This is the kind of thing that keeps system administrators in the BOFHery ...

ISP: Hello, local ISP, system administrator speaking, how can I help you?

Caller: I have a technical question for you ...

ISP: Sure, go ahead.

Caller: Are you pinging?

ISP: Pinging what?

Caller: Mail messages.

ISP: Huh?

Caller: Are you pinging mail messages? Someone said that when mail comes in, you can "ping" the return address, and if the result is negative, then you can bounce or discard the message.

ISP: Oh, you're asking if we are doing domain verification!?

Caller: I don't know. Is that the same as pinging?

ISP: No, it's n--

Caller: Then that's not what I'm asking. I want to know if you're pinging.

ISP: Are you asking if we send ICMP packets?

Caller: What are those?

ISP: Internet Control Message Protocol. Ping, traceroute, that kinda stuff.

Caller: What does that have to do with spammers?

ISP: Who said anything about spammers?

Caller: Look, I just want to know if you are pinging spammers.

ISP: No, but we sure wish we could.

Caller: Well, someone on Mac-L says you can.

ISP: Can do *what*? And what's Mac-L?

Caller: It's a listserv, and this guy on the listserv said that you could ping the return addresses of incoming messages to see if they are spammers.

ISP: It's not a listserv, only LISTSERV(tm) is a listserv.

Caller: What do you mean? I know that it's a listserv -- I'm subscribed to it.

ISP: No, you mean that it's a mailing list that is running on a *list server*. "LISTSERV" is a trademarked name that refers to a particular program that hosts mailing lists. You subscribe to mailing lists, not to list servers -- and certainly not to listservs.

Caller: Whatever. I don't care. I just want to know if you are pinging spammers! Like I was saying, this guy on the listserv--

ISP: "mailing list"

Caller: Whatever! This guy said that you could ping spammers. Now, are you doing that, or not?

ISP: No, but we *are* doing domain verifications on incoming mail messages, which, I think, is what the guy was *really* trying to say.

Caller: Is that the same as pinging?

ISP: Yes, I guess you could say that.


And we wonder why they drink.

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