Who do I trust, you or the guy who signs my check?

Consultant pilot fish is trying to get some email system adjustments made with this hosting provider -- but things have bogged down at the level of the tech support guy's understanding of how email actually works.

Fish: Look, mail travels through the Internet using SMTP, which stands for Simple Mail Transfer Protocol.

Tech support: "No it doesn't. It uses MX protocol. 'SMTP' is just an alias for 'mail server.' And every mail server on the planet must have a login on every other mail server on the planet. Otherwise mail won't flow."

Fish: Huh? What idiot told you this? MX isn't a protocol, it's just a record in DNS. Look it up on the Internet if you don't believe me. And what you're claiming would result in an impossibly unwieldy authentication system.

Tech support: "My boss says so, therefore it must be true. And he tells me that the Internet lies."

Renew Sharky's faith in the Internet. Send me your true tale of IT life at sharky@computerworld.com. You'll snag a snazzy Shark shirt if I use it. Add your comments below, and read some great old tales in the Sharkives.

The Best of Shark Tank includes more than 70 tales of IT woe submitted by you, our readers, since 1999. Which all goes to prove, conclusively, that hapless users and idiotic bosses are indeed worldwide phenomena. Free registration is all that's needed to download The Best of Shark Tank (PDF).

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