What To Post To The List

Before you send your first technical post to mailhelp there are a couple of things you need to do. First of all make sure that your mail client is not sending html or rich text. This irritates many people (including the author). Once you've done this please introduce yourself. Keep it brief (a paragraph or two is usually more than adequate) but tell us about yourself so we will then have some idea of who we're dealing with. Information about your technical experience is always helpful as it allows anyone providing aid to gauge your experience level and couch the terminology in the subsequent advice accordingly.

It's very important that you realize that list members who will try to help you cannot see your machine, machines, or your network environment so when you post about a problem send as much information as you can. If its an error message that's got you puzzled, send the actual error message, not just a paraphrased explanation. Send snippets from your log files (e.g. /var/log/maillog or /var/log/messages on Red Hat Linux systems). If you're using sendmail send a copy of the macro configuration file (.mc file extension) that you used to generate the .cf file. DO NOT EVER send your entire sendmail.cf file to the list. No one, including those of us from MoonGroup, will take the time to read it and it will serve as nothing more than a waste of bandwidth and an irritant to the list membership. If you use a different MTA then send the primary configuration file for it (example: with postfix send /etc/postfix/main.cf or the entire output of the postconf command). If you're having a network related problem then send your actual IP addresses as well as a verbal description of how your network is architected and what it's supposed to do. Don't presume that your network is somehow going to become vulnerable to crackers if you send the real info. In all likelihood the crackers already know everything they need to about your network anyway! A simple scan with nmap will tell them everything they want to know so *not* providing complete information isn't going to help you solve your problem and its not going to secure your network either! Security by obscurity is *not* the way to go and no one can possibly help you if you only provide `artifical' information.

One last thing you should try and remember. Always trim quoted portions of prior messages which are no longer germaine to the discussion. Time and time again we see messages coming to the list with 3 lines of current text and 150 lines of quoted material which is no longer a part of the discussion. Try to remember this because its wasteful and it makes it harder for people to keep track of what's going on!