Many organisations are very concerned about their identity, hiring expensive consultants to redesign their logo, with the result being reviewed at the most senior level. Their identity on the Internet tends to receive much less attention, being delegated, without much thought to some ‘techie’ people, either inside or outside the organisation, without much guidance as to what the online identity should be.
At the highest level identities, or Names on the Internet are divided into a number of Domains in a structure a bit like a tree, although conventionally pictures with the root at the top! From the root come a number of major branches, the .com, .edu, .org, (etc) naming areas, originally for Commercial, Educational (American), other Organistations, and .uk, .de, .fr for United Kingdom, German (Deutschland), France and so on. Each of these branches is controlled by some naming authority, and some of those authorities sell, through brokers, names in that space on the open market. Others names are not for sale, for example you can not buy a name which ends .nhs.uk, which is reserved for the British National Health Service.
Most individuals, and some small organisations will not even start down this road and will exist purely as an identity within one of the Internet giants, for example Gmail, Facebook, Twitter etc – in which case their identity is whatever works within the rules of that system.
This article is for people and organisations who have, or are planning to have their own identity on the Internet. In examples I will assume you are using example.com as your name.
The Domain Name System (DNS)
The mail system depends on the DNS, so if the DNS is set up incorrectly then there will be mail delivery problems.
(These are essential to mail delivery, and I will update this article to cover them)
It is common in modern mail systems for the email for an organisation to be delivered by some specialist third party, rather than the organisation itself. The SPF (Sender Policy Framework) record is a way of declaring to the world who you trust to be sending mail on your behalf.
Problems with your SPF record will cause problems delivering your email, and have their own article on SPF Problems.