[BiturboS4] mailing lists and reply-to: (no S4 content)

Ian McCloghrie ian at codrus.com
Thu Aug 22 21:17:42 EDT 2002

On Aug 22, 2002 Philip Pace wrote:
> PERFECT EXAMPLE. See, Ian was kind enough to send me this bit on why
> I should reconsider my request. Did anyone else see it? NO - he only
> hit reply.
> This seems valid enough, Ian. But, I'm afraid it's a little
> outdated; e-mail has come a long way in three years. When you use an
> article to back up an idea, choose one that doesn't cite an
> essentially obsolete e-mail program: elm.

If an 'essentially obsolete' email client supports the features
necessary to use a mailing list configured properly, then it seems
likely that any "more advanced" program will support them too.

I have no idea what you mean when you say that "email has come a long
way in three years."  What changes do you see?  There's more spam out
there, sure, but other than that, the last major change I saw in email
was when MIME was invented, back in 92 or so.

Reply-to: is a field that was invented for a specific purpose -- it
allows the originator of the message to specify what address a
receipient should use if they wish to reply to him only.  A mailing
list that munges this field to point to the address of the list is
removing this ability from the originator.

In fact, by munging the Reply-to: field, the mailing list software has
removed the ability of standard mail readers to automatically reply to
the originator only.  'reply' and 'reply all' now both go to the list
only.  If one wishes to reply to just the originator, one must
manually extract his or her address from the From: line, and type (or
cut/paste) it into the reply.  Even after doing this, the replier has
an address which may not be the one at which the sender wishes to
receive email.

> I agree with the core point - that people should choose who they
> send responses to, but in a forum such as this, I do believe that
> the status quo is to copy everyone on a given response, since it's
> essentially a giant slow chat board.  If you want to talk to someone
> privately, then you should choose that, instead of it being the
> default. The way e-mail is set up is that SOMEONE has to be the
> primary sender, and I'm just asking that it be biturbo. You can't
> force people to chose every recipient every time (per your article's
> opinion) - that's not the nature of the beast.

How hard is it to remember 'reply' vs 'reply all'?  If someone can't
manage to figure that out when sending email, how did he manage to
turn the computer on in the first place?  And if his client doesn't
support this most basic of features, perhaps he should investigate
using software which isn't crippled and broken?

Rather than characerize a mailing list as a "giant slow chat board",
I'd describe a "web forum" as a non-distributed mailing list or
newsgroup that forces you to use a proprietary UI and editor, rather
than allowing you choose your own.  Email mailing lists came first, by
a long shot.

Flexible user interface is a feature, not a bug.  It allows people to
use the tools with which they are most comfortable and productive.  I
see Reply-To: munging as an example of a trend towards enforcing a
single, standard user interface, based upon one limited view of the
role of a particular information service.  I view this as a serious

This is all I have to say on this subject on this mailing list.  It is
not relevant to the Audi S4, and does not fit under this list's charter.

I would also like to observe that forwarding a piece of private email
to a mailing list or newsgroup without the author's permission (as you
did with my email) is generally considered to be extremely rude and a
violation of "netiquette".  Please consider this the next time someone
sends you private email that you want to comment on in a public forum.


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