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Re: mail-followup-to / mail-copies-to
On Thu, 26 May 2005, Bruce Lilly wrote:
On Thu May 26 2005 16:26, Paul Jakma wrote:
However, if I would suggest this "list-reply" functionality should be
taken as "reply in a list context"
One problem is defining precisely what that means, in a way which is
likely to reach consensus.
I think by looking at what MUAs do, one could define that context.
The fact that already several MUAs (popular ones at that,
thunderbird, apple mail, and mutt) /do/ do see fit to provide a "list
context", in addition to the long standing "reply" and "reply to all"
contexts, suggests there may be value in distinguishing this context
That strikes me as equivalent to saying "screw you, I'm going to
completely ignore your stated request as well as the relevant
standards and do something different for spite".
Ha! To an extent, I'd agree - and it's definitely caused me problems.
However, just complaining about it though isn't productive, because
the Mutt developers (and its users) do seem to feel it solves a
And it /does/ for mutt. If I were to use Mutt and configure MFT for
all the various lists, I'd generally be happy - except when non-Mutt
users replied to me.
So I'd like to try help fix that, somehow, even if it's no more than
clarifying best practice in some way. However, note that I /agree/
"list context reply" should /not/ consider Reply-To, for if it did,
that would imply it should also consider "From", which obviously isnt
I would disagree that the list-reply functionality of some MUAs
means "reply /only/ to list". One of more popular MUA which
implements list-reply supports this view (as it will take MFT into
The problem with that is that it leads to nasty surprises; an invisible
(non-standard, not displayed) header field changes the way a function
works, with no warning to the user.
I don't quite agree with MFT either. Please don't take the fact that
I have this header in my mails as a sign I agree with it - it's there
for least-worst reasons.
Beware of some things that you may read; there are bogus claims
that "Reply-To prevents direct responses to an author" -- that is
simply untrue. A moment's thought should convince you that given a
nothing prevents you from sending a response to any of those
mailboxes, or indeed to random-person@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Now it may
be the case that *some* MUAs lack a single-key/click/whatever
"reply-to-author(s)" function, but that is an implementation issue
with those MUAs -- there certainly are several MUAs that do have
such a function -- and in no way results from some putative evil
characteristic of the Reply-To field.
Yes, I agree. Pine is quite good in this respect as it asks you what
to do, it makes you think. Other MUAs unfortunately aren't as
However, see above, I do not (at the moment) think it would be right
to consider From/Reply-To in a "list reply" context. The entire
reason "list reply" exists is because of a perceived desire that most
people prefer not to get direct copies of list mail, my limited and
statistically meaningless research seems to support this. :)
Hence, Reply-To can /not/ be used. For reasons you gave previously
(what exactly does it indicate? A preference to direct public or
personal mail? Whatever the rights or wrongs of that grey area, it
exists - otherwise MUAs would not be offering a "list context" reply
No need. Pine already provides the option for a user to reply to
the author(s) (From field) or where the author(s) suggested
(Reply-To field) or to "group" and/or to any mailbox in the users
address book or which the user can type.
Yes, Pine is fine.
I suspect though I would fail if I instead set out to persuade
everyone to switch to Pine. Activism here (and even drafting a
proposal, if needs be) is, I hope, likely to be more productive (in
the long term, I realise).
So is there any answer? Without wishing to have you prejudice your
stance on the question(s), would you be able to suggest which
avenues would the most fruitful to investigate?
I'd first have to see a definition of that "list context" that is
somehow distinctive from any other "context" and which makes some
sort of sense given the fact that -- no matter what -- a respondent
is going to have to decide where he wants to send responses.
Or rather than "where", in what /context/ they wish to respond.
Choosing the /context/ is easy for an user.
Those contexts are, in every MUA I know of, 'personal', 'all' and, in
several of the more popular MUAs, 'list':
Typically (it seems to me):
To: (Reply-To) ? Reply-To : From
Better MUAs prompt the user:
prompt: "Use Reply-To or From?"
To: ((Reply-To) ? Reply-To : From)
Cc: To, Cc
(some MUAs may prompt)
Typically (List-Post from header, or statically configured):
To: List-Post, (MFT ? MFT : '')
To: (MFT ? MFT : List-Post)
(apologies for the ad-hoc selection description language, it's
intended to be vaguely according to C, as if above were headers, and
anything left of initial : were variables named according to fields
of replied-to-email along with the C ? operator. Duplicate and empty
address/header removal after selection is implicit. I'll try figure
out how to specify above (and below) in the correct way).
My concern is solely with the 'list' case. I would propose it be (and
apologies again for not yet being familiar with the /correct/
language for expressing these things):
Cc: (Foo-Copies-To ? Foo-Copies-To : '')
The 'Foo-Copies-To' header would be additive, any one MAY add their
address to it, and transitive, if it were present in a mail being
replied to MUAs SHOULD retain it and its contents.
(I'd look at language of In-Reply-To and References to ensure it
would be defined in a consistent and similar manner - apologies, but
i'm not yet familiar with the correct language for this.).
Up to you. Unless you have a very clear idea of the problem and
the breadth of possible solutions, and have carefully considered
the implications, a draft may be premature.
See the above. Would work I think. Or at least, would /allow/ MUAs to
work in a way that would keep me happy, wrt "list context replies".
Sounds like the root of the problem is MUAs that implement the
"spiteful" stance noted earlier.
Yes, but they implement it because of a perceived problem. As much I
would prefer that everyone would hit "reply to all" on list mails, I
realise it's not going to happen - and MUAs now ever more are
providing "list context" to make it easy for users to only mail the
list and anyone who has indicated a preference for copies on list
context mail - the problem is there no way to indicate that
Maybe a draft along the lines of "MUAs that do not respect standard
field semantics considered harmful" might raise awareness.
It might, but I'd imagine it would be ignored if there is no solution
to "list context".
Whether or not that root problem will be fixed is another matter...
Paul Jakma paul@xxxxxxxx paul@xxxxxxxxx Key ID: 64A2FF6A
If you think last Tuesday was a drag, wait till you see what happens tomorrow!