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RE: RFC 5321 VRFY and quoting syntax
> -----Original Message-----
> From: owner-ietf-smtp@xxxxxxxxxxxx [mailto:owner-ietf-smtp@xxxxxxxxxxxx] On Behalf Of A. Rothman
> Sent: Monday, May 09, 2011 8:03 AM
> To: IETF SMTP
> Subject: RFC 5321 VRFY and quoting syntax
> 1. The syntax definition for commands such as VRFY and EXPN (e.g.
> section 188.8.131.52) is
> vrfy = "VRFY" SP String CRLF
> with the syntax of "String" defined in section 4.1.2 as:
> String = Atom / Quoted-string
> however, section 3.5.1 states:
> The character string arguments of the VRFY and EXPN commands cannot
> be further restricted due to the variety of implementations of the
> user name and mailbox list concepts.
> What is not entirely clear to me is which is true - is any string of
> characters valid (syntax-wise), or must it be a Quoted-string (in double
> quotes) if any non-atext characters appear in it. This is especially
> confusing having seen various examples online (and some discussions on
> this mailing list as well) where pointed brackets are included in the
> VRFY argument (using a Path syntax similar to the one defined for the
> MAIL FROM and RCPT TO commands), but with no quoting.
I'm missing how your first sentence here is a conflict. It has to be a quoted-string if there are any non-atext characters, otherwise the quoting is not needed.
Also, a good point on the angle brackets. The syntax seems to suggest they're not valid (or, indeed, need quoting themselves). I'm sure it's commonly accepted this way since the most commonly used SMTP commands (MAIL and RCPT) require them but most implementations also usually tolerate their absence.
> 2. Section 4.1.2 defines the backslash-escaped character mechanism in
> quoted-pairSMTP, which is used only in a Quoted-string (within
> double-quotes), and does not mention such escaping outside of a
> Quoted-string. The following text section states:
> Note that the backslash, "\", is a quote character, which is used to
> indicate that the next character is to be used literally (instead of
> its normal interpretation). For example, "Joe\,Smith" indicates a
> single nine-character user name string with the comma being the
> fourth character of that string.
> So, it is unclear whether this paragraph applies only to the
> Quoted-strings defined above, or to any characters in any argument to
> any command, or only to mailboxes (discussed in the preceding paragraph)
> or some other definition of when it does and does not apply.
It appears to apply only within quoted strings. Its main function then would be to escape quotation marks within quoted strings, because everything else is not a character that separates tokens.
> 3. Still regarding VRFY (and maybe also EXPN?) section 3.5.1 states:
> If a normal (i.e., 250) response is returned,
> the response MAY include the full name of the user and MUST include
> the mailbox of the user. It MUST be in either of the following
> User Name<local-part@domain>
> Whereas section 3.5.2 claims:
> When normal (2yz or 551) responses are returned from a VRFY or EXPN
> request, the reply MUST include the<Mailbox> name using a
> "<local-part@domain>" construction
> Notably, the second example in the former section does not comply with
> the latter section (as it contains no pointed brackets). Which is the
> correct form?
I would say the angle-bracket form is what would be expected, but you're right, this looks like an ambiguity. I would recommend opening an errata item for it if that hasn't already been done.