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Old 07-08-2010, 01:44 PM
Patrick O'Callaghan
 
Default Reply-To munging summary (was: Bug in mailing lists; unfriendly to non-subscribers)

On Thu, 2010-07-08 at 13:29 +0300, Felipe Contreras wrote:
> Also, people that are used to Reply-To munging can get used to
> clicking "reply to all"; it's a matter of habit, but no functionality
> is lost.

Why does no-one ever mention "Reply To List" as the proper way to, duh,
reply to the list?

poc

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Old 07-08-2010, 02:45 PM
Patrick O'Callaghan
 
Default Reply-To munging summary (was: Bug in mailing lists; unfriendly to non-subscribers)

On Thu, 2010-07-08 at 10:13 -0400, Tom Horsley wrote:
> On Thu, 08 Jul 2010 09:14:23 -0430
> Patrick O'Callaghan wrote:
>
> > Why does no-one ever mention "Reply To List" as the proper way to, duh,
> > reply to the list?
>
> Probably because all the mail clients I've seen have it hidden
> somewhere down inside some obscure pull-down and users don't
> even know such a thing exists or their mail client supports
> it (I certainly didn't know claws had a "reply to list" till
> the last time this thread came up here, someone mentioned
> it, and I actually went looking for it).

I agree with your assessment of why many people don't use it. It's also
the case that some webmail systems (e.g. Gmail) don't even support it --
in fact they seem to have few features for mailing list support. However
I was mainly wondering why no-one on this particular thread (which is
after all about mailing lists) has mentioned it either. Looks like even
knowledgeable users don't know about it, despite the List-* headers
being a standard.

poc

PS This reply sent using Reply-To-List in Evolution (Ctrl-L), as are all
my replies whenever possible.

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Old 07-08-2010, 04:13 PM
Patrick O'Callaghan
 
Default Reply-To munging summary (was: Bug in mailing lists; unfriendly to non-subscribers)

On Thu, 2010-07-08 at 10:45 -0500, Bruno Wolff III wrote:
> On Thu, Jul 08, 2010 at 09:14:23 -0430,
> Patrick O'Callaghan <pocallaghan@gmail.com> wrote:
> > On Thu, 2010-07-08 at 13:29 +0300, Felipe Contreras wrote:
> > > Also, people that are used to Reply-To munging can get used to
> > > clicking "reply to all"; it's a matter of habit, but no functionality
> > > is lost.
> >
> > Why does no-one ever mention "Reply To List" as the proper way to, duh,
> > reply to the list?
>
> It isn't always the case that you want to reply to the list. When you want
> that, then sure that is something you can do.

Only if the people you reply to include the List-* headers. For example,
you didn't, so I can't use Reply-To-list for this reply (without
manually munging the headers of course). This forces me to use
Reply-To_All or to start cutting-and-pasting addesses. I guess that's
another reason it isn't so popular.

> But you don't always know if people are subscribed or not and there may be
> cases where people like getting a second message directly to them.
>
> The proper way to indicate that you don't want separate direct copies in
> addition to the list copy is to set an appropriate mail-followup-to header.
> Then things work automatically and people don't need to guess your intentions,
> remember them or notice them buried in the signature part of an email message.

That surely is up to the receiver, not the sender. Furthermore, as it
will vary from list to list it seems impractical to have to set it
individually for each post if the MUA doesn't support it automatically
(Evolution doesn't).

poc

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Old 07-09-2010, 05:48 AM
Tim
 
Default Reply-To munging summary (was: Bug in mailing lists; unfriendly to non-subscribers)

On Thu, 2010-07-08 at 09:14 -0430, Patrick O'Callaghan wrote:
> Why does no-one ever mention "Reply To List" as the proper way to,
> duh, reply to the list?

Probably because it's hardly ever seen as an option to the user (it's
hidden, or simply not offered). Mail clients are often quite awful, and
it tended to be the older usenet clients that gave you all the right
features in a sensible manner.

e.g. Back when I used ForteInc Agent, many years ago, when you are
reading from a news group, the interface gave you:

A new post button, to write a new message to that group, that wasn't an
erroneous reply to a prior post. A feature sadly lacking from mail
clients when they're working with list mail, that could quite easily be
added to the toolbar (or an always-there one activated) when a message
with list details in their headers was selected.

A reply button, to reply to the poster directly (or their reply-to, if
the poster had set one).

A follow-up button, to reply back to the group. Which replies to the
group, and doesn't send unnecessary personal posts at the same time.

And, not to mention, that it did quoting properly (wrapped well, without
mangling all the > prefix indicators).

The two replying options did let you easily do what you intended, and
didn't rope in additional functions at the same time (i.e. sending out
replies in multiple directions, simultaneously). It's only by testing
that I can see what reply to all will do on any client, and usually it
doesn't do what I'd logically expect.

i.e. If I were to hit reply to all on your post, now, it'd make sense
that it replied to the list, and to the poster. That's the most obvious
definition of "all" in this case (all addresses). But it only prepares
a reply to the list.

Other clients that I've tried this with behave differently. And therein
lay a big problem - a particularly named feature doing different things,
when it should really always do the same thing. And for the sake of
this argument, I don't care what it's supposed to do, only what's the
most logical conclusion to make about what you think it's supposed to
do, and what it actually does, are the main concernts.

In my opinion, many lists set the reply-to address because those lists
are intended to keep replies on the list, and the list managers know
that most people wouldn't do that if it wasn't preset for them. People
will just hit reply, and expect it to do the right thing.

If it weren't for the fact that we'd lose much, probably most, of the
list traffic to private replies, I'd object less about not presetting
the reply-to with the list address.

I've seen what happens with lists where replies go privately. I've said
it already (they have the same questions over and over, and no replies),
and you can find it for yourself whenever you go googling to try and
solve a problem. You find a page after page where someone has asked
your question, and there's no public answer, at all. It's not a
supposition, it's real.

Yes, it would be nice that replies to your postings went through the
list still addressed /to/ you, so that your client can let you know that
you've had a reply (as we used to get with usenet, and various BBS mail
systems). However, that only works with the first reply. Other
replies, that were actually a reply to a second party in the thread, if
it ever managed to get that far, may also be pertinent to you, but will
not be addressed to you, and won't be flagged by your mail client, nor
sent to you if you're not subscribed.

Usenet clients, and some mail clients, covered that event quite neatly
with the watch thread function. You enabled it on a thread that took
your interest, and all child threads from that point on were watched.
Forks of the thread from before you started watching it were not. But
all of them rely on one thing - you have to be subscribed.

Whether you (generically, not Patrick in particular) like it or not,
there are *good* reasons to set list mail's reply-to headers to the
list. Particularly on lists where you want mail to stay in the public
arena, with lists that will be used by people who know nothing about
email intricacies, with lists where people with a problem need as much
help as they can get. It is the simplest and most effective way to make
a mailing list work.

It's no good arguing that people would soon learn to reply differently,
because they would not. The hit and run questioners would not, they're
not around long enough to learn. Even the regulars are quite unlikely
to learn, given the example of the number of people who don't/won't
learn to create a new message rather than reply to an unrelated one.

--
[tim@localhost ~]$ uname -r
2.6.27.25-78.2.56.fc9.i686

Don't send private replies to my address, the mailbox is ignored. I
read messages from the public lists.



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Old 07-09-2010, 01:54 PM
Patrick O'Callaghan
 
Default Reply-To munging summary (was: Bug in mailing lists; unfriendly to non-subscribers)

On Fri, 2010-07-09 at 15:18 +0930, Tim wrote:
> A new post button, to write a new message to that group, that wasn't
> an erroneous reply to a prior post. A feature sadly lacking from mail
> clients when they're working with list mail, that could quite easily
> be added to the toolbar (or an always-there one activated) when a
> message with list details in their headers was selected.

Ironically, a few days ago I reported a minor bug in the Post Message to
List function of Evolution. The bug seems to have gone unnoticed because
no-one ever uses that feature. Of course, not being on the tool bar and
not having a keyboard shortcut probably contribute to that, especially
as the various Reply and New Message variants do have such things.

Going a little OT now:

I also agree with the rest of your post (and see no reason to quote it
in its entirety :-), but I wonder if we're all just rearranging the
deckchairs on the Titanic when it comes to mailing lists. I have the
impression that the whole ml thing is actually a poor man's Usenet,
invented because everyone has mail. Years ago I tried to promote a
(local) News structure in my University as a medium of discussion, and
there was just no way I could get people to use it. The old saying "to a
guy with a hammer, every problem is a nail" applies here. Alternative
mechanisms such as bboards etc. also just didn't cut the mustard because
people are *very* reluctant to learn a new tool unless the benefit to
them (not to the institution) is immediately clear.

So now we're having to consider Facebook, Twitter, you-name-it. Yech.

poc

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Old 07-10-2010, 05:34 AM
Tim
 
Default Reply-To munging summary (was: Bug in mailing lists; unfriendly to non-subscribers)

On Fri, 2010-07-09 at 09:24 -0430, Patrick O'Callaghan wrote:
> I wonder if we're all just rearranging the deckchairs on the Titanic
> when it comes to mailing lists. I have the impression that the whole
> ml thing is actually a poor man's Usenet, invented because everyone
> has mail.

I've had the same thought before, many a time. I used to use usenet a
lot. It was a handy thing, you only downloaded what you want, you
didn't need to keep the downloaded messages, the clients had much better
management features (hide 3 day old mail, purge 2 week old cached
messages, thread watch, idiot ignore, proper threading, etc., etc.), and
usenet had the benefit of one subscription for all groups, and no need
to expose an email address to the world (it was usually easy enough to
fill in a dead address to subscribe). Though did have the problem that
anybody could subscribe, and almost nobody could remove a pest; and
cartloads of spam spread across all groups because anybody could post,
and crosspost without limit.

There were two main reasons I eventually stopped using Usenet: Pan
wasn't as good as Agent, and got even worse as they removed important
features from being controllable from the interface, forcing you to hand
edit configuration files, if the feature still existed. And the topics
I became interested in weren't on usenet.

But, the whole methodology of how usenet works, and how you use it, is
much better than every mailing list that I've ever used.

> people are *very* reluctant to learn a new tool unless the benefit to
> them (not to the institution) is immediately clear.

About the only alternative accepted was the worst of the bunch; web
forums. Sure, they've convenient for Googling for an answer, or using
just one forum from any computer that you had to hand. But they suck
big time when it come to following lots of different topics, as you have
to visit each one individually, logging in separately. Have to wade
through a page six miles long, bloated with a hodgepode of misused HTML
tables, JavaScript, animated avatars, etc. Not to mention the extreme
security risk of visiting unknown websites full of unknown gumph, while
you try to fix a problem with your computer. I'm sure that, by now,
most of us have come across a page with a flashing advert at the top
stating "your computer is infected, click this link to scan your PC,"
where the statement is an outright lie, and it's a fair bet that letting
it pretend to scan you will create problems.

> So now we're having to consider Facebook, Twitter, you-name-it. Yech.

If there was ever a more aptly named internet thing as twitter, I
haven't come across it yet. Utterly useless.

I had a friend ask me to set up MySpace and Facebook pages for him, and
what an incredibly painful process that was. Slow as hell websites, a
bewildering array of crap to wade through and turn off, much of which
you couldn't turn off, and it hijacks everything you type in to keep
people within their messy system.

e.g. I tried including a link to his real website, and it kept on
breaking it. Either not letting me post a link, inserting things into
the address to break it, or passing people through a click through that
warns you that following the link may be dangerous, but without there
ever being any analysis of the link. i.e. It virtually defames you.

--
[tim@localhost ~]$ uname -r
2.6.27.25-78.2.56.fc9.i686

Don't send private replies to my address, the mailbox is ignored. I
read messages from the public lists.



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Old 07-10-2010, 12:17 PM
Tim
 
Default Reply-To munging summary (was: Bug in mailing lists; unfriendly to non-subscribers)

Tim:
>> In my opinion, many lists set the reply-to address because those lists
>> are intended to keep replies on the list, and the list managers know
>> that most people wouldn't do that if it wasn't preset for them. People
>> will just hit reply, and expect it to do the right thing.

Felipe Contreras:
> I wonder, how do you think people are able to maintain private
> conversations between multiple parties if they "will just hit reply"?

Why do you think people do that? I put it to you that most people don't
do any such thing. In a discussion about using mailing lists, your
comment is so far off on a tangent that it's not funny.

Outside of a mailing list, the usual way someone sends mail to a group
is to pile all the addresses into the TO field. A few more clueful will
make use of the CC field, but usually the TO field. Replies will
usually go to all them, by default. But that isn't a mailing list, in
the usual meaning of the term, it doesn't have some software in the
middle distributing mail around, it goes to one person, who manually
handles it. And it gets a right mess when several people reply, and
repeated messages get fired about all over the place, with mangled
quotes of quotes, HTML crap everywhere, broken forwarded partial
contents of messages (see the attached file, that wasn't attached or
included in any way...).

The slightly clueful wanting to disseminate group mail without using a
list server could manually start off by having an address just for it,
posting TO it, & CCing all the other recipients. The recipients would
receive a message addressed to the list, with them on the CC list. The
recipients can reply to just the list TO address, and the owner could
deal with it (simply read it, pass it, or part of it, on to the list,
etc), or the recipients could reply to all the addresses, or to just
some of them. The messiness of that all soon leads to seeing the
advantage of using a list server that works like the Fedora one (being
quite automating, distributing all the public mail, not requiring
moderation).

I am a former BBS SysOp, I'm more than well aware of a multitude of ways
mail goes around, gets used and abused. And by far the easiest way to
run a list between people who know sweet Fanny Adams all about mail
distribution is to a list server that sets the reply-to address to the
list, so all the replies go back to the list.

Those who want to make a private reply are well able to, by writing to
the individual. That's what address books are for, and most modern
clients will let you click on an address somewhere in a post and write
or reply to it, directly.

If someone's inclined to post to numerous people privately, but not all,
they can pile in all the addresses that they want to, and write to them
directly. They'd have to manage that manually, anyway, whether the list
changed the reply-to or not, because they'd be sidestepping the list.

--
[tim@localhost ~]$ uname -r
2.6.27.25-78.2.56.fc9.i686

Don't send private replies to my address, the mailbox is ignored. I
read messages from the public lists.



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Old 07-10-2010, 10:23 PM
Cameron Simpson
 
Default Reply-To munging summary (was: Bug in mailing lists; unfriendly to non-subscribers)

On 11Jul2010 01:06, Felipe Contreras <felipe.contreras@gmail.com> wrote:
| On Sat, Jul 10, 2010 at 11:27 PM, Tom H <tomh0665@gmail.com> wrote:
| > On Sat, Jul 10, 2010 at 5:20 AM, Felipe Contreras
| > <felipe.contreras@gmail.com> wrote:
| >> On Fri, Jul 9, 2010 at 8:48 AM, Tim <ignored_mailbox@yahoo.com.au> wrote:
| >>> In my opinion, many lists set the reply-to address because those lists
| >>> are intended to keep replies on the list, and the list managers know
| >>> that most people wouldn't do that if it wasn't preset for them. *People
| >>> will just hit reply, and expect it to do the right thing.
| >>
| >> I wonder, how do you think people are able to maintain private
| >> conversations between multiple parties if they "will just hit reply"?
| >
| > I regularly have conversations with multiple friends or colleagues
| > where at some point someone hits "reply" rather than "reply to all"
| > and all but two are cut off.
|
| Exactly, so common users need to know "reply to all" in order to have
| conversations with more than one person. It is *common* knowledge.
|
| So members of the mailing list are aware of such "reply to all" common
| knowledge.

It may be common knowledge. It is not reflexive behaviour. People reach for
plain reply by habit. Happens all the time, very common.

Personally I think mail readers should have buttons labelled "Reply" (meaning
reply-to-all) and "Reply only to author" (meaning what the button labelled
"reply" usually mean now).

It is _usually_ better to reply-to-all in ad hoc groups like the above
example, and also better to reply-to-all in one-to-one conversation
(where the buttons mean the same thing).

So I, for one, would advocate going back in time and changing the
"default" reply button's meaning. Then the situation that _drives_ the
common list configuration of the reply-to would not be as prevalent.

Cheers,
--
Cameron Simpson <cs@zip.com.au> DoD#743
http://www.cskk.ezoshosting.com/cs/

Generally, these things are dreadful, but I saw a clip the other night on tv
of someone who had built a scorpion costume for their spaniel, complete with
legs and a stinger. It was quite impressive. Made me want to run out and
buy a dog and a some foam rubber. - David Farley
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Old 07-11-2010, 02:10 AM
Cameron Simpson
 
Default Reply-To munging summary (was: Bug in mailing lists; unfriendly to non-subscribers)

On 09Jul2010 12:03, Kwan Lowe <kwan@digitalhermit.com> wrote:
| On Fri, Jul 9, 2010 at 9:54 AM, Patrick O'Callaghan
| <pocallaghan@gmail.com> wrote:
| [snip]
| > I also agree with the rest of your post (and see no reason to quote it
| > in its entirety :-), but I wonder if we're all just rearranging the
| > deckchairs on the Titanic when it comes to mailing lists. I have the
| > impression that the whole ml thing is actually a poor man's Usenet,
| > invented because everyone has mail. Years ago I tried to promote a
| > (local) News structure in my University as a medium of discussion, and
| > there was just no way I could get people to use it. The old saying "to a
| > guy with a hammer, every problem is a nail" applies here. Alternative
| > mechanisms such as bboards etc. also just didn't cut the mustard because
| > people are *very* reluctant to learn a new tool unless the benefit to
| > them (not to the institution) is immediately clear.

This, in principle, is where multi-interface systems can be handy.
Google Groups, for example and GMANE, which gateway between usenet and
mailing lists _and_ provide a forum-like web view of the messages
present the same content in different modes for various users. With a
greater or lesser success.

Supposing Mailman had a "forum" view of its archives where the reply
button was a mailto: link embedding the right subject and to: line.
People magicly get their preferred mail reader for composition and it
might "just work" fairly well. Can the in-reply-to header be embedded in
a mailto: link?

| Indeed...
| I think there are benefits to both, but I admit that I stopped using
| Usenet some years ago. Targeted lists such as this one work for me
| because the volume of mail is manageable. At the same time, I do
| notice that mailing lists tend to make silos of information. This is a
| benefit for certain specific information (e.g., purely CentOS related
| discussion) but for more general information there is a lot of
| duplication.
|
| I've always for some method of aggregating multiple mailman lists into
| a custom list. Not certain how it would work, but perhaps a keyword
| header would do the trick. I use RSS for some sites, but it would not
| work for the volume of mail in a typical list.

My current approach is to file several lists into a single mail folder ("sh",
"unix", "mutt" etc).

| Right now I am
| subscribing to multiple lists and using keywords in the Google mail
| client to create topics for my interests (e.g., Xen/KVM, image
| editing, etc..). But that means I need to keep thousands of messages
| from the dozen or so lists to which I am subscribed.

Should you care? Unless your mail volume is biting into your ISP's
bandwidth limits having thousands of messages is a win. Personally, if I
subscribe to new a mailman list my first act is often to suck down the
entire archive and unpack it into my mail folders so I can consult it
easier and see history. Mairix works fairly well for my searching needs.

Cheers,
--
Cameron Simpson <cs@zip.com.au> DoD#743
http://www.cskk.ezoshosting.com/cs/

Netscape Messenger has displayed the message. There is no guarantee that the
content has been read or understood.
- reality check by Return-Receipt handler in NS Messenger 4.5
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Old 07-11-2010, 05:04 AM
Tim
 
Default Reply-To munging summary (was: Bug in mailing lists; unfriendly to non-subscribers)

On Sun, 2010-07-11 at 12:10 +1000, Cameron Simpson wrote:
> Can the in-reply-to header be embedded in a mailto: link?

You can only really rely on the "to" address making through a mailto
link. And even then, it's only going to work when someone has a
configured mail client on the system.

It isn't going to work with someone using a friend's computer, a
computer in a library, many computers at work (they'll probably use an
inappropriate work address), and many people at home who never use a
real mail client. Unfortunately, to a great number of the public, their
own knowledge of email is using something like Hotmail.

--
[tim@localhost ~]$ uname -r
2.6.27.25-78.2.56.fc9.i686

Don't send private replies to my address, the mailbox is ignored. I
read messages from the public lists.



--
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