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Old 08-09-2010, 02:25 PM
Mackenzie Morgan
 
Default HTML by default in KMail

On Monday, August 09, 2010 04:42:15 am Jussi Schultink wrote:
> I agree 100% with Aurélien here, and his arguments are what I would
> have said, if I was a little more eloquent

Ditto. Great summary Aurélien.

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Old 08-09-2010, 02:29 PM
Ralph Janke
 
Default HTML by default in KMail

We did not advocate stripping features. We just have the enabling of
html

to be a deliberated step by the user. Furthermore, there is a
configuration option that the user if they so wish can enable it by
default.



It is not different than not having sshd automatically running on
desktops, but requiring the user to explicitly install it.



Ralph (txwikinger)



On 08/07/2010 02:24 AM, Tres Finocchiaro wrote:
From a user's perspective, I find it very (very) naive to
rule out all html formatting by default.



Red letters and bold fonts can go a long way when getting a
message*across. *I*especially*like some of the copy/paste formatting
when grabbing excerpts from web pages.



The default behavior of Kopete seems to have a similar mentality
where (some) usability is an afterthought. *In Kopete's case, its
default behavior has rendered the application practically useless to
the average user (i.e. Does it seriously need 5 Configure menu entries?
*Where's my "Add Account" wizard that's been a standard for Instant
Messengers for 10 years? *How do I turn off those pop-ups when people
sign on? *I'm installing Pidgin.) *I digress.



Back to email... If you're uncle bob's "FW: Jesus Saves" or
"IMPORTANT: *Buy Viagra" emails are seriously causing that much havoc
on your inbox, fix the problem from the source and tell uncle bob to
stop sending you email.



I feel too often that stripping features in the name of security
can only go so far. *There needs to be a middle ground where we aren't
all typing in gedit (or in this case, kate).



-Tres



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Old 08-10-2010, 03:09 AM
Yuval Levy
 
Default HTML by default in KMail

On August 9, 2010 04:28:20 am Aurélien Gâteau wrote:
> Turning HTML on for *displaying* email is something I have done every
> time I introduced someone to KMail.

You did one step in the process that Kubuntu/Kmail can't do (yet): you
analyzed "someone" and their situation. You came to the conclusion that HTML
fits their needs best. This conclusion can't be generalized.

Moreover, by doing this in front of them you taught them the ability to
customize further (or switch back), because they saw you navigate the
"preferences maze".


> If this option is not on then KMail
> is perceived as less powerful than their previous email client.

Unknowledgeable consumers perceive digital cameras with higher megapixel count
to be more powerful than models with lesser megapixel count. Experts know
better. Commercial interests cater to this misconception because it's easy
and more profitable than educating consumers and offering them real value.


> What does showing email in plain text protects you from?

Not much, you are right. Security is not the issue. Leaving users behind is.

If "Kubuntu aims to be the most widely used Linux system", it should also aim
to be usable by everybody *by default* and usable on the broadest possible set
of hardware combinations *by default*.

I would like to suggest a simple *principle*: The default should work for as
many use cases as possible, i.e. represent the minimum common denominator.

On top of the default, add a layer of customization. Detect (hardware) or
query (user) capabilities at install time and/or on first log in and customize
accordingly. This layer of customization is very crude at the moment: the
user must go into the settings of each application and configure it. I can
imagine a day when a piece of software will take care of this, ask a few
questions and do the configuration work for you.

In a third step things can be optimized further for a specific user/hardware
configuration.

The number one fix for the security issues you mention is consumer education.
If these are your concerns, a startup tip (like we have in Hugin [1], enabled
by default) is the solution.


> rogue links of a phish email

TIP: Never click on a link in an email from unverified source. It can lead
you to a different destination than what it purport to.

TECH SOLUTION: when a link in an HTML mail coming from an unverifiable source
is clicked, display a pop up question: "do you really want to go to <DISPLAY
FULL URL HERE>?"


> It does not protect you against spam messages phoning home to confirm
> your email address is valid. You are protected from this as long as the
> "Allow messages lo load external references from the Internet" option is
> unchecked.

TIP: Kmail disables external references from the Internet by default to
protect you from spam messages confirming that your email address is valid.


> It does not protect you against messages containing nasty javascript:
> The viewer widget is explicitly created with disabled Javascript, Java
> and plugins options [1].

TIP: did you know that Javascript is disabled by default to protect your
computer from malicious payload that could be sent to you by e-mail? It is
also good practice to browse the web with Javascript disabled by default and
enable only individual, trusted sites, to run Javascript on your computer.


I personally don't care so much about the defaults as I do care about not
leaving anybody behind.

Yuv


[1]
http://hugin.hg.sourceforge.net/hgweb/hugin/hugin/file/7865fdc91695/src/hugin1/hugin/MainFrame.cpp
look for OnTipOfDay around line 1224
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Old 08-10-2010, 03:52 AM
Tres Finocchiaro
 
Default HTML by default in KMail

I see a lot of constructive*criticism*around the idea of what users want.
I work in a medium sized organization (5,000 employees, 1,000 email users). *I've worked tech support for the organization under a Lotus Notes*regime, and now an Outlook regime. *My personal email was originally AOL (in the early 90s), and since has gone to Hotmail, Yahoo, and now Gmail. *All four services allow some html markup, and fonts default to variable width fonts. *I didn't pick them, that's just how they came.


When I say "Rich Text is no longer an optional feature" I base that on the fact that I have never met an individual outside of a development shop or IT department that prefers plain text/fixed font emails. *Infact, of our company's 96 IT users, only the developers even entertain using a font such as Courier New for composing Outlook emails. *Of those few, its usually an excerpt or snippet that's equally well suited for an attachment. *The remainder of the email is usually MS Sans/Arial, etc, with a not-so-uncommon group of individuals that use Comic Sans.


I am a developer, so I agree with the developers that html formatting is annoyingly abused and is generally not helpful by any meaning of the word when*receiving*emails from the non-computer savvy. *This opinion however is the vast minority. *I sincerely feel the bloat of HTML distorts the message more times than not, but I cannot ignore the fact that the industry is using it and people are buying it because thats what they want. (<-- bold). *Fixed fonts were invented for typewriters, and although we've found {other();} {purposes();} for*: them, the New York Times*(<-- Underlined) still uses variable width font on it's entire newspaper to fit more content in a smaller area.


@Yuv: *If my comments about installing PINE struck a cord, then I'm sorry. *I'm not sure what is driving the singled out attacks, and I'm as passionate as the next person about the usability of KDE, but I think you're going about it from the wrong direction. *If you feel I threw the first flame then here's my apology. *Please don't destroy a great conversation.

-Tres


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Old 08-10-2010, 04:17 AM
Mackenzie Morgan
 
Default HTML by default in KMail

On Monday, August 09, 2010 11:09:03 pm Yuval Levy wrote:
> On August 9, 2010 04:28:20 am Aurélien Gâteau wrote:
> > Turning HTML on for *displaying* email is something I have done every
> > time I introduced someone to KMail.
>
> You did one step in the process that Kubuntu/Kmail can't do (yet): you
> analyzed "someone" and their situation. You came to the conclusion that
> HTML fits their needs best. This conclusion can't be generalized.

Maybe not to 100% of people, but then nothing can be. To >90% though? Very
likely. Things should Just Work. "I'm going to not display the pretty
colours just because a bunch of geeks don't want to admit the year 1992 is
over even though I am fully capable of providing a better user experience by
doing so" != Just Work.

The "user education" megapixels rant:
If you've got a souped up engine on your car, but it looks like the wheels
will fall off as soon as I poke it, and the paint is peeling, anyone looking at
it is still going to think it's a piece of junk.

> > What does showing email in plain text protects you from?
>
> Not much, you are right. Security is not the issue. Leaving users behind
> is.

If you're suggesting "make users learn things they don't care about"...it just
doesn't strike me as a good idea. Users don't want to think. They don't want
to learn. They just want it to go.

If an annoying window popped up listing tips such as you had below on each
load, here's what one of my family members would do:
1. Not read far enough through it to find out there's a checkbox to disable
the annoying popup window
2. Click the X on the annoying popup window
3. Repeat every time they open the program

Though my family are a bit moot in this case, since I certainly wasn't going
to give them KDE3 when I switched them to Ubuntu 4 years ago (I wouldn't even
give me KDE3). Still, that's what I've seen them do in the case of "tip of
the day" boxes on applications for the last 15 years. Users don't read.

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Old 08-10-2010, 02:25 PM
Mackenzie Morgan
 
Default HTML by default in KMail

On Tuesday, August 10, 2010 03:39:58 am Aurélien Gâteau wrote:
> Startup tip are most often perceived as annoyance. While we, computer
> enthusiasts, enjoy using a computer and enjoy learning about the way it
> works, ordinary users do not care. They just want to read their email
> and get back to real life.

Heh, I'm a computer enthusiast and still hate start-up tip windows. If I want
to know how to do something, I'll either click until it works or read the
Help.

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Old 08-11-2010, 07:57 AM
Pan Shi Zhu
 
Default HTML by default in KMail

On Fri, Aug 6, 2010 at 6:28 PM, Jonathan Riddell <jriddell@ubuntu.com> wrote:
> At Akademy I queried the current and past KMail maintainers about HTML
> by default in e-mails. *They seemed to agree that it was a bit old
> fashioned to be keeping it off and agreed it would be fine to turn it
> on by default (in Kubuntu and upstream). *It seems unfriendly to me to
> show a message with most e-mails that the programme is hiding
> something from the user.
>

There are plenty of reasons to show that HTML email is rude.

http://www1.american.edu/cas/econ/htmlmail.htm
http://www.birdhouse.org/etc/evilmail.html
http://www.georgedillon.com/web/html_email_is_evil_still.shtml
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HTML_e-mail

So if an email client use HTML email by default, it is encouraging a
rude approach when writing email.

Obviously, this is bad. Because new users will choose a bad style
writing an email.

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Old 08-11-2010, 09:55 PM
Tres Finocchiaro
 
Default HTML by default in KMail

Great articles, Pan.

The wiki article does mention:
HTML mail allows the sender to properly express quotations (as in inline replying), headings, bulleted lists, emphasized text, subscripts and superscripts, and other visual and typographic
cues to improve the readability and aesthetics of the message, as well
as semantic information encoded within the message, such as the original
author and Message-ID of a quote.

-Tres

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Old 08-12-2010, 12:06 AM
Yuval Levy
 
Default HTML by default in KMail

On August 9, 2010 11:52:15 pm Tres Finocchiaro wrote:
> I work in a medium sized organization (5,000 employees, 1,000 email users).

Thank you for sharing your personal circumstances. I am not sure if a reply
in kind would be off-topic. I already feel guilty of straying this thread.


> I have never met
> an individual outside of a development shop or IT department that prefers
> plain text/fixed font emails.

Have you ever met an individual that prefers work to leisure?

I recently had the opportunity to consult a small law firm on productivity.
We filmed a day of a clerk at the desktop. Then we turned HTML off (both
reading and writing) and filmed again. Productivity soared (>5%).

Most savings were in the writing (formatting as "personal touch"). The
problem with HTML-reading is that it induces a loop of self-reinforcing
feedback that in the end affects writing (and thus the whole general public on
the receiving end). Else I would not mind an individual wasting their time.


> I am a developer, so I agree with the developers that html formatting is
> annoyingly abused and is generally not helpful

I'm coming from a different perspective to reach the same conclusion.


> *but I cannot ignore the fact that the industry is
> using it and people are buying it because thats what they want*.

Can you ignore that the industry is using the internal combustion engine and
people are buying it? It's not because that's what they want. It's because
they don't know any better (yet).


> Fixed fonts were invented for typewriters

and SMS was invented for diagnostic messaging. Then somebody else found a
killer app for it.

Speed-reading research shows that fixed-width fonts enables faster reading
because the brain uses the invisible grid for faster word recognition. I
don't know you, but in most cases I definitely prefer to get done faster with
reading email and move on to the next activity.


> the *New York Times* (<--
> Underlined) still uses variable width font on it's entire newspaper to fit
> more content in a smaller area.

And variable width also looks better (kerning). There are many arguments for
one or another type of font. And the decision is not black & white. I still
argue that for me email is better in plain text with a fixed width font
because it helps me process it quickly and efficiently.


> @Yuv: If my comments about installing PINE struck a cord, then I'm sorry.
> I'm not sure what is driving the singled out attacks, and I'm as
> passionate as the next person about the usability of KDE, but I think
> you're going about it from the wrong direction. If you feel I threw the
> first flame then here's my apology. Please don't destroy a great
> conversation.

@Tres: You did not offend me and I do not see where you find personal attacks
in my disagreement with your statements. If my comments offended you, please
accept my apology. I did/do not intend to flame you, and I do not feel flamed
by you. I do feel that this thread has digressed too much from its original
search for arguments for or against HTML in KMail, which is why initially I
took the shortcut of expressing doubt about your competence in the matter
(reading email) rather than addressing each single statement individually. I
am sorry to have contributed to the digression. I am sorry to have stated my
opinion which anyway does not really matter much in this context.

eMail is dying. The young generation is texting and tweeting (in plain text).
More than 80% of the email messages hitting SMTP servers are spam and HTML
played a significant role in getting us there. More HTML will only accelerate
the inevitable.

Yuv
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Old 08-12-2010, 12:09 AM
Yuval Levy
 
Default HTML by default in KMail

On August 10, 2010 03:39:58 am Aurélien Gâteau wrote:
> That's the whole point of choosing good defaults. Trying to provide the
> best setup out of the box for as much people as possible.

"as much people as possible": text is usable for everybody that likes html,
but not the other way around. So if the objective is "as much people as
possible", the default should be text, not html.

"best setup" is relative. You are (knowingly or not) playing a trade-off
between "as much people as possible" and "as visually attractive as possible".

You may want to watch the following TEDtalk [0]. You are looking for the
perfect Pepsi while you should be looking fro the perfect PepsiS (about 4:00
into the talk). Substitute software for food. Clusters. Embrace diversity.


> Since we do
> not have hundred of people running KDE in usability labs, we can only
> guess what the best defaults are, based on our personal experience, on
> how we see users use our products and on our intuition of what would be
> best for them (and not necessarily for us, that's the hard part).

Yes, the hard part is to see others' preferences and limitations. And to see
the consequences of such seemingly small decisions.

Displaying HTML by default triggers a feedback loop: the user will (wrongly)
assume that HTML mail is readable by every recipient. Worse: the user will
inevitably engage in bad practices. Have you ever received a mail with "my
replies in green between your blue lines"? It makes you long for top-posting.


> >> If this option is not on then KMail
> >> is perceived as less powerful than their previous email client.
> >
> > Unknowledgeable consumers perceive digital cameras with higher megapixel
> > count to be more powerful than models with lesser megapixel count.
> > Experts know better. Commercial interests cater to this misconception
> > because it's easy and more profitable than educating consumers and
> > offering them real value.
>
> We are not comparing a numeric value here.


You were talking *user perception* here. The analogy stands: You claim that
users *perceive* a mail client w/o HTML enabled by default as less powerful.
I claim that users *perceive* digital cameras with less pixel count as less
powerful. The analogy is that both perceptions are wrong.

The difference between the two cases is that a user buying lesser goods and
believing they just got the best digital camera does not affect the general
public. A user who has the impression that HTML is the way to do mail will
quote wrongly and mess up communication in many other ways.

Having them click, at least once, to see the HTML, will make them aware that
maybe not everybody can or want to read HTML.


> We are discussing whether we
> should keep a one-click barrier between the user and the content he
> wants to access.

You should not put barriers between the user and the content they want to
access. This applies equally to users who want to access the plain text
content. A simple solution is to complement the "click here to display the
HTML" button with a "make this a permanent preference" checkbox.


Yuv

[0] http://www.ted.com/talks/malcolm_gladwell_on_spaghetti_sauce.html

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