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Re: cc'ing (was Re: Mozilla goes GTK+ instead of Qt)

On 02-Nov-1998, Craig Sanders <cas@taz.net.au> wrote:
> Steve> I didn't, just pointing out, again, what I pointed out before
> Steve> (check the archives yourself) that the "problems" associated
> Steve> with the reply-to being set are outweighed by people who don't
> Steve> trim when it ISN'T set.
> jeeeeezzuusss!!!
> i can't believe it.  not here too!?!
> i thought people in debian-devel had a better class of clue than that.
> setting the Reply-To: header on a mailing list is just plain fucking
> stupid. it is brain-dead, and it is completely cretinous. it serves no
> useful purpose and causes numerous problems.
> in case nobody has posted the relevant url yet, here it is:
>         http://www.unicom.com/pw/reply-to-harmful.html

Here's a tip: just because it is posted on the web doesn't make
it god's own truth. 

I have read this page before, and it still isn't convincing.

	- It doesn't cover the case of CCs (it carefully ignores
	them, laughably claiming that group reply is good enough,
	when clearly according to Debian policy it isn't good enough).
	This is a serious issue for people who pay by the minute
	or by the megabyte for their connect time, but is *always*
	ignored by people who have flat rate or free connections.

	- It tells list administrators that they can improve the
	number of replies going to the list by changing their mail
	readers.  But it is not the list administrators that have the
	half-assed mail readers -- it is the list users.  Since they
	will never read the web page, the suggestion that you should
	use a decent mail reader is useless.

	- It claims that it makes the "reply-to-author" break, but
	this can avoided by changing the Reply-To header to the
	From header.  If it ever turns out to be a problem.
	Of course you shouldn't be using Reply-To anyway, you should
	just set "From:" properly.  And if you can't set "From:"
	you should fix your mailreader or firewall.

	- The Freedom of Choice argument is bogus, since it relies on
	the "reply-to-author" being broken, which it isn't.  Better
	still, most good mail-reader even ask you "want to reply to the
	list or the sender?".  In other words if you want freedom of
	choice, a good mailreader will give it to you.  If the list
	owner wants to run the list as they desire, with the defaults
	the want, they can do that too.

	- The Principle of Least Work argument assumes that the
	mailing software is really dumb about dealing with Reply-To,
	yet in the Coddling the Brain-Dead section we are told
	that we shouldn't pander to people with dumb mailing software.

	- The Principle Of Least Surprise is bogus, if the mail
	came from the list, 'r' should reply to the list.  Nothing
	surprising there.

	- I have never seen a private message broadcast across a
	Reply-To list, but I have seen them broadcast across CC:ed
	lists because the list is hidden among the numerous CCs.
	I have also seen private messages jump from private to public
	lists because of erroneous manual setting of To: (which
	the author of the web page encourages and says isn't a problem
	for some people to have to do).

	- Setting Reply-To is called "munging" when the list admin
	does it, but is called "setting" when the user does it.
	Why the distinction? 

Basically, the article is not a solid argument, it is a bunch of
justifications for an opinion that masquerades as an argument.
If you agree with the opinion the arguments sound persuasive.
If not, you notice they all rely on each other yet somehow
they seem to contradict each other ("don't make it easy to
use bad mailers" "no, accomodate people with bad mailers").

Steve Lamb posted a good criticism of the article here:

Setting Reply-Tos are no more broken than running a list expecting
group reply to be used.   Both cause problems.  Both can be overcome
with a decent mailer.  But they have different default behaviour,
which can be very important.

> craig
> flame brought to you in the interests of knocking this stupid idea on the
> head before it takes over. it's a perniciously dangerous meme.

It's nothing of the sort.  What is dangerous is assuming that the
alternative is any better -- both are somewhat broken.  There is no
good alternative available at the moment except to get a very good
mail-reader.  Unfortunately, that doesn't do anything about anyone
else on the list.

Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary
safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.     - Benjamin Franklin

Tyson Dowd   <tyson@tyse.net>   http://tyse.net

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