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Re: Code of Conduct on the Debian mailinglists

On Thursday 03 August 2006 23:37, John Goerzen took the opportunity to say:
> The mailer is doing the right thing.  Sending a CC isn't a "shout".
> The sender isn't.  If the sender doesn't want CCs, it's fully within the
> sender's power to specify that in the list headers.  Most senders on
> this list that don't want CCs do that.
> I am on dozens of mailing lists.  There are thousands of participants on
> this list alone.  I subscribe to, and leave, mailing lists all the time.
> Why should a person with a personal preference expect me to shoulder the
> burden of maintaining a mental list of that, when it's within his power
> to express his preference in a way that mail readers understand
> automatically?
> The same goes for the Debian CoC.  I agree with Wouter on this.  The CoC
> is at odds with the desires expressed in the mail headers.

In the absence of a stated preference in a machine-readable format, a default 
policy should be followed. The Debian mailing lists CoC says that you should 
only send followups to the list. How is this at odds with "the desires 
expressed in the mail headers", when no desire *is* expressed in the mail 
headers? No Reply-To or Mail-Followup-To at all is not expressing a desire to 
get a separate copy.

> Reply-To has been around since at least RFC822 (1982), and the person
> that wants to avoid personal CCs could use it.  It is standard and it is
> widely supported.

The problem with Reply-To is that there are two kinds of reply you can make to 
a list post: a list reply (follow up) and a private reply. It's not defined 
which kind of reply Reply-To applies to (that's the rationale behind 
Mail-Followup-To and Mail-Reply-To). One view is that Reply-To points to 
where the sender wants replies to go, without discussion. In that case you 
can't use it to say "I don't want copies of list mail, but it's OK to send 
private replies". I think it should only be interpreted in the context of 
private replies. In any case, if you set Reply-To to the list, many mailers 
will make it cumbersome to send private replies. That's one of the arguments 
against Reply-To mangling. That it collides with any Reply-To set by the 
sender is just another one.

> There are, of course, problems with it.  Mail-Followup-To is also a
> defacto standard (note that RFC is not the only way for a standard to
> occur; HTML, for instance, was a standard long before it got an RFC).
> Many mail clients do the right thing when they see it, and that is
> especially true here.
> If the person with the complaint had used this, he would have been fine.

Problem: With most mailers you can't readily do that. You'd have to use your 
own MTA or some hack to automatically add it. Not only geeks use mailing 
lists, so it's not a viable option. On the other hand, all mailers let you 
edit the recipient list (although admittedly it can become rather 
repetitive). But why don't you use the list-reply command that Mutt provides? 
It's bound to L by default, AFAICS.

Furthermore, all mailers involved in a thread have to know about 
Mail-Followup-To and preserve it, or things will break. Though you could say 
that it's a good policy to keep all the other recipients when replying.

In short, it's a mess. Lots of improvements can be made, to MUAs, MLMs, as 
well as MTAs. An RFC straightening things out could help.

Magnus Holmgren        holmgren@lysator.liu.se
                       (No Cc of list mail needed, thanks)

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