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Re: Code of Conduct on the Debian mailinglists

On Fri, Aug 04, 2006 at 03:04:05PM +1000, Ben Finney wrote:
> Wouter Verhelst <wouter@debian.org> writes:
> > You know, I use a mail program. Replying to people is in my fingers
> > as "hitting a button". A very specific button, especially for that
> > purpose.  I expect my MUA to Do The Right Thing (TM).
> Most MUAs will do the right thing when you reply; they'll send a
> message to the single person who wrote the message. The person who
> wrote the message can indicate where this single-person reply should
> go, by specifying header fields such as 'From' and 'Reply-To'.

If you're partaking in a discussion on a mailing list, the replies
should generally be sent back to the list.  If I want to respond
privately to a post, I should be aware that I'm breaking away from the
public discussion and be aware enough to send the email to the address
provided in the From field.

> Many MUAs also have a separate specific facility, for replying to
> *every* address related to the discussion. This is fine for a group of
> individuals, but problematic for a mailing list, since one of those
> addresses will be the mailing list address itself, and then some
> people get two copies -- one individually (which usually arrives
> first, since it has less processing time) and one from the mailing
> list.

This is something that should be solved on the list manager side by not
sending a duplicate of the email when it can see that an email was
already sent to an address it recognizes.  In fact, some of the lists
I'm subscribed to do this.

> We can't use the mailing list address for this: that misses anyone
> who's not subscribed but wants followup messages.

Then they set Reply-To to both the list address and their own.

> We can't use the Reply-To field in an existing message: that is
> specifically for *individual* responses to the person posting the
> message.

  This field provides a general mechanism for indicating any
  *mailbox(es)* to which responses are to be sent.

> This is completely wrong for followup messages intended for
> all interested parties.

  In the second case, an author may wish *additional persons to be made
  aware of, or responsible for, replies.*  A somewhat different use may
  be of some help to "text message teleconferencing" groups equipped
  with automatic distribution services: *include the address of that
  service in the "Reply- To" field of all messages submitted to the
  teleconference;* then participants can "reply" to conference
  submissions to guarantee the correct distribution of any submission of
  their own.

Above quotes are from Section 4.4.3 of RFC882, the description of the
Reply-To / Resent-Reply-To fields (emphasis mine).

> There *is* no header field recommended by the IETF that meets this
> need. We use Mail-Followup-To because it actually meets the need
> described above.

Reply-To specifically meets this need.  It is even addressed in the
actual description of the field.  If you want to send a private reply,
the From field gives you plenty of information.  Otherwise, the Reply-To
field provides all the information you need.  There's no reason to
add an ad hoc header to 'fix' something that isn't broken.

GPG Key: 1024D/61326D40 2003-09-02 James Vega <jamessan@debian.org>

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