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Re: best name for followups?

1997-06-30 13:56:50
``Every time you do a "Group-reply" some poor shmoes are receiving
duplicate e-mails.''

This is one user's description of what happens when you follow up to

   From: Member <member(_at_)whatever(_dot_)org>
   To: List <mailing-list(_at_)some(_dot_)net>

It's used as a justification---in fact, the only justification---for
reply-to munging, i.e., adding Reply-To: 


This problem is well known. The solution---having a header field that
says where to send followups---has been proposed many times. But MUAs
don't seem to support any such field. Why not?

Partially because there's not a consensus that this is a good idea.

Even if you only have reply, sometimes you want to reply to author
only, sometimes to author and all recipients, sometimes to author and
particular recipients, etc.  Sometimes you want to use the reply-to
field; other times you want to override that field.  Add a followup-to
(wide-reply-to, group-reply-to whatever) field to the mix and it just
makes things more confusing.  (e.g. Sometimes you really do want to
reply to the From/to/cc addresses instead of the addresses in either
the followup-to or reply-to fields.  etc.)

Followup-to would also not solve many of the problems that currently
exist with list reply-to munging:

+ The author of the subject message isn't always on the mailing list,
in which case he misses the replies/followups.

+ A single message can be posted to multiple mailing lists, in which
case followups should arguably go to all lists.  (Yes, this is
annoying for those on several of those lists, but cross-list
discussions are often useful.)

+ The author may post from a different address than his list
subscription.  I post from moore(_at_)cs(_dot_)utk(_dot_)edu but get inbound 
list mail
at moore+listname(_at_)cs(_dot_)utk(_dot_)edu; and inbound list mail gets read 
at a
lower priority than mail sent to my primary mailbox.  When replies
from my list postings go to moore(_at_)cs(_dot_)utk(_dot_)edu, I can respond 

And a followup-to like header is certainly not "the" only available
solution.  For instance, UAs could suppress duplicate messages.  This
doesn't require any changes to the protocols, or to the list servers,
and has immediate benefit for anyone whose UA implements it.  

(Though there are security risks with trusting message-ids alone for have to actually compare the messages to see if they're
similar enough to call them duplicates.  But message-ids should be a
good way to identify *candidates* for duplicate suppression.)

Perhaps it would help to have a good name. ``Followup-To'' is taken by
news, unfortunately. ``Wide-Reply-To'' and ``Group-Reply-To'' are
incomprehensible to novice users. ``Followups'' might work, but it's
probably too close to ``Followup-To''.

We've already had proposals for a name.  What we haven't had is
agreement that such proposals, if adopted, would do more good than


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