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Re: Attempts at establishing harmful conventions

2004-11-30 16:27:49

Bruce Lilly writes:

I do think there's a significant difference between conventions for the
Subject field that the message author (or the author's MUA) uses to
indicate information about the content, and alterations to the Subject
field that are done by intermediaries.

There may be a distinction in the mind of a message author or
UA software author.  But once the message is sent, there's no
way to reliably differentiate "a short string identifying the topic
of the message" from any cruft that may have been added (as
demonstrated by the various "Re: " examples).

what's wrong with abbreviations? why should I have to say "reply to your message: Attempts at establishing harmful conventions" instead of using "Re:"? more to the point, why is it a bad idea for the subject to indicate that the message is a reply or some other kind of response? why is it a bad idea for the subject to give some indication of message topic? where do you draw the line between what belongs in the subject and what belongs elsewhere?

I don't think this is cruft - I think it's useful information that reasonably belongs in the subject field. what's broken is something else - perhaps our expectation that all messages in a thread should have the same subject.