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Re: MoreOn: Attempts at establishing harmful conventions

2004-11-30 17:51:50

The "[listname]" insertion is clearly the "sore point" case. This is natural because it seems to defy the otherwise reasonable-sounding rule that i myself proposed, which is that the Subject field is for human beings. However, I'm not sure that this is really as bad a layering violation as it might seem. While the list processor is indeed inserting something into the "human" part of the stream, it is (at least in theory) doing so in accord with a policy set by a list owner. A list owner should be able to choose to insert any strings he wants to in messages that go through his list, to convey a meaning that he wants to convey. The fact that list processors make it so easy to insert such strings may be simply a reflection of the fact that so many list owners want to be able to do that. But they want it for its human meaning, not for any intended protocol consequences.

I would certainly be unhappy with a list processor that *required* the insertion of such strings, but when a list administrator chooses to have them inserted,this is the human moderator's decision to "put his mark" on all messages to the list. Sort of like a dog urinating on a tree -- it may not always be pretty or desirable, but it's going to be awfully hard to design a tree that can prevent itself from being peed on. -- Nathaniel

On Nov 30, 2004, at 7:39 PM, Steve Dorner wrote:

At 7:16 PM -0500 11/30/04, Nathaniel Borenstein wrote:
I think we need to distinguish between human-level conventions and protocol elements. Any "harmfulness" in the former is not something that can be addressed technically.

Ok, human bad, protocol element good. That's quite clear. Pesky humans.

Is [nameoflist] inserted by a list processor a human-level convention?

If a machine puts it there, I think it's reasonable for another machine to try to take it out. If we as an Internet community can make that easier, we will have done a good thing.
Where are we going, and why are we in this handbasket?

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