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MoreOn: Attempts at establishing harmful conventions

2004-11-30 18:03:38

On Tue November 30 2004 19:16, 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.

Agreed that we need to make the distinction.  The harmfulness
arises when mindless mechanical processing subverts or otherwise
interferes with the human communication by attempting to
overload protocol keywords onto natural language text.

When you choose the "Reply" function in your MUA, and it gives you a 
window in which the subject has been initialized to "Re: <old 
subject>," this is at best a "helpful suggestion" from your MUA, 
because you can always change it.

"at best", as you say. It can also be viewed as an obnoxious
intrusion into human-to-human communication. Few users
bother to change it; therefore it has become mere noise.

Arguing over the "right" way to do "Re:" or "Fwd:" or  
"[ietf-822]" is about as technically useful as arguing over the right 
greeting or salutation for an email message, because ultimately the 
user controls it, not the software.

*If* the user controls it -- recall that the discussion started
regarding cruft added automatically by mailing list software
which is not under control of the message author(s).

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