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Re: mail-followup-to / mail-copies-to

2005-05-26 11:18:27

On Thu May 26 2005 12:34, Paul Jakma wrote:

1. What a message originator wishes to indicate as a preference


You indicated previously 'reply-to' should be used, however it has 
problems (and is ignored completely in the "list context" reply mode 
of some MUAs - where the non-standard MFT is not).

Well, if an MUA user selects "reply (only) to list", is it really
surprising that the reply goes only to the list mailbox?  Ultimately,
what a respondent chooses will affect where a response goes, no matter
what somebody else might suggest.  That's a key point.
Right, but it most definitely has problems. (It's not fine-grained 
enough to distinguish between public and private replies).

The field simply specifies "the mailbox(es) to which the author of the
message suggests that replies be sent".  Whether a response is "public"
or "private" is at least as much under the control of the respondent.
Now it's certainly true that the Reply-To field doesn't indicate *why*
the message author has made the suggestion in any machine-readable
form, but an author who wishes to indicate a reason can use a phrase (in
any suitable charset and language using RFC 2047 mechanisms) in named
group syntax or name-addr syntax, or in a (mildly deprecated) comment.

In your specific case, distinguishing between suggestions for "private"
and "public" responses won't help, because you want responses to go to
*both* a public list and to your personal mailbox.

Send to list sends only to list because there is no good way for the 
originator what their preference is on list-replies.

"Only to list" really has to mean "only to list".  If there were a
hypothetical way for a message originator to cause a recipient's
MUA to do something else for "reply only to list", matters would
be far worse than now (I think Keith Moore made that observation last

The majority of  
people today prefer not to receive a direct copy

Without a) a carefully worded question, and b) a scientific, statistically
significant sample of responses, I would hesitate to make such a claim.

What MUAs do and dont do is not directly in the hands of the 
standards, but we can learn from it as to whether there is a need for 
further standard specification, and if so what.

Sometimes it's beyond the scope of what standardization can do.
However there is no hope of influencing future implementations to do 
'the right thing' without some attempt to standardise what this 
'right thing' is. (To be specific, this "right thing" for me 
currently is a way to allow me to specify my unusual preference to be 
included in list replies).

"specify [a] preference" == "suggest [where] replies be sent" == Reply-To.

Whether or not a particular recipient will honor that suggestion, or
whether his choice of MUA will permit it, are separate matters.
Yes. Unfortunately, this doesn't solve my problem as more and more 
MUAs implement 'list reply' functionality, and do not reply to 

Many UAs provide multiple response options.  If a respondent (habitually
or otherwise) chooses something other than "where the author suggested"
there isn't anything you can do.  One thing is certain; if you do not
provide a suggestion (via the established standard mechanism), you
guarantee that no respondent can comply with your wishes other than
by accident.  In the absence of such a suggestion, some respondents
may be forced into "reply-to-all" (which happens to be compatible with
what you want), whereas others may choose "reply-to-list-only", etc.

I very much wish to avoid getting stuck in #2-#4.

You can't avoid #2; the respondent's freedom of choice trumps the
author's suggestion.  Always.  You can try to convince MUA developers
to provide a set of response options that includes "where the author
suggested" -- maybe some will, maybe some won't (that also of course
applies to a new proposal, but encouraging support for a standard
mechanism may be easier to get across).

Ok. It can't be 'Mail-Copies-To' unfortunately, because it's already 
in use in (i think) NNTP, can it?

There's no registered field with that name, though there's a draft that
contains a proposal.  First-come, first-served. (but I don't think that's
the answer)
Which MTAs should retain in replies.

MTAs play no direct role in responses; perhaps you mean MUAs?

The first problem is that no MUA currently recognizes that, so none will
copy it to responses.

A second issue is what happens when a respondent intentionally wishes to
send a private response?  And how is the MUA supposed to know the
respondent's intentions?

Does that sound reasonable?

First question is precisely what semantics are you trying to indicate,
and how is that different from "the mailbox(es) to which the author of
the message suggests that replies be sent"?  I.e. first carefully
formulate the problem that you're trying to solve, as clearly and
precisely as possible -- solving the wrong problem is rarely a good

Another point to consider is that solutions to problems do not
exclusively lie in the realm of "let's invent a new header field to ...".