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

2005-05-26 15:39:09

On Thu May 26 2005 16:26, Paul Jakma wrote:

However, if I would suggest this "list-reply" functionality should be 
taken as "reply in a list context"

One problem is defining precisely what that means, in a way which is
likely to reach consensus.

This MUA also ignores From/Reply-To when "reply in list context" is 

That strikes me as equivalent to saying "screw you, I'm going to
completely ignore your stated request as well as the relevant standards
and do something different for spite".

"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 

I would disagree that the list-reply functionality of some MUAs means 
"reply /only/ to list". One of more popular MUA which implements 
list-reply supports this view (as it will take MFT into 

The problem with that is that it leads to nasty surprises; an invisible
(non-standard, not displayed) header field changes the way a function
works, with no warning to the user.
As you point out above, Reply-To would suggest a preference for both 
'public' and 'private' replies, which is /not/ quite the preference I 
/really/ want to indicate to others, or anyone else like me who 
prefers to receive direct copies on list replies and any subsequent 
replies in a thread. (And the difference is critical to me, even if i 
fail to convince anyone here of the need for extra standards work, I 
wont be using Reply-To, because of limitations/dangers in its use in 
a list context).

Beware of some things that you may read; there are bogus claims that
"Reply-To prevents direct responses to an author" -- that is simply
untrue.  A moment's thought should convince you that given a message:

  From: fred(_at_)somewhere(_dot_)example(_dot_)net
  Reply-To: the-mertzs(_at_)example(_dot_)com
  Cc: ethel(_at_)another(_dot_)example(_dot_)edu

nothing prevents you from sending a response to any of those
mailboxes, or indeed to random-person(_at_)some(_dot_)example(_dot_)org(_dot_)  
Now it may
be the case that *some* MUAs lack a single-key/click/whatever
"reply-to-author(s)" function, but that is an implementation issue
with those MUAs -- there certainly are several MUAs that do have such
a function -- and in no way results from some putative evil
characteristic of the Reply-To field.

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).

Well, my preferred MUA is Pine. There is 0 chance of persuading the 
Pine developers to add support for such things without something that 
is to make it to standards track.

No need. Pine already provides the option for a user to reply to the
author(s) (From field) or where the author(s) suggested (Reply-To
field) or to "group" and/or to any mailbox in the users address book or
which the user can type.

So is there any answer? Without wishing to have you prejudice your 
stance on the question(s), would you be able to suggest which avenues 
would the most fruitful to investigate?

I'd first have to see a definition of that "list context" that is
somehow distinctive from any other "context" and which makes some
sort of sense given the fact that -- no matter what -- a respondent
is going to have to decide where he wants to send responses.

Am I right in thinking this is where I draw up a draft, eg one 
focused solely on the issue of affecting mailbox selection in "list 
context" replies? (Or would it be better to first answer these 
questions here, in list email?).

Up to you.  Unless you have a very clear idea of the problem and
the breadth of possible solutions, and have carefully considered
the implications, a draft may be premature.

Initially I tried whining on the mailling list concerned "Please, use 
reply-all like $DEITY intended - i like to get direct mail for 
replies and threads i'm involved in". Replies ranged from:

- Why could you possibly want a direct copy?
- So we're supposed to remember every person's preference when we
- Your fault for using Pine, use Mutt
- Set a Mail-Followup-To header.
- Oh stop whining paul
- Why dont you just filter based on In-Reply-To and/or References and
   create the extra copy yourself?

The more I whinge, the more beer gets spilled on me 'accidently' at 
LUG meets. (And recently things have taken a turn for the worse, the 
empty glasses now also get thrown at me). :)

Sounds like the root of the problem is MUAs that implement the "spiteful"
stance noted earlier.  Maybe a draft along the lines of "MUAs that do
not respect standard field semantics considered harmful" might raise
awareness.  Whether or not that root problem will be fixed is another