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Re: 2822upd-04 definition of terms needed

2008-01-28 12:26:26

At 12:24 27-01-2008, Bruce Lilly wrote:
I don't pretend to know whether or not any given person wants to do
the right thing.  I do know that a significant number of systems
are doing something quite silly, and I suspect that that silliness


is due in large measure to ambiguities in 2822 and/or conflicts
with other relevant specifications, and I further suspect that the
amount of such silliness will increase in the absence of

I suspect that this is due to people not reading the RFC to do the right thing.

One example of the sort of suspected conflict, and the reason for the
request for definitions, is illustrated by the following example of

Party A sends a message (e.g. an error report of some sort) to party
B.  Because A, a good net citizen, wishes to avoid mail loops, he
sets the envelope address to a null path in accordance with the
provisions established for that purpose by RFC 821 and affirmed by
RFC 1123 (though curiously not permitted by 2821, but that's not
an issue for the draft under discussion).  A does not want any
delivery reports or disposition notifications or message tracking
reports (or any response at all), so consequently does not include
SMTP commands and/or message fields which would trigger those (RFCs
3461-3464, 3798, 3888).  A specifically states (in the message body)
that he does not want any response.  Upon receipt of the message from
A (with null return path), B, a rather silly system, sends an automatic
receipt message. Contrary to years of established practice and good
sense, not to mention a documented strong recommendation against doing
so in RFC 3834, B sends that automated reply to the mailbox(es) in the
>From field of A's original message, completely ignoring the null return
path.  Why does B do such a silly thing?  Because RFC 2822 tells him to
do so (as does the current draft text, from which the following are

B does it because he/she has not read RFC 3834.

section 3.6.2, omitting pagination text and whitespace for brevity):

     In the absence of the "Reply-To:" field,
   replies SHOULD by default be sent to the mailbox(es) specified in the
   "From:" field unless otherwise specified by the person composing the

and section 3.6.3:

   When a message is a reply to another message, the mailboxes of the
   authors of the original message (the mailboxes in the "From:" field)
   or mailboxes specified in the "Reply-To:" field (if it exists) MAY
   appear in the "To:" field of the reply since these would normally be
   the primary recipients of the reply.

Note that neither text distinguishes between "automatic" (as used in
RFC 3834) replies vs. manually-initiated replies.  It appears (lacking
a real definition) that the use of "automatic" and variants in 2822upd-04
differs markedly from the meaning in RFC 3834; but (lacking a real
definition of how they are intended to be interpreted in 2822upd-04)
that's just a hunch.

When we reply to a message, it is usually addressed to the author(s). Automated replies are usually addressed to the sender of the message. There is a distinction between the two.

What can A do to avoid these annoying automated replies?  Not much
(at least if he "really wants to do the right thing") according to

"A" cannot do much as he/she depends on B to do the right thing.