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Re: Intent to revive "expires" header from draft-ietf-mailext-new-fields-15

2008-07-22 06:37:00

here's my question - what should _really_ happen when a message "expires"?

I keep most incoming messages for archival purposes. So I wouldn't want my message store to delete them on my behalf - certainly not without my explicit consent. What is "pointless" to you might not be pointless to me - even an announcement about a talk that happened before I got the announcement is useful information to me - it tells me that the talk happened, and there might be a video of it on youtube.

(otoh, the vast majority of calls for papers that I receive - for past or future events - are useless to me. somehow conference organizers just Don't Get that they are spammers too)

the most I might want to do with an expiry date is
- for my MUA to optionally hide expired messages from me when displaying lists of messages (say in a folder) - for my MUA to not notify me that I have new mail when an expired message arrives.

a similar question - when should a sender set an expiry date?

I'm not saying it's a bad idea, I'm saying that these issues are hard to sort out and that's probably why we haven't standardized it yet.

(and regardless of how we define a message's expiry date, getting users to understand how to use such things consistently is even harder.)


Michael Welzl wrote:
Dear all,

When I get home from a trip, I am annoyed with the large
number of emails that have already become pointless, as
they are associated with a date in the past - talk
announcements, calls for papers and such.

Microsoft dealt with this issue using their "expiry-date" header,
but in a non-standard-conforming way (the "expiry-date" header
is deprecated). Now I wonder: why is there no standard which
all email clients could support?

If every email client on the planet would make it really, really
easy and obvious for the user to set an expiry date when writing
an email, I'm quite sure that a lot of people would make use
of this feature.

So we propose to standardize such a header. We would do this
by reviving the "Expiry" part of
(we've been in touch with the draft's author, Jacob Palme,
about this, and he likes the idea).

We even already fulfil the standard IETF requirement of
having two independent implementations:
* one by Microsoft (not really standard conforming, but
  still the same functionality)
* ours, a plugin for Thunderbird to set the date when sending,
  and a tool which logs into a pop server to automatically
  detect expired emails and remark or delete them.

Our software is available here:

Please let us know what you think!
(and if this is even the right place for this kind of discussion)

Michael Welzl  (and Thomas Nolf, in cc)