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

2008-07-23 08:26:37

People are different. I'd be more than happy to let my MUA
even silently delete past:

* talk announcements
* CFPs
* special offers
* "out of the office messages"

(I'd happily just delete special offers and out of office messages,
whatever the date is...)

The problem is that you don't know what an 'expired' message is about
unless you read it.

People don't always do things right. So, a mailing list admin might well
set up a 'you have 3 days to authenticate your subscription' message
with an expiry date, or someone might send you a bill payment reminder
with an expiry date of when it's due or whatever. You can be sure
someone will use it in a way YOU don't want them to use it or think it
should be used (or even ways that any standard prohibits). That's just
the way people are... The amount of badly formed non-spam messages we
receive is incredible, and the MIME/RFC822 standards have been around
for years. If people can't get that right even now, you can guarantee
that people will use 'expire' in an inappropriate way.

So, would you still be happy to have your MUA silently delete expired

Believe it or don't: yes.
Granted, when I said "silently delete", I meant "silently move it to my
folder, which is what my MUA does when I delete emails. This way, if I
lose something and start to wonder what's wrong, I can still look things up
in the trash. If I don't start to wonder what's wrong, I believe I have the
to assume it's the sender's fault that their message never reached me. This
is what they risk when falsely setting the expiry date.

Other people could use it to automatically move emails to a suitable
folder, which makes email reading more efficient and still doesn't
let them miss the stuff that you mention above. But they can regard
it as low priority and go through it if and when they consider it

AFAICS, the only safe way to use 'expire' would either be for it not to
move/delete messages at all (in which case, what's the point) or to have
different rules handling expire differently from different senders (when
you know how THAT sender uses it), but this would only be useful if you
repeatedly got expired messages from particular people (which is doubtful)

I disagree, on the basis of what I said above.

(I do wonder, how important is this anyway? How often do you receive
messages after they would have expired? The only time I can think it
would be even slightly useful is if you've just come back from a
vacation and haven't checked your mail whilst you've been away, but then
a few CFP or talk announcements is going to be irrelevant amongst all
the other thousands of semi-junk messages you'll have received!)

I agree that this would be especially useful (but not "the only time
when this would be even slightly useful") after a holiday. The few
announcements are not going to be irrelevant among the other
semi-junk things.

Something more time consuming, to give you one more example:

"Michael, please do this until ... messages" - where you have to
carefully read the whole thing, only to find out that the sender
has absolutely no use for what he demanded by the time you
read this message. That happens to me on a regular basis and
is really annoying.

Putting all of this together, for me and I'm sure that a lot of other
people, an expired field would be well worth having. You shoudln't
make your own personal preferences and daily life with email the

Probably we (as we discuss on this list) are not even good examples.
There are newspaper articles and even books discussing how to
deal with emails, for higher level managers - I'm sure that, for these
people, any small contribution to reducing the number of daily emails
is extremely valuable.

I don't have a massive problem with an 'expires' header, I just see it
as, at best, pointless, and at worst, dangerous in the hands of an
unthinking user (of which there are many using the Internet).

Pointless: this is based on your personal preference which you
outlined above.

Dangerous: no, because of its strictly advisory nature. You would have
to be unthinking enough to set your mail client to always delete expired
emails on purpose, then wonder what's wrong. This is equivalent to
formatting a hard disk on purpose, then wondering what's wrong - that
a user could do that is the inevitable risk that comes with every
you give him (for once, I think it's actually better to use the male form,
the sake of political correctness!  :-)   ), but this should not be at the
of the rest of us.


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