Brad Knowles wrote:
The "Reply To" should be to "the List" then you read, hit reply enter
comments and send.
Bingo everyone gets a copy and it's on the list.
Wrong. See <http://www.unicom.com/pw/reply-to-harmful.html>.
I think Chip's diatribe is at least as wrong (probably wronger, in fact) as
the sentiment you are quoting against.
The diatribe seems to me to suffer from the sort of "techie arrogance" that
is all too common amongst net "experts". It refers to RFC822, an (out of
date, long-superceded - try RFC2822 now) transmission data format standard
as support for claims about desirable behaviour of the UI component of an
MUA - a subject on which the RFC makes no observations whatever. It quotes
RFC 1153 as an authority on what should be done in list servers to Reply-To
headers, but these are in fact not mentioned even once in that RFC.
Generally it appears to attempt to generate an aura of arcane knowledge and
experience which will preclude a mere layman from challenging its
conclusions, while scrupulously avoiding the provision of a single
technical reference or well-founded argument to asupport those conclusions.
The design of MUAs and list servers can be approached from the point of view
of practical ergonomics and fitness for purpose. The list server design has
to be subservient to the MUA design: there's a lot of MUAs out there and a
lot of user inertia to overcome, compared to the number of list servers and
amount of list administrator inertia. Some lists are designed to anonymise
the originator of the message; the design of such a list will be broken
instantly by a decision not to munge the Reply-To header. For many lists,
the most commonly intended reply action is to send the reply to the list
without a second copy to the originator: as the most common action, it
should be achievable with a single mouse-click or key-stroke - and almost
all the MUAs out there will not allow you to do that if the list software
doesn't munge the Reply-To header. For other lists the most commonly
required reply action is a reply to the list moderator - again, Reply-To
header munging is required to make this the default action of most MUAs.
There are lists where it is intened that the most common reply action is
reply to message originator: it would be utterly stupid for the Reply-To
header to be munged for these lists. For some lists the originator may not
receive messages addressed to the list (either because posts from
non-members are allowed - pretty rare now that spam has become sucgh a
scourge - or because the list allows members to go into send only mode from
time to time), so what the post that started this thread saw as "postings
double" is essential if the reply is to go both to the list and to the
originator. Each list has its own requirements, the standardised message of
RFC2822 is not adequate to cover all these requirements without header
What I want out of an MUA is to be able to chose between reply to
originator, reply to list, reply to list with copy to originator, reply to
list with copy to cc reipients of the original message, .... quite a few
options. The headers provided by RFC2822 are not adequate to permit an MUA
to offer all these options in a simple and straightforward usable manner.
For a list like asrg, I suspect the most common reply requirement is reply
to the list without sending an extra copy to the originator. Most MUAs make
it hard (more than a single mouse-click or key-stroke) to do that because
asrg does not munge the Reply-To header (maybe Elm makes it possible with
it's "g" command, I don't know) - I've used dozens of MUAs on several
varieties of Unix, various varieties of Windows, and a few odd-ball systems
and none of them has provided that capability as a single key-strokewith
unmunged Reply-To header. So I think this list would probably be improved
by adding the munging - biut I don't think it's worth arguing about; what I
do think is worth arguing about is someone claiming that as a general
principal such munging should not be done: the RFCs make no attenmpt to
dictate to me (or anyone else) what features I should put into applications
I supply to my users, and I don't like to see Chip claiming they do and
neither do I like to see Brad quoting him as if he were holy writ.
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