[ mailman-Patches-1906479 ] Add option for only munging Reply-To if it is not there

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Mon Mar 3 23:34:20 CET 2008


Patches item #1906479, was opened at 2008-03-03 20:45
Message generated for change (Comment added) made by auvor
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Category: mail delivery
Group: Mailman 2.1
Status: Open
Resolution: None
Priority: 5
Private: No
Submitted By: Knut Auvor Grythe (auvor)
Assigned to: Nobody/Anonymous (nobody)
Summary: Add option for only munging Reply-To if it is not there

Initial Comment:
As I know a lot of you developers agree, Reply-To: header munging is not very nice. However, it appears to be a necessary evil sometimes.

My biggest problem with Reply-To: header munging is that there is no way for a poster to direct replies off-list. Any attempt to do so will fail completely because MUAs obey the Reply-To: header, and the users don't notice. Ironically, these users are often the ones who made the munging necessary in the first place.

However, I believe there is a solution to this problem. How about only adding a Reply-To: header only if one did not previously exist? This way, headers will be munged in the normal case, but if someone adds their own Reply-To: header for some reason, their value will be kept. Naturally, this behaviour should be optional, since it alters the behaviour of the lists.

I have attached a patch which enables this functionality. The patch is against 2.1.9, but seems to apply on 2.1.10b1 without complaining.

PS: This patch slightly changes the order in which munging is done, causing mlist.reply_to_address to be appended instead of prepended to the original Reply-To: header. I didn't consider this a problem, as it makes the behaviour if "This list" and "Explicit address" consistent. I also feel it made the code more straight-forward to read.

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>Comment By: Knut Auvor Grythe (auvor)
Date: 2008-03-03 23:34

Message:
Logged In: YES 
user_id=1137196
Originator: YES

I understand that you do not like header munging. I don't either. However,
a lot of people seem to depend on it, and quite a few of them are on my
server. Unfortionately, the lists on my server are not only used for
general discussion, but also for requests that should be responded to
off-list. With my user base, some level of reply-to munging is simply
unavoidable, whether I like it or not. I would just like a way to make it
less of an obstacle for the remaining parts of the user base.

I understand your objections, and I see that they could cause problems in
some scenarios. However, they would not cause problems in my case. I don't
believe chit-chat lists of this kind are very unusual, so I believe other
people than me also could use this feature. Hence the patch.

I am only proposing an option. It will be off by default. Please consider
it.

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Comment By: Mark Sapiro (msapiro)
Date: 2008-03-03 22:55

Message:
Logged In: YES 
user_id=1123998
Originator: NO

You miss my point. Perhaps the first paragraph of my prior comment is a
configuration error that can be corrected, but your minimizing the
consequences seems to me a lot like an argument against reply-to munging.

In any case, configuration mistakes aside, there are people who set a
meaningful Reply-To: intentionally just because they want replies to go to
somewhere other than the From: address. You are asking that these people
remember to drop the Reply-To: whenever they make an 'ordinary' post to the
list. This seems to me to be exactly discrimination against users who know
what they are doing.

The fact is that you cannot determine the poster's intent based on the
presence or absence of Reply-To: in the incoming post, and trying to do so
may 'solve' some problems but will create others.

Also, it is my opinion that I, as the poster of a reply, should be the one
to determine whether or not my reply goes to the list. Why would I want to
give control over (the default for) that decision to the poster of the
message to which I'm replying.

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Comment By: Knut Auvor Grythe (auvor)
Date: 2008-03-03 22:15

Message:
Logged In: YES 
user_id=1137196
Originator: YES

Of course, this behaviour will fail in some cases, but at least in my
environment such problems are rare and easily solvable. The user will
quickly realize that something is wrong, ask the more experienced users
what is going on, and be told how to resolve their problem. Removing their
Reply-To header is easy, and it is a one-time operation. It also works in
all MUAs.

Also, having to repost the message because you replied to an erroneously
set Reply-To header is a minor annoyance for a single person (the poster),
who has to repost the message to the list. In the opposite case, with
unconditional Reply-To header munging, every misdirected post is an
annoyance to the entire list. It also happens every time someone requests
off-list replies, instead of just a single time before the user removes his
explicit Reply-To header.

If one is concerned about such clients one could for instance start with
setting first_strip_reply_to to off, and then enable
reply_to_only_set_if_empty after some period of time. During the
transitional period the users with malconfigured clients will quickly ask
why they suddenly receive two copies of all replies. They will then be told
to remove their Reply-To header from their client, and will probably do so.
This is a minor annoyance to a single person, the one with a malconfigured
client.

Believe me, there is nothing I'd rather do than disable the munging
completely. However, this would not solve anything, only cause even more
e-mails to be sent in the wrong direction. Therefore I'd like a milder form
of munging, which doesn't discriminate users who know what they're doing.

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Comment By: Mark Sapiro (msapiro)
Date: 2008-03-03 21:37

Message:
Logged In: YES 
user_id=1123998
Originator: NO

Consider that user at example.com configures her MUA to add a Reply-To:
user at example.com because when configuring the MUA, she was asked where
replies should be sent and didn't realize this was optional or for whatever
reason answered user at example.com.

Consider that userb at example.com sets all his MUAs to generate Reply-To:
userb at example.net because thats where he wants to read his mail regardless
of where the original was sent from.

How does your patch distinguish these cases from the one where the poster
sets an explicit Reply-To: for this message only?

The whole idea of reply-to munging is the notion that the list knows
better than the poster where replies should go. If you want the poster to
be able to determine this, don't mung the reply-to.

-1



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