[Mailman-Developers] Reply-To munging: stop the madness

Marc MERLIN marc_news at merlins.org
Mon Apr 21 23:34:21 EDT 2003

On Mon, Apr 21, 2003 at 07:18:04PM -0600, Joseph Knapka wrote:
> And by "the madness", I mean the fact that I've seen more list traffic
> devoted to reply-to munging in the past year than to any other single
> subject. That's just silly; but Reply-To flamewars seem to break out
> every three months or so on every list I'm subscribed to. It's a
> tragic waste of bandwidth.
> It seems to me that the obvious way to make everyone happy is to make
> the presence of "Reply-To: list" headers a per-subscriber option. I

I spent more hours than I care to admit writing a very extensive patch that
did that in many details.
Unfortunately, it was a bit too complex for Barry's comfort when he thought
the release was close (it ended up taking another 9 months or so, but
neither of us knew that back then)

I have to admit that after having seen all that personal time ultimately go
to waste, I kind of lost interest.
(incidently, I was also mainly writing this for the benefit of
lists.sourceforge.net, but considering that 1) the site manager ultimately
caved in to the few reply-to whiners 2) I was layed off a few months after
that anyway, this is not something I really feel like touching anymore)
> have implemented something simple that achieves this goal in a fairly
> icky way; patch and explanation below. However, the main purpose of
> this message is to suggest that in some future Mailman release,
> "Reply-To: list" be a subscriber-centric option rather than a
> list-centric one.
> ---
> The patch below permits a list's accept_these_nonmembers attribute to
> contain entries of the form "^+listname", which causes Mailman to
> assume, for post-moderation purposes, that all subscribers to
> "listname" are also subscribed to the list being managed. For example,
> if list A's accept_these_nonmembers contains ^+B, then all
> subscribers to B will be allowed to post to A. This permits the
> following (suboptimal) solution to the Reply-To munging controversy:
>    For each list L for which L.reply_goes_to_list="This list", create
>    a second list L-no-reply-to with L-no-reply-to.reply_goes_to_list="Poster".
>    Add L-no-reply-to to L's subscriber list.
>    Add ^+L-no-reply-to to L.accept_these_nonmembers.
>    Add ^+L to L-no-reply-to.accept_these_nonmembers.
> Now, anyone who doesn't want to get Reply-To headers subscribes to
> L-no-reply-to instead of L. Everyone still posts to L, however, and
> all traffic posted to L appears on both lists. Due to the ^+ options,
> anyone subscribed to either list can post to L and have their posts
> picked up by L-no-reply-to.  (Of course, we could have allowed
> nonsubscribers to post to both lists, but no one on the particular
> list for which I produced these patches wanted to do that, due to spam
> problems.)
Mmmh, that's another way to do what I tried to do I guess. Not very
transparent, but interesting...
> This is obviously a less-than-perfect solution, which is why I'm
> suggesting it be done differently in a future release. I'm willing
> to look into implementing Reply-To as a subscriber option, but
> I may not have time to do so.

Let me save you some time:
The patch doesn't apply as is anymore since it's a year old, but you get
the idea

But then again, this was a year ago, and even if some patch ever makes
it in, it will be years before the next stable mailman comes out, admins
upgrade to it, and this problem eventually goes away :(

"A mouse is a device used to point at the xterm you want to type in" - A.S.R.
Microsoft is to operating systems & security ....
                                      .... what McDonalds is to gourmet cooking
Home page: http://marc.merlins.org/   |   Finger marc_f at merlins.org for PGP key

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