[Mailman-Developers] Re: double dash or single dash to commence signatures?

Mark A. Mandel mamandel at ldc.upenn.edu
Wed Apr 14 13:56:21 EDT 2004

#From: Phil Barnett <philb at philb.us>
#On Tuesday 13 April 2004 6:55 am, John.Airey at rnib.org.uk wrote:
#> I have noticed that mailman uses a double dash to end message commands. I
#> was under the impression that a dash followed by a space (which we
#> currently have in our disclaimer) was correct. This certainly works with
#> majordomo, which is what we used to use until I became tired of the
#> enormous amount of administration that it took just to set up one list.
#> Does anyone on this list know which RFC states which is the correct one?
#> If of course both are valid would you be able to patch mailman to allow
#> "end","--" and "- "?
#The correct signature separator is (as below)
#Don't know if it was ever an RFC, but it does descend from usenet.

Part of this confusion may be due to the fact that there is no such
character as "dash" in ASCII. '-' is a minus sign or hyphen.
http://www.w3.org/MarkUp/html3/latin1.html) English punctuation has at
least three characters that look more or less like that. Editors argue
back and forth over whether the en dash and the em dash are both needed,
but at least the em dash -- or just dash, for short -- is logically very
different from the hyphen.

Hyphens link words, as in "state-of-the-art interface", or parts of
words, as in
                           could cause a con-
    stitutional crisis

Dashes separate parts of sentences, as in the end of the paragraph
before last.

Rendering a dash in ASCII, descended from doing so on a typewriter, is
best done with two hyphens, preferably with a space after and possibly
before as well. If somebody saw "-- " and described it as "dash-space",
and someone else implemented that description as "- ", we'd wind up with
what we have.

#"The choices we make dictate the life we lead. To thine ownself be true." --
#William Shakespeare

"This above all: to thine own self be true,
 And it must follow, as the night the day,
 Thou canst not then be false to any man."
   William Shakespeare, Hamlet, Act I, scene 3.

"The choices we make dictate the life we lead."
   116 hits on Google, many of them linked with the above six words of
Shakespeare (written as five).

"Never argue with a pedant over nomenclature. It wastes your time and
annoys the pedant."
   Lois McMaster Bujold, _Memory_

-- Dr. Whom, Consulting Linguist, Grammarian,
   Orthoepist, & Philological Busybody
   a.k.a. Mark A. Mandel

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