[Mailman-Developers] Advanced Reply-To-Munging

Sven Anderson sven at anderson.de
Wed Mar 14 16:51:44 CET 2007

Hi Stephen,

thank you for reading and commenting my proposal.

Stephen J. Turnbull, 11.03.2007 19:34:
> Sven Anderson writes:
>  > There is no RFC-way to set the default address for replies.
> Of course there is.  For authors, it's Reply-To.  For lists, it's
> List-Post.

No, it's not. What I was referring here as the "default address" (and I
hoped this was clear) was the address, which is used by the normal reply
button/function of the MUA. There is no way to define a default adressee
for that function, it is always hardwired to the From header, which can be
overridden by a Reply-To header. That's something different, as the
Reply-To overrides the From for _any_ reply function, that is also the
reply-to-all function for instance. There is no RFC way to replace the
>From address only in the "normal" reply, but not in any other reply functions.

> The fact that the MUAs used by the mob don't offer other choices is a
> completely different issue.

You complained, that I don't care what my users want, and at the same time
you call them "mob"? ;-)

>  > ad 2) If Reply-To is already set, it is removed.
> That's definitely a violation of the RFC.  The author has explicitly
> requested delivery of responses to that address, and this proposal
> prevents it from working correctly.

I don't agree. Reply-To tells, which address you should use _if_ you want
to contact that user. Reply-To is not meant to force you to _whom_ you
want to reply to. That's why my proposal replaces the From by an
author-set Reply-To whenever it is used.

> Reply-To, like the other headers, accepts multiple addresses.  The
> list's address should be added in this case, and users who bitch
> should be told that it's required by "the rules" since it was already
> present.

Which rule? A list processor is not an MTA. And don't forget, we are
talking about an _option_. List admins, who want to treat their users like
this, don't have to (and won't) switch on reply-to-munging.

>  > The old Reply-To or - if not existing - the From address is checked
>  > if it is a list member. If not, it is added as a "fake Cc" to the
>  > Cc header, in order to make the reply-to-all function work.
> This is insufficient.  Somebody who actually sets Reply-To to an
> address that's on the list in a post to the list clearly Really Means
> It.  It's not my place to explain why; you should ask *them*.
> Your assumption is that such users don't exist on the list in
> question, at least not in numbers large enough to matter.  Why not let
> them have their way?

A user sending a mail to a list processor cannot expect, that his headers
will be kept in any case. A list processor is munging anyway in many
aspects. The only clean solution here (also in respect to digital
signatures for instance) would be to nest the complete email including
headers into a new email. Then you have to levels of headers, and
everything is kept.

I think the interests of the users to have a mailing list, which behaves
like they think it's the most practical way, outweigh the interest of
single users, who are not happy, that their Reply-To is touched. And I
bet, that the latter is not true for most users, who set the Reply-To, as
my proposal regards their Reply-To in the way it is usually meant.

And again, it's an option. Let the list admins choose.

>  > Of course, with option 2-4 you still lose the reply-to-author function, but 
>  > at least for 2 and 4 in exchange for a new function, which a standard MUA 
>  > with just a reply and reply-to-all button doesn't offer.
> It's not a new function, it's a new bug.  Much of the specification
> for MUAs is in RFC 2822, including the use of the Reply-To function.
> Your proposal prevents conforming MUAs from performing the function
> that their users ask of them.

No. The users didn't ask for "if the receiving users presses 'Reply', the
mail should go to whatever I put into Reply-To". They ask: "If you want to
reach me, don't use the From address, use the Reply-To instead." And this
is done by my proposal.

>  > author, what at the moment doesn't work). We want the default going to the 
>  > list, not only because of our MUAs (Thunderbird, Mutt, Webmailer) only Mutt 
>  > supports reply-to-list, but also because we want the default reply to be the 
>  > least dangerous, which in our case is the list. Funnily enough, the mutt 
>  > user wants the most, that the normal reply is going to the list. ;-)
> This is a valid use case, but not for Mailman as currently designed.
> What you want is customer relations management software.  If you
> really want this, then you can write a custom handler for it.  It
> should not be provided with software intended for general use in
> discussion lists on the Internet IMO.

I don't get the point in referring to another software, while Mailman
offers 95% of what that use case needs and is installed already. All these
fuzzy classifications like CRM shouldn't prevent a software to cross the
border, if it easily can do.



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