[Mailman-Developers] [Bug 985149] Add List-Post value to permalink hash input

Stephen J. Turnbull stephen at xemacs.org
Mon Apr 23 07:33:52 CEST 2012

On Mon, Apr 23, 2012 at 7:31 AM, Jeff Breidenbach <jeff at jab.org> wrote:

> I find List-Id annoying because I like the world to be simple and easy to
> understand.

What are you doing hanging out in e-mail circles, then? ;-)  It has to
be the most prominent example of a computing field where smtplicity
has led to a disaster, and it has never been easy to understand!

> People who know nothing about RFCs natually consider the
> posting address to be the canonical name of a mailing list.

Sure, and people who know nothing about modern physics naturally
consider space to be flat.  They're quite happy to use GPS devices
whose accuracy to within kilometers (let alone the few meters actually
achieved) depends on general relativity and calculations involving the
curvature of space, though.

> We should be embracing that.

Why?  Just because people who will never actually have to deal with
the problems created by lists that change their identities mid-stream
find it natural?

> Instead, RFC2369 introduces this entire alternate namespace
> with List-Id, competing for attention, with its own weird rules like the
> domain-control one quoted earlier in its thread.

I don't see any competition, to be honest.  List-Id is nice for
mechanically managing continuity, and the list's mailbox (*not* the
List-Post URL, which is less stable than the mailbox IME) is what most
humans use to name it.  Different use cases, different methods.

And there's nothing weird about that rule.  It's actually the same
rule that we use to identify users in many situations: control over a
name (for individuals, implemented as the ability to read mail at a
specific address).  Both give the user a public, Internet-wide unique
ID, which can be used as a component of UUIDs for other resources the
user controls.

> Is it really such a disaster for a list to be considered different if it hops to a new
> domain?

Disaster, no.  Pain in the ass for the administrator and users?  Yes,
in my experience.  The lists I administer have archives going back to
1996, at least, and two years ago we scoured the whole history for
hints to where certain former members might be found.  There were a
couple of historical cases where lists changed names, and since the
archives were organized by posting address, the people who were trying
to follow threads had problems picking them up (since many of them
weren't around to know the history).  That took up my time which could
have been put to better use.

> I don't think so, or there would be a lot more clamoring for
> editable List-Id in mailman.

Why would anyone want to edit List-Id?  It's not really for human
consumption!  I find it hard to believe that many people would want
anything but the original posting address with a dot substituted for
the @-sign as a List-Id.

> Archival services certainly don't need it.

Maybe yours doesn't.  I have several lists whose purposes have evolved
over time, and they haven't changed names and posting address to match
only because that would break threads in the archives.

I also subscribe to one list whose posting address has changed a
couple of times because of domain changes, but my own mail filters
just kept working because they were based on List-Id, not List-Post.
Since the archive host's domain also changed, everybody had to change
their bookmarks anyway, but if it's not necessary it would be nice to
be able to keep them.

> It smells like design by committee where everyone's pet feature
> for a rare use case gets added in, without appreciating the benefits
> of small and simple and less-stuff-is-better.

I dunno.  It seems to me that a lot of the lists where the users and
admins would not care about flexibility, machine-friendliness, and
continuity are also good candidates for moving to web forums in any
case.  (Yeah, I know that Barry wants to kill web forums; but if so,
those users are going to have to coexist with mine!)

In sum, while I only know my small corner of the world, I've had
several experiences where List-Id has been (or would have been) quite
useful, and I really don't understand yet why it's problematic for you
(except that for you it's a YAGNI, so you could have a somewhat
simpler life if it would go away).

> Regarding hashes, the whole point of a archival hash is to make a shorter,
> human friendly URL.

I don't find hashes (or most message IDs) to be human-friendly[1] at
all, and (if it's not going to be a tinyurl) I really only want the
line containing the URL to be less than 78 characters so I can be
pretty sure nothing is going to try to insert a linebreak.  I guess
we're just going to have to agree to disagree on a lot of things. ;-)

Bottom line: I don't have a problem with you having your preferences,
and if you "win" I can work around it, but I do have multiple use
cases for List-Id != List-Post that I raise for consideration by the

[1] FVO "human" that includes a larger population than "geeks like
me"!  My MUA is set to display Message-Id and References by default!

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