[Mailman-Users] Wrap messages in HTML ??

Amanda arandall at auntminnie.com
Mon Oct 8 22:11:48 CEST 2001

There's a reason system administrators have a legendary antipathy for their respective sales and/or marketing departments. Perhaps it's that most (granted, not all) system administrators grasp the difference between what *can* be done and what *should* be done... but all
too often have the "can" rammed down their throats even when it doesn't make any sense... oh yeah, and make it work, or else. Hence one of the (many) reasons most sysadmins have frequent shopper cards for things like Maalox and Tylenol. :-)

I'm going to ignore the "should" for the moment, as that's an issue you'll obviously have to wrestle out and settle in your own mind. There are appropriate times and places to use HTML-based mail - in our case, the people who've specifically requested the newsletter and
specifically requested it in HTML format - and it's perfectly okay to include advertisements with restraint and taste (after all, that's my paycheck!).

At the level which I've considered the question (which is to say, not *too* thoroughly) my impression is that there are several ways you could do this. Most of what's coming up in my head are things that are going to involve masticating the message before it gets to
mailman, however, and is probably going to require the time and energy of a moderately skilled scripter, who can write something that will twiddle the message at X point before going to the list. Part of that solution may depend on how you want mail to get to the list: Is
it announce-only? If not, things may get a little hairy. If so, who ultimately sends the message, and from where? Will the author send you something you can parse on a unix/linux machine which you then will distribute to the list at the right time? Or is this something
that needs to be "idiotproof," that a sales person can just send something somewhere, and it will automagically get crunched and sent out to the list? A moderately knowledgeable scripter can write a simple but effective tool to be used by one (or a few) moderately
knowledgeable person(s) with a relatively low investment of time. If it's going to be more widespread, more automatic, or used by more novice users ... well, expect a much higher investment in time.

If it helps your argument, I can estimate that (in our case) approximately 15% of users can't read HTML-based mail at all, and another 10% of them don't have fully HTML-compatible mail clients, which means that part of the formatting shows up and part gets eaten. You may
have to remind them of the rule about pissing off the few... a dissatisfied customer will make ten times the noise of a happy one, and mostly in the direction of their friends and associates. We were able to make that 15-25% happy by offering the choice of a text-only
newsletter, with URLs to articles which they can copy and paste into a browser window if they wish to see the bells and whistles. It's extra production time, of course, but it's well worth it in our particular instance.

::get a good Perl book::

Jim Kutter wrote:

> I know this one is real icky, but does anyone know if it's possible to wrap messages in HTML? (Sales folks want all postings to get wrapped in HTML with adverts), or would I have to alter the code? or is this not only very bad netiquette but just a plain old bad idea?
> Thanks
> -jim
> ------------------------------------------------------
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