OFFTOPIC Re: [Mailman-Users] Archive URL in postings (2.1b3)

Chuq Von Rospach chuqui at
Tue Oct 29 21:08:28 CET 2002

On Tuesday, October 29, 2002, at 11:35  AM, Jay Sekora wrote:

>> well, To: is who the email is sent to. CC: are other interested
>> parties.
> And who gets to decide that - the actual creator of the content who
> understands what the message is about, or a piece of infrastructure
> software that treats all messages it receives the same way?

Now we start getting into heavy philosophical issues about all this. 
Which means there are likely no "right" answers in an objective sense. 
I say that up front, just in case. I want folks to know I'm not arguing 
"I'm right", but "this is how I think it ought to be". Maybe a minor 
semantical shift, but a key one, IMHO.

> I don't mind the subject-munging that mailman does if the list owner
> adds an identifying tag because that's added to the existing header
> the composer typed; the original information is still there.

OTOH, I *really* hate subject munging. here's why: my research shows 
that the subject line is the A-number-1 determinator of whether a user 
opens a piece of email or not. That's THE key item of information for 
whether it gets deleted out of the summary listing unread or not.

The subject line is ALREADY seriously challenged as an information 
source -- effectively, it's limited to about 50 characters by most mail 
clients, in some cases, that can be as low as 35 characters in some 
mail clients.

So when you tell me that the original author only has 50 characters to 
convince someone to open their piece of email, but you think it's okay 
for the MLM to take 10-15% of that space, and the 10-15% PRIME space at 
the front of the line, to install a flag that already exists elsewhere 
in the headers (list-id, sender, etc), I have problems with that. 
You've effectively kicked the user out of a good chunk of his own space 
advertising why someone should read that message, and stuffed in the 
equivalent of a pop-up ad into that space for the mailing list.

I consider that a horrible tradeoff. I won't go so far as to call it an 
abuse of the subject line, but I think it's really hurting the intent 
of the user, which is to give them the ability to convince someone to 
read that message.

To me, that's a much bigger sin than regularizing how the To and CC are 
presented, because if nothing else, that's an attempt to make it easier 
to use that information without depending on how the original user 
presented it. After all, you're dependin on them doing the to: list, 
CC: you, and while that might be true, it's not guaranteed true. And 
MLMs have played with it as well. This is just a new take on how to 
structure it.

> Do you think it would make sense, on most lists, to *replace* the
> subject with (eg) "Subject: Mail from $sender to $listname on $date"?
> That's the same sort of thing.

No. I argue the opposite, that subject line is one of the headers taht 
I consider MOST untouchable.

> I'm assuming that the person who typed in the message put the list
> address where s/he thought it belonged.  I want to *know* where that
> person thought it belonged.

then why don't you care what the person put in the subject line? 
addresses are -- addresses. The subject line is the author's own 
thought on the piece of email. But it's okay to play with that, but not 
standardize the look of the addresses? To/cc/bcc is really an 
artificial construct in the email world, anyway, a hangover from the 
paper days. The subject line is the author's knock on your front door.

Chuq Von Rospach, Architech
chuqui at --

IMHO: Jargon. Acronym for In My Humble Opinion. Used to flag as an 
something that is clearly from context an opinion to everyone except the
mentally dense. Opinions flagged by IMHO are actually rarely humble. 
     (source: third unabridged dictionary of chuqui-isms).

More information about the Mailman-Users mailing list