[Mailman-Users] Reply to list

Thomas Hochstein ml at ancalagon.inka.de
Thu Feb 5 10:44:33 CET 2004

Mark Dadgar schrieb:

>> <http://www.unicom.com/pw/reply-to-harmful.html>
> This is totally ridiculous.

Is it?

> The document you reference is a long attempt at rationalizing why we 
> shouldn't bother to try to make mail systems Do The Right Thing.

The question is: *is* it the right thing?

On mailing lists with reply-to set to the list, I see quite often
replies that were obviously meant to go to the poster, not to the
list, sometimes very ... private mails. That is *not* the right thing.

Sometimes I have a fixed From:-Address (from which I have to send mail
and that I cannot change), e.g. at work, but want answers sent to
another address (e.g. my home address). So I set reply-to to my
private address. If the MLA overwrites Reply-To:, I get private
replies to my work address, which is not the thing I want nor the
right thing.

I like to read my mailing lists gated to a local newsgroup or with a
clienbt that has a GUI that makes no real difference between mails,
amiling list and newsgroups, so I can followup/reply to all (the list)
with one keypress and reply privately to the author with another,
without changing addresses or even c&p'ing. That's nice, it's
comfortable, and it's broken if Reply-To: is set to the list. That
obviously is not the right thing either.

> The tool should fit the job and not the other way around.

The tool should do the job *I* want it to do, not the job someone
thinks most in my position would like it to do.

It's mostly the same, alway: if you try to make things "easier", you
do not add functionality, you *break* functionality. That may not
matter to people that cannot or would not use that functionality, it
may even really make things easier for them, but it is a step back,
not a step forward, because it makes things worse for advanced users.

That said, I *do* set Reply-To: to the list on lists where a majority
of people requested this setting, or on list with low traffic or a
majority of computer illiterate users. Not because that's the "right
thing" - it obviously isn't -, but because there's nobody there that
needs advanced features of any kind, and the people that don't know or
don't want to know how to use them may get alog better with a fixed
"standard" setting.

But personally, I do strongly prefer a list that does no reply-to
munging, and on lists that are frequented by people who *know* how to
use their computer and their tools [1] I'd never switch from the

[1] That does not necessarily mean "IT guys". You don't have to be an
IT guy (and I am not) to learn hwo to use your computer as an
efficient tool.


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