[Mailman-Users] Email command upgrade

Stephen J. Turnbull stephen at xemacs.org
Mon Oct 4 10:16:10 CEST 2004

>>>>> "demo" == demo  <macangels at spamcop.net> writes:

    demo> I am not a coder and so cannot help I am afraid but may be
    demo> an upgrade would be to autogenerate an email with a series
    demo> of clickable links that generate emails that work with the
    demo> given addresses.

    demo> ... with unsubscribe *RIGHT* up the top!

Of course mailman and all the other MLMs could do it, as pointed out
by others, but that's broken, evil, nasty, and should be resisted.  :-)

There is a standard way to do this that the MUA (user's mail program)
can and should learn to use: the List-* headers, which contain the
relevant URLs.  For example, in Gnus (the MUA I use), I just type 't',
which exposes all the headers, including clickable links for both mail
and web interfaces to Mailman-Users.  Now, Gnus is intended for
experts, so I get (and want) a lot of "junk" that you probably don't
want, but it would not be hard for a "user-friendly" MUA to hide the
junk.  Or, as an alternative UI, recognize the List-* headers and
provide a "Mailing List" item in the menubar, with Subscribe,
Unsubscribe, Followup, Post, Help, and Visit Archive commands.

Looking at the sources, it turns out that a rather small amount of MUA
code is producing a large number of useful links.  It just looks at
each header, and if it looks like an URL, it makes it a web link.  If
it looks like a Message-ID, it makes it a search in its message DB.
If it looks like a mail address, it makes it clickable to generate a
new mail.  Three regular expressions (text matchers), two of which
already were part of the program, and a half a dozen lines of code per
expression to wrap a link around the matched text.  That's all!

Making it friendlier requires only filtering out some of the links
that aren't normally useful, or providing options to display only an
interesting subset, or adding special cases (eg, Gnus does somewhat
different things depending on whether the address is the author, the
mailing list, or another recipient).  Also, because this is done by my
MUA, I can easily customize it locally, with _much_ more flexibility
than Mailman could afford to provide.  It's not rocket science, and
the payoff is large.

The only disadvantage to this approach is that it requires cooperation
from the large MUA vendors like Microsoft and Qualcomm, and the users
know they're far more likely to get sympathy and timely action, at no
cost in money or effort to them, from their listmasters.  So that's who
gets an earful.  :-(

Institute of Policy and Planning Sciences     http://turnbull.sk.tsukuba.ac.jp
University of Tsukuba                    Tennodai 1-1-1 Tsukuba 305-8573 JAPAN
               Ask not how you can "do" free software business;
              ask what your business can "do for" free software.

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