[Mailman-Users] Subject Lines Wrapped After Commas, (Like This?)

Mark Sapiro msapiro at value.net
Mon May 21 21:03:50 CEST 2007

Mike Ewall wrote:
>I've noticed that on several Mailman lists I'm running, subject lines 
>sometimes get chopped after commas or semicolons.

"Chopped" seems to be the wrong term. Long subjects aren't "chopped";
they are "folded". See sec. 2.2.3 of RFC 2822
<http://www.faqs.org/rfcs/rfc2822.html> for an explanation of this

>This doesn't 
>always happen, though.  It's not just a matter of things being 
>chopped after the 78-or-so chars, either.  Sometimes, it's after a single word.
>Below are examples from a list I run on ethanol issues.  The first 
>batch are examples with commas that came through just fine.  Below it 
>are examples where the subject lines got chopped/wrapped 
>prematurely.  This always happens at commas or semicolons.

This is because the RFC recommends "folding SHOULD be limited to
placing the CRLF at higher-level syntactic breaks" and the folding
process is preferring to fold following a comma or semicolon if

>I'm running Mailman version "2.1.9.cp2" (control panel 2?).

This is a cPanel Mailman. See
I'm not sure if the cPanel behavior is any different from standard
Mailman in this respect. Both will fold long subjects or subjects that
become long as a result of adding the subject_prefix. See below for

>Any guidance on how to stop this inappropriate subject line wrapping 
>would be much appreciated.

It's not inappropriate. It's a standard. The recipient's MUA should be
properly unfolding the folded subject for display.

>Subject: [Ethanol] Unlike U.S.,
>	Canada issues fines for railway ethanol spills

This could have been folded as

Subject: [Ethanol] Unlike U.S., Canada issues fines for railway ethanol

or as

Subject: [Ethanol] Unlike U.S., Canada issues fines for railway
	 ethanol spills

I don't know if you'd like either of these better. I also don't know if
folding at the comma in this case is unique to cPanel or not. In any
case, it is done by the underlying Python email library, and all three
of the above folded subjects should unfold to essentially the same
thing (i.e., the MUA should remove the inserted <cr><lf><tab>)

Mark Sapiro <msapiro at value.net>       The highway is for gamblers,
San Francisco Bay Area, California    better use your sense - B. Dylan

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