[Mailman-Users] Trying to understand charset encoding in mailman

Laura Creighton lac at openend.se
Thu Apr 17 13:19:02 CEST 2014

I am trying to understand how charset encoding works, and I get the
distinct idea that I must be missing one small, vital piece of

Background: The problem arose as follows:

Somebody changed the footer of the EuroPython Mailing list which is hosted
at python.org to be:

EuroPython 2014 \x96 Berlin, 21th\x9627th July

Note the two \x96 s.  The intent was almost certainly to have this string
interpreted by the windows-1252 charset, where \x96 means a en dash.  But
the Europython mailing list is configured so that its messages come out

Content-Type: text/plain; charset="us-ascii"

Since \x96 is an unrecognised character in us-ascii, my mailer complained
bitterly every time I read an EP message.  Being a list admin, this
bothered me, and I thought it would be my job to fix things.

I thought I would change the charset to utf-8.  After all, most European
languages do not fit into "us-ascii" in any event.  What if the conference
had been held in my home town of Göteborg, for instance?

But unless I have overlooked something, there is no way to make a charset
change on a per-list basis through the mailman administrative interface.
Instead you have to edit mm_cfg.py 

Even if I had root access on python.org, I wouldn't really want to inflict
utf-8 on everybody else just because it makes things more convenient for
the EuroPython mailing list.

But needing to edit mm_cfg.py strikes me as a very odd design choice, odd
enough that I figure either a) this isn't so and I have overlooked something,
or b) it absolutely must be done this way for a reason I do not understand.

Can somebody please explain this?

Thank you very much,
Laura Creighton

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