[Mailman-Users] Smart quotes are not properly encoded in mbox

Mark Sapiro mark at msapiro.net
Sun Dec 11 11:50:51 EST 2016

On 12/11/2016 07:03 AM, Kim, DongInn wrote:
> Is there a way to display/keep smart quotes (for example ‘Apple’ and “Banana”) properly in mailing list’s  mbox?
> It seems that the smart quotes at the example above are saved with uni-hex code.
>> =E2=80=98Apple=E2=80=99
>> =E2=80=9CBanana=E2=80=9D


Internet email standards require that for reliable transmission the
content of messages must consist of only 7-bit ascii characters. Thus,
headers, message body parts, etc. containing non-ascii characters must
be encoded for transmission. The encoding is either quoted-printable or

What you are seeing is a quoted-printable encoding of the UTF-8 encoding
of these characters. This is either in a body part whose
Content-Transfer-Encoding: is quoted-printable or an RFC2047
quoted-printable encoded word in a header.

> The received email from the mailing list do not have this kind of issue though.

Because the MUA viewing the mail knows how to decode it for display. If
you look at the raw message text, it will be the same.

The list's archives/private/listname.mbox/listname.mbox file contains
the raw messages as sent.

Why do you care? If you are using tools like grep to search the
cumulative mbox or the periodic .txt files in the archive, there are
more serious issues because many things will be base64 encoded which is
not human readable at all.

For more information, see RFC's 5321, 5322, 2045 and 2047 at

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

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