[Mailman-Users] Reply-to options not working

Jordan Brown mailman at jordan.maileater.net
Tue Feb 6 14:02:02 EST 2018

[ This was getting pretty long and a bit repetitive, so I trimmed it
brutally.  It's still pretty long, sigh. ]

On 2/6/2018 2:09 AM, Stephen J. Turnbull wrote:
>  > But:  in my work contexts, it is quite common for a discussion to span
>  > two teams.  Again, a "reply" that goes to the List-Post address (versus
>  > All) won't do the right thing.  Normal "Reply All" does the right
>  > thing.
> OK.  I'm assuming that each team has its own list, only one List-Post
> is present, so you need Reply-All even for list posts, right?

Our mailing list software doesn't add List-Post, so yes, no other
variation does anything like the right thing.

For discussion purposes, I'm assuming that you would consider that to be
a misconfigured mailing list, and so I'm discussing how things would
work if it *did* include List-Post.  I shudder to imagine a world where
both kinds of mailing lists (with and without List-Post) are considered
correct, and you'd have to know which kind of mailing list each was to
know how your Reply button would work.

>  > Normal "Reply" does the right thing (assuming non-munged
>  > Reply-To).
> Reply-To munging is precisely the issue this is intended to address.
> Munged lists *have* caught me (although actually sending a message
> misaddressed to list is extremely rare).  I think the difference is
> that when I use "smart reply" I have implicitly requested that it go
> to the list.  If I really want to reply to author (which is not that
> rare), I do use Reply-Author, and find it natural.  (I'm not saying
> you would.)

I think I might finally understand some of the disconnect.

When you say "smart reply", what I hear is that it's a replacement for
the Reply button.  If it's a replacement for the Reply button, the
button you use to reply just to the author in all *other* contexts, then
it will naturally lead you into sending your private message to the world.

But it seems that you're really intending it as a replacement for the
Reply All button, a multicast reply that tries to figure out what the
exactly right address is to reply to.

Do you just never have three-way conversations with specific people?  Or
do you have to mentally split replies into three kinds:  just back to
the author, to a mailing list, or to an ad-hoc group?

My mental rule is really simple:  if I want to reply to the author, I
hit Reply; if I want to reply to everybody in the conversation I hit
Reply All.  Every once in a while I need to spin off a subset or add
somebody, and then I do one of the above and edit the list.

Do you have all three buttons (Reply, Smart-Reply, Reply-All)?

If you have a message from Joe, To you, CC Sam, and you want to reply to
both Joe and Sam, what button do you use?  If you just want to reply to
Joe, what button do you use?

>  > than Reply or Reply All, as appropriate.  (If you're interested, I'll
>  > see if I can do an analysis of my message traffic to see how often it
>  > would do something that I would consider to be clearly wrong and how
>  > often it would be an improvement.)
> I would be interested in that.  I expect that you'll find a pretty
> high ratio of wrong to right.  But if it came out anywhere near even,
> it would be a pretty strong indication in favor of writing an RFC.  I
> don't expect that to be enough to interest you in changing (there
> would be muscle memory costs, etc).
> I would appreciate it if you would *not* count "omitting the author of
> a list post from the reply" as "wrong" for this purpose because I don't
> think my target audience for "smart reply" would count it as wrong.

I'll see what I can do.  The hard part will be determining whether
people on the To/CC list are on the mailing list.
[ After an experiment... ] Yeah, the SMTP server doesn't implement EXPN,
making that hard to automate.  Still, I'll see what I can do by hand.

>  > One might say that different behaviors are appropriate for
>  > different fora, and that wouldn't be totally wrong, but remembering
>  > that different fora will behave differently requires effort, and
>  > since Reply/Reply-All do the right thing in *every* fora, why would
>  > I want to spend that effort (and take the risk of mixing it up)?
> Well, I did it because I'm (intermittently) on a crusade to eliminate
> Reply-To munging.  (Just so you know there is *some* method to this
> madness.)  I realize that's a very specialized motivation. ;-)

Oh, I'm on a crusade to eliminate Reply-To munging too.  I'm just
nervous about doing it by pushing a UI idiom that has a very similar
effect, especially spinning it as the "does what you really want" answer.

> I also disagree that Reply-All does the right thing in the subscribe-
> to-post discussion lists I participate in.  Sure, I can go back and
> edit out all but the person I'm replying to, but even I don't always
> do that, and most people *never* do.  YMMV, of course.

And the harm is that people get duplicate copies of messages in threads
they've participated in.  Seems pretty minimal.  Nobody got dropped from
the conversation, and nobody's intended-to-be-private message got
broadcast to the world, and those seem like much more serious failures.

>  > And even T-bird is not immune to the "remove features to simplify
>  > things" disease.
> To be frank, I was a little shocked by the T-bird story.  "What *were*
> they thinking?!"

Which T-bird story are we talking about?

The "automatically ignore Reply-To if it looks like it's the result of
Reply-To munging" feature?  It's awful and it's ugly and ... it seems to
do exactly what I want, in an imperfect world where people configure
their mailing lists to try to trick me into embarrassing myself.

Here's an interesting tidbit.  I don't know why it's happening, but the
*only* copy I get of your messages is the one that went directly, so it
doesn't have List-Post.  (Maybe this is the MailMan no-dups feature in
action.)  So it seems like your "Smart Reply" wouldn't work right on
this mailing list, at least as it arrives at my mailbox.

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