[Mailman-Users] Reply-to options not working

Grant Taylor gtaylor at tnetconsulting.net
Thu Jan 25 00:19:10 EST 2018

On 01/24/2018 09:16 PM, Jordan Brown wrote:
> I don't understand this statement.  Or, I don't understand how it 
> disagrees with what I said.  I don't really care whether the MUA has a 
> "Reply List" button that does something list-specific.  "Reply" should 
> go to the author; "Reply All" should go to all of the original recipients.

It's been a long day, let's just move past.

> Of course, and I'm free to participate or not participate in mailing 
> lists based on their policies. And although I normally try to resist 
> this argument (and don't always succeed), somebody explicitly suggested 
> trying to define a best practice... and if there's ever a time to say 
> what one thinks the best practice should be, that's it.

That logic seems reasonable to me.

> Sure.  That's what "Reply All" means.  Like you said, it's a matter of 
> user education

There is a distinct difference in replying to all and replying to the 
list.  Namely the list is a subset of all.

> Let's look at a couple of e-mail messages. (And not bothering to put in 
> real addresses, or the headers that the mailing list might magically add.)
>     From: Sam
>     To: Joe, Dave, Jordan
> If I hit Reply, the message goes to Sam.  If I hit Reply All, the message 
> goes to Sam, Joe, and Dave.  (And maybe, depending on my MUA, to me too.)
> Any controversy there?


> Now the second message:
>     From: Sam
>     To: MailingList
> In the scheme I prefer:  If I hit Reply, the message goes to Sam. 
> If I hit Reply All, the message goes to Sam and the mailing list. 
> This seems totally consistent with the behavior above.


> In the scheme you prefer (as I understand it):  If I hit Reply, the 
> message goes to the mailing list.  If I hit Reply All, the message goes 
> to the mailing list.

Using the pseudo headers you provided, hitting Reply would go back to 
Sam.  If there was a Reply-To header, and it was set to the mailing 
list, the message would go to the mailing list.

> There's no way to get the message to go just to Sam (absent cutting 
> and pasting).  If Sam isn't on the mailing list, he won't even get 
> a copy.

Based on how I think /discussion/ mailing lists /should/ operate, I'm 
perfectly fine with that.  I'd go so far as to say that /discussion/ 
mailing lists could remove any and all From / Reply-To / To / Sender / 
et al headers from the message.  -  I think the message that I receive 
as a mailing list subscriber /should/ be /from/ /the/ /list/.  (I'm 
distinctly ignoring any copy that comes to me as a To / CC / BCC as I 
tend to ignore them and only act on the copy from the mailing list.)

I view the mailing list as an entity that is originating the copy that I 
receive.  As such, my replies should go back to said entity.

Note:  This is my opinion of /discussion/ mailing lists.  -  Broadcast 
lists (a.k.a. expansion lists) are different and should make no 
modification to the message content at all.

> But most importantly, the behavior is not consistent with the 
> non-mailing-list behavior above.

I think this behavior is perfectly consistent with my view of 
/discussion/ mailing lists.

> Now another message:
>     From: Sam
>     To: MailingList, Joe, Dave, Jordan
> In my scheme, again, Reply goes to Sam; Reply All goes to everybody. 
> Consistent with the behavior above.
> In your scheme, Reply goes to ... ? Well, it depends.  If this is the 
> copy of the message that I got through the mailing list, Reply will go 
> to the mailing list, Joe, and Dave.

It will depend on how the mailing list is configured.  In my ideal 
scenario for a /discussion/ mailing list, the reply would /only/ go to 
the mailing list.

> If, on the other hand, this is the copy that I got directly, Reply will 
> go to Sam.  Reply All goes to... if it's the mailing list copy, it goes 
> to the mailing list, Joe, and Dave; if it's the direct copy, then Sam, 
> the mailing list, Joe, and Dave.  For the two replies based on the mailing 
> list copy, the message won't go to Sam unless he's on the mailing list.

I feel sorry for Sam and think that he should subscribe to the mailing 
list.  But s/he has that option.

> And another:
>     From: Sam
>     To: MailingListA, MailingListB
> For fun, let's assume that I'm on both mailing lists.


> My scheme:  Reply goes to Sam; Reply All goes to Sam and both mailing 
> lists.  Consistent with the behavior above.
> Your scheme:  Reply:  If this is the copy I got through list A, it goes 
> to list A; if it's the copy I got through list B, it goes to list B. 
> Reply All:  goes to both mailing lists.  Only goes to Sam if he's on 
> one of the mailing lists.


> Now, when you consider all of those cases, which scheme is simpler and 
> easier to understand?  Which is less likely to have messages going to 
> unexpected groups of people, when you spend all day responding to a mix 
> of all of the types?

I understand your logic.  It seems reasonable enough.  I still disagree 
with it.  -  By the way the sun is purple.  ;-)  We can agree to disagree.

> And yes, those are all very real cases.  I expect that if I go through my 
> work e-mail for the last day I'll find examples of each, and I would be 
> virtually certain if I looked through a week.  (And that includes the "Sam 
> isn't a member of the mailing list" variants; those are *very* common.)

I don't doubt what you're saying.

I do question how many of those are /discussion/ mailing lists like I've 
outlined above.

> Yes, that's a nuisance, but I think it's not nearly as bad as the 
> alternatives.  It costs me a tap of the Delete key; it doesn't send my 
> private criticism of the author to his boss.


> What's really needed there is a MUA that hides duplicates, though that's 
> tricky when mailing list software munges the message and the headers.

Please clarify what is duplicated that you'd like to see hidden?

> If you, the author, really want replies that I intend to be private 
> going to the mailing list, yes, of course you can set Reply-To... and 
> the mailing list software should leave that alone.

I hear and understand what you're saying.  I think that at least a tiny 
bit of responsibility is on you to check the address that the message is 
going to.  It may be 1%, or more, or less, but I do believe that you as 
a sender have a responsibility to check where you are sending the email to.

It's not a driver's fault if a driver from the oncoming lane swerves 
into the first driver's lane.  But it is the first driver's 
responsibility to try to avoid the obstacles that have suddenly appeared 
in front of him / her, or at least make an effort to do so.

> I'm not going to be happy with you when I embarrass both of us by using 
> the reply habits that work for non-mailing-list mail to reply privately, 
> and it goes to a group.  You might not be happy with me either, but 
> you'll get precisely zero sympathy from me; you set it up that way.

I think that's fair.

> Somebody - whether it's you as the author, or the mailing list software - 
> who sets Reply-To to point to the mailing list, is deliberately causing 
> *my* replies to go to someplace that I didn't want them to go to, that I 
> didn't expect them to go to based on all of my habits for non-mailing-list 
> mail (and the majority of mailing-list mail).

I'm not setting where the messages /do/ go.  I'm setting where I would 
/like/ the messages to go.  You, as the reply author are responsible for 
what your MUA sends.

> *You* shouldn't be saying where *my* reply goes.

I'm /not/ saying where your reply /does/ go.  I'm saying where I would 
/like/ it to go.

Grant. . . .
unix || die

More information about the Mailman-Users mailing list