[Tutor] Replying to the tutor-list

Alan Gauld alan.gauld at btinternet.com
Fri Feb 16 11:06:57 CET 2007

"Luke Paireepinart" <rabidpoobear at gmail.com> wrote

> It's not the inconvenience but the fact that it's nonstandard, as 
> far as
> every mailing list i've been on except this.

It is interesting to see this thread because its a hot button of mine
that many new mailing lists implement this non standard behaviour
- ie send replies to the list!

But its obvious there are two views at work here.

I see the standard behaviour of Reply as - It only ever sends
to one person. Thus if I use Reply I know, with absolute certainty,
that I will never, ever, be sending private views to anyone other than
the intended recipient. Now when a mailing list subverts that it
completely blows that contract out of the water. It means I have
to be much, much, more careful about checking what I send and
to whom. When dealing with 300+ emails per day, only a small
number of which are from lists, that's a major pain.

The other view is that Reply should send the mail to whatever the
original source of the message was whether it be a list, newsgroup,
forum or whatever. (But in that view what is the purpose of
ReplyALL - why is it there?) Particularly since doing it this way
actually loses the natural ability of the mail tool to send to an

> I didn't get the e-mail from you.  You posted the e-mail to the list 
> and
> i received it because I'm a member of the list.

But you didn't really get it from the list either. The list server 
occasionally send emails - bounces, errors, reminders etc - but
really it forwards mails from an originator. You do get mails from
me, not the list server. The list server is no different to your 
SMTP relay. It simply forwards the mails I send, it is a mechanism
to replace everyone having to maintain their own copy of a very
large distribution list. But when I send a mail to tutor my mental
model is that the tutor addrsss is just a large distribution list.

As to standard list behaviour, I don't know of any list thats been
around for more than say 10 years that uses Reply to send to All.
This seems to be a very recent thing. (And most of the lists I am
on have been around for much more than 10 years! :-)

> The list is the sender.  It aggregates posts to me.

If you subscribe to the digest this is true, but you should never
reply to the digest! The individiual mails inside the digest are
all sent from the individual posters.

> When I reply it should put my post in the same thread,
> one level below and immediately after the previous person's
> post

Sorry, we are talking about a mailing list here, not a newsgroup
or forum. Mail doesn't naturally support threading, many mail
clients don't do it at all. Others simply sort by subject/date.
Threading of email is always a bit arbitrary and error prone in
my exprience. The concept is there but the implementation
is nearly always dependant on the client (from gmane to Outlook...).

> It has retrained me to use reply-all, but I still don't like it.
> Also you end up CCing copies of your e-mails to everyone.
>> http://www.unicom.com/pw/reply-to-harmful.html

That's a plus in my book because I use the digest (or gmane
newsgroup) so it keeps me in real-time sync with the threads
I'm actively involved with but leaves the others for batch mode


Alan G.
Vive la difference! 

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