[OSM-talk] no replay-to header at talk

Ulf Lamping ulf.lamping at web.de
Tue Jul 10 23:57:01 BST 2007

Matthew Newton schrieb:
> Hi,
> On Tue, Jul 10, 2007 at 02:00:10PM +0200, Raphael Studer wrote:
>> I've noticed that on the talk at osm there is no replay-to field in the
>> header, if an email is sent to the list.
>> On the german list (talk-de at osm) there is such a field.
>> I would be happy if it could be added on the talk list also.
> This request surfaces every now and then and, 
Well, I work with mailing list of both using "reply-to" and not doing so 
(I'll call it "hard-core") for many years now.

Interestingly, while reading this request repeatingly at the hard-core 
lists, I *never* have read even a single request to switch off 
"reply-to" on *any list* I'm reading for years now. So the interest in 
"reply-to" to be switched on seems to be much more tempting than to 
switch it off once it is used.

While this of course is not "hard evidence", one should at least see 
this as good reason to think about this topic in a different light.
> sorry, no, it's not
> going to change. There are several reasons, not including that many
> people on the list don't want it changed; someone has already
> pointed to a good document listing most of them.
Sorry to say, but this document is mostly garbage!

"Minimal Mungling": True, but only in principle. It seems, that a good 
amount of mailing lists can handle this without any problems for years 
now. So there's no rocket science to bring this feature to life. At some 
time in the past even attaching anything to mails was vodoo, so should 
we still avoid any mail attachments because they complicate the mails? 
And believe me, I've read a lot of the corresponding RFC's about 
attachments, this isn't really simple stuff.

"It adds nothing": Simply untrue. It adds a feature that many users 
simply seem to expect - pressing reply will send a mail to where they'll 
expect it to. And as I subscribed to a mailing list, replying to mails 
I've received from it will get back to this list and nothing else.

"Freedom of choice": Utterly untrue. The sentence should be: "All 
responses as default should go to where the user expect it to go to.". 
Again, there seems that most users expecting it to go back to the ML and 
*not* to the originator - by default.

"Coddling the Brain-Dead, Penalizing the Conscientious": Yes, 95% of the 
internet users are simply using the wrong software. If the linux/unix 
community keeps this elitist attitude, Microsoft will keep it's over 90% 
market share still in centuries. Sorry to say, but it's just that simple 
Interestingly, a few lines later he admits, that he stopped using 
"reply-to" mungling after sending a private mail to one of his public 
lists. And that one calls other people "brain-dead" as they use the 
wrong mail clients - well, I find this attitute interesting.

"Yes, on occasion somebody mistakenly responds directly to the author of 
a message when they wanted to reply to the group"
Well, I do it occasionally, still after years. And when I send a request 
to the list, I'll sometimes even get more direct replies than through 
the list server - obviously not intended as there was no "private" 
content. Seems I'm not the only one making this mistake "occasionally" ...

The sentence I've found most interesting was: "I contribute to the Elm 
mailer development team". Yes, even the start to use GUI's was basically 
the wrong step. The whole document reminds me of Douglas Adams: "some 
even regard that leaving the trees was the first wrong step" (roughly 
> Two things to think about:
>   The list changing the Reply-to header messes things up for users
>   who specifically set a reply-to in their own mail because they
>   want replies to go to a different address. Reply-to is an
>   Originator Field as specified by RFC2822, and as such should not be
>   touched by intermediate systems.
Some notes:
- how many users actually uses the "reply-to" while sending their own 
mails as described in RFC2822? I guess only very few - and will it be 
essential if they cannot do so?
- I guess a vote would result in a 0.001% (actually using "reply-to") 
vs. 90% (sending their mail unexpectedly at least sometimes only to the 
originator) :-)))
>   Your mail client* should have (at least) two options: "reply" and
>   "reply to all". It may even have "reply to list". If it doesn't
>   have these then get a new mail client. ;-
Yes, I know, I don't have the right mail client. I should learn emacs 
and elm and forget about any GUI interface and these other strange stuff 
invented in the last 20 years.

Sorry to be ranting loudly, but this all seems way too much elitist talk 
to me.

While being a software engineer myself, I pretty much understand the 
technical background and as such, I can understand your point of view - 
while I'm not sharing it. Again it's basically the old  question wether 
to be helpful to the loudly yelling geeks, or to the majority of quiet 
"normal" users who only understand half of what's being said ...

Keep in mind that we're talking about average computer *users*, not the 
unix geek who tends to maintain three servers at home ...

Regards, ULFL

More information about the talk mailing list