[nSLUG] Please do not use Reply for new topics

odoepner odoepner at gmail.com
Fri Oct 9 12:51:37 ADT 2009

Hi Daniel,

This is the reference information: 
http://tools.ietf.org/html/rfc2822#section-3.6.4 Internet Engineering Task
Force, RFC 2822 ("Internet Message Format"), section 3.6.4 

The standard basically says that Message IDs are used to express the
"parent-child" relationship between emails that constitute the tree
structure that is commonly called "threads".

The text of the subject line(s) is a less reliable way of "guessing" that
emails belong to the same "conversation". Gmail seems to use a kind of
"smart guessing" in addition to the Message IDs.


Daniel Morrison-2 wrote:
> Hello,
> Can you explain why this happens? I mean, it sounds like a bug. Gmail
> certainly doesn't have trouble threading messges properly.
> Is there a message ID that is preserved by all mail clients when
> replying to a message, and which other mail clients/the archiving
> software uses to thread, in preference to the subject? Some invention
> that was intended to "make life easier" by allowing threads to
> continue over subject changes, but which is instead now imposing more
> rules on members?
> Sorry if I'm coming across a bit blunt -- I really want to learn how
> this works. I noticed in a mailman list archive that I maintain that
> some messages seemed to be children of unrelated "parent" messages,
> and would like to learn why this happens. Also, because I quite
> regularly just reply to a message and change the subject (not so much
> for NSLUG, but in my everyday email), as I was under the impression
> that it was equivalent to starting an entirely new message, but
> without needing to type in the To: addresses once again.
> If there's some specific documentation on this, feel free to just
> point me to it.
> Thanks,
> -D.
> 2009/10/9 odoepner <odoepner at gmail.com>:
>> Hello,
>> I noticed that people often start new topics by "replying" to an
>> unrelated
>> email from NSLUG and editing the subject line. This messes up threads.
>> The
>> emails regarding the new topic will show up within the (unrelated) thread
>> of
>> the email that the poster used to "conveniently" replied to.
>> You may not notice this if you don't use a threaded view in your email
>> client. But many email clients (e.g. Thunderbird, pine, mutt, Sylpheed)
>> offer this useful feature.
>> And the online "forum" style view of the NSLUG maling list at
>> http://www.nabble.com/nSLUG-f21235.html
>> http://www.nabble.com/nSLUG-f21235.html  uses a threaded view, too.
>> Please compose a new email to "nslug at nslug.ns.ca" when you start a new
>> topic
>> / thread and use reply only to actually reply to an existing discussion.
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Oliver Doepner
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