[nSLUG] Please do not use Reply for new topics

Jack Warkentin jwark at eastlink.ca
Fri Oct 9 17:37:30 ADT 2009

Hi Everybody

I hope the people on this list won't castigate me for hitting the 
"reply" button ...

Daniel Morrison wrote:
> All I wanted to say was this:
> - people routinely start new messages by replying to old ones
> - the software is here to serve people
> - therefore, it is the software that is wrong, not the people
> Now, there are some areas in which it is impossible to "just change
> the software". Obviously no simple change can make the problem of a 25
> MB attachment sent out by the front office to 500 people just
> "disappear", so instead we have to lobby people to change what they're
> doing by instead putting the file on a web page and sending out a URL.

If every recipient of the message with the URL actually viewed the 25MB 
document, the bandwidth would be the same as sending it as an 
attachment. The attachment has the advantage that *nobody* can deny 
having received it (modulo the reliability of the email service).

However, I agree that sometimes it is necessary to get people to change 
their behaviour.

> But in the threading case, it's clearly possible to create a highly
> successful threading system based on both the References and the
> Subject, and that's what Google is doing. RFC 822 is 25 years old. It
> is:
> - dated and possibly obsolete
> - a request for comment. My comment is: we need a new system

I disagree. We have a system that works very well. What we need is for 
more people to understand it. I have used email for 15 years now (25+ if 
you count the internal COCOS system developed by BNR) but this is the 
first I have heard about how threads are managed by the Internet email 
system. Now that I know how threads work I will change my behaviour so 
as to live harmoniously within the system.

> Whether that new system is to ignore the RFC and proceed like Gmail
> does, or write a new RFC so that email clients give more control to
> the user (instead of less), I don't know. I feel that at least I am
> throwing out ideas and generating discussion, while most of the
> replies have been getting are of the tone that I should not be
> questioning the authority of the RFCs. This disturbs me.

I am definitely *not* an advocate of always supporting the status quo 
and I hope you will not be disturbed by my position on this topic.

*But* - and this is a very big "but" - back to the original topic. If 
you want to start a new "conversation" to *all* of the recipients of the 
received message, there could be a lot of copying and pasting of names 
and addresses involved. It is just so much easier to hit "reply all" and 
change the subject line.

So ...  It is not the Internet email system that needs adjusting, it is 
the email *clients* that people use. A button that provides the 
functionality "start new thread to sender and all on the cc list" is 
what is needed.



Jack Warkentin, phone 902-404-0457, email jwark at eastlink.ca
39 Inverness Avenue, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, B3P 1X6

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