[nSLUG] Please do not use Reply for new topics

Daniel Morrison draker at gmail.com
Fri Oct 9 19:10:33 ADT 2009

2009/10/9 Joshua B. <juggins at gmail.com>:
> Please, if anyone here uses gmail and can understand or imagine the
> usefulness of proper (RFC 2822) style threading - at least as an
> option - suggest it to google here:

Um, no? Because IMO (as I've explained in this thread) Google has it
right and RFC 822 is wrong?

OK, I am open to alternate opinions, but...

> So I consider myself
> stuck with them but I am extremely unhappy with this one feature.  I
> still have not given up hope they will change.

What is it that bothers you so much? Can you give an example of the
problem you have?

The only thing I've understood from the discussion so far is that:

- with Gmail, if the subject line of reply changes, a new thread is
started. This is good if a user is mindlessly just 'replying' to a
message, but starting new topic, and less than optimal if the email is
sent to a mailing list AND the subject has been updated due to
conversation drift

- with RFC 2822 compliant threading systems, if the subject line of a
reply changes, it continues to thread. This is good if the email is
sent to a mailing list AND the subject has been updated due to
conversation drift, but bad if a user is just mindlessly just
'replying' to a message, but starting a new topic.

I believe that if you keep in mind that:
- email and your inbox is NOT usenet or a forum, so threading is
better applied to personal messages than group forums, and
- since it's YOUR mailbox, you have the choice of email client to use,
to suit your threading style
- starting a new thread when the subject changes is relatively rare,
and not really very bothersome, while
- "losing" the start of a new thread because it was tacked onto an old
thread due to typical human laziness is quite an annoying "lack of a

it seems to me to make a lot of sense to behave the way Google is behaving.

I would totally support the addition of an option, to allow users who
preferred the other style to switch... but given that Gmail's
"conversations" (as they call their threads) is a major part of
Gmail's attraction for users, I doubt they will be interested in
changing it...

But, it's a challenge! Convince me why you're right, and I'm wrong!


PS: the best argument I've heard so far, I think it was Ben, was (if I
can paraphrase and hope I understood the meaning correctly): because
it's the standard, and it's important to follow standards, even if
they are not perfect, or we'd have anarchy. I definitely agree with
that. But I also think that too-strict/blind adherence to standards
that are not optimal is a cause of stagnation... arguments could go
either way.

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