[petsc-dev] On "Reply-To" munging

Jed Brown jed at 59A2.org
Wed Mar 24 14:32:42 CDT 2010

On Wed, 24 Mar 2010 14:15:26 -0500 (CDT), Satish Balay <balay at mcs.anl.gov> wrote:
> Sure 'reply-to:list' is not perfect.
> But I'd rather keep this than deal with folks doing 'reply' - and
> sending e-mails to individuals instead of doing 'reply-all - to list'.
> Sure the 'reply-to-harmful' folks say: the user has the choice between
> 'reply' and 'reply-all' and 'reply-to:list' removes this choice [hence
> harmful].
> But I don't buy this argument. I think the default choice should be
> the most-commmon used item. And for lists 'reply-all or reply-to:list'
> should be this most-commmon use choice. But currently - this deault is
> in the user's mail-clinet setting. Even if a very few users default to
> 'reply' instead of reply-all' there will be enough indvidual messages
> to annoy us.

Indeed, this is the common issue, and unfortunately many mailers do not
"reply-to-list" by default, even though they certainly should for
messages with list headers.  Mailers tend to eschew more email
conventions and standards every year, so it seems to be a losing battle
and I won't argue against your view that reliability in the common cases
is more important than compliance with the RFCs.

> In my alternative scheme - 'reply-to:list' is the default [so it takes
> care of the major usage]. In the minor usage where folks need to
> *explicitly* replies to individuals - instead of the list - then folks
> should do *extra work* and use 'forward' [instead of reply/reply-all]

Fine, though the reply still won't go to the author's intended
"Reply-To" because the list has overwritten this value, the best a
recipient can possibly do is to reply to the "From" field (which
admittedly, will usually work, even if it's not what the sender
explicitly asked for).

> In the case of 'David Sheehan' - he went back to replying to an old
> petsc-dev email even though there were 30 new petsc-maint e-mails on
> the thread. And based on the latest e-mail - he is not aware that he
> is resending messages to petsc-dev and not to petsc-maint. In such
> cases when the user doesn't know where he is sending e-mails, not
> having 'reply-to:list' doesn't help anyway.



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