[OT] Charset encoding was Re: Can't connect to port 25 from another system

Tim ignored_mailbox at yahoo.com.au
Tue Apr 25 08:06:12 UTC 2006

Ed Greshko:
>>> There is no issue with UTF-8.  There may be problems with someones
>>> implementation...and that goes for any charset encoding...but there is
>>> absolutely no issues with UTF-8.  Anyone that tell you this is blowing
>>> smoke, spreading FUD, and just plain wrong.

>> Sending anything that requires 8-bit data through e-mail *can* be a
>> problem, this is *real*, whether you like it or not.  It's not usually a
>> problem, but it does occasionally crop up.

Ed Greshko:
> Not with modern email clients.  They all work in MIME and encode in
> base64 or QP.  All recent MTA's are 8-bit clean.

It's rarely a *client* issue, more a server problem.  And that's
something that's generally out of your hands.  Whether it be a list
server, or SMTP servers that messages go through.

>> Various mail systems will transcode 8-bit data to 7-bit, and some *will*
>> screw that up.  With more chance of that happening if your mail client
>> doesn't identify what it's doing (i.e. it doesn't say it used UTF-8, or
>> ISO-8859-1, or something else), and the transcoding client assumes
>> something else.

> Poor implementation.  If you have this problem...you need to change your
> email client.  Gmail does a good job.... Thunderbird is wonderful...

Again, this is a combination of server and client issues, and mostly for
the recipient (the sender is usually blissfully ignorant that their
client sends sloppy mail).  This message, the one I'm replying to, went
through six servers before it even got near me.  If any of them liked to
play the transcoding game, they could mess up a malformed mail even
worse than it already was.

People playing cut and paste with their mail clients are often the ones
to hit issues.  e.g. They have a mail client that works in ISO-8859-1,
read a webpage, copy some text from it that's UTF-8, and the paste into
their client doesn't translate or change the mail client encoding.

>> Sending Unicode mail, whether as UTF-7 or UTF-8 can be a problem.
>> Probably not so much for this list, as few probably use MS clients.  But
>> there are plenty of mail clients that don't handle Unicode.  UTF-7 is
>> much more unusual than UTF-8, so even less clients handle it.

> You are very wrong in this regard.

Oh really?  Millions of MSOE users using clients that don't handle
UTF-anything, outnumbering users using other clients that do, suggests
that sending Unicode mail to them would be a problem.

>> A point in case about not identifying content properly; many of the Red
>> Hat / Fedora announcement list messages do not have headers stating the
>> content encoding, and the pages have strange characters splattered
>> through them as the content isn't the same as my mail client's default
>> (use when guessing) settings.  Such messages going through systems that
>> translate are prime candidates for further mangling.  Changing my
>> default encoding is no answer either, because the same problem will
>> occur with some other unidentified message content that's not encoded
>> the same way.

> You are mixing issues.

With what?  It's the same encoding / different encoding / not identified
encoding problem, just a practical example.  I'm sure some people have
kept copies of those messages, and a little bit of hunting around will
find a broken one that doesn't display correctly in their mail client.
I can find messages sent as UTF-8, but with no declaration, so the mail
client either presumes that they're ASCII, or uses its default (which
may be ISO-8859-1), and the result is mangled mail.

It's generally not a major problem, just a few garbled characters in the
text, that you'll read around like any typos.  But it can be a pain if a
translation error occurs in a provided URI.

> It is silly to try to stop mail clients from do these things....

[encoding mail]

> You are right about one thing...  Someone's email client didn't display
> a message properly.  BUT, it wasn't the problem of the sender...it is
> the problem of the receiver.  The sender need not change anything.

I'd say yes, now.  But several years ago I'd suggest the opposite (that
it being worth presetting a client to post in a particular manner).  And
even now, it can be a problem on usenet.

(Currently running FC4, occasionally trying FC5.)

Don't send private replies to my address, the mailbox is ignored.
I read messages from the public lists.

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