Bug in mailing lists; unfriendly to non-subscribers

Tim ignored_mailbox at yahoo.com.au
Mon Jul 5 13:20:21 UTC 2010

On Mon, 2010-07-05 at 14:57 +0300, Felipe Contreras wrote:
> In order to do that I have to subscribe, which takes more than a few
> bounces, and that's the problem.

Something wrong with *your* mail, then, if there's any bouncing.  If you
don't actually meaning mail bounces, then you're using the wrong
terminology.  Please read the answer on my telephone, because my radio
isn't recording the movie on the theatre screen.  Communication doesn't
work if you use the wrong words.

> Public mailing lists should receive mail from *anybody*; if the poster
> is not subscribed, then the message should go through moderation. This
> is the truly open way.

No thanks.  If you want groups full of spam, there's usenet for that.
Subscriptions is a step in minimising crap being posted to the list
(whether that be spam, or simply tossers who'll post rubbish to lists,
just to spout crap from their fingers).  Though I notice that the
subscription process hasn't stopped a couple of spammers in the last few

If the list was moderated in the way you propose, moderators would spend
all their spare time checking new messages, and it'd be ages before your
post got through.

> Orthogonal to this is that the mailing lists should not mingle with
> "Reply-To"; they should leave the To and Cc fields intact, so that the
> MUA can reply to the right addresses. See:
> http://www.unicom.com/pw/reply-to-harmful.html

The list works fine.  Messages go to the list, and the list's address is
in the "to" field, where it belongs.  Because that's where the post was
sent to.

Lists that don't put themselves in the reply-to end up with very few
posts coming back to the list.  You see a list full of the same
questions being asked over and over, because there's no replies being
made in public.

You can still reply to the right address.  A default reply will come
back to the list, where it's supposed to (for this list).  You can opt
to reply to the person by replying to their *from* address, because the
poster's address is in the place that it ought to be, the "from"
address, because that's where the message came from.

I can't recall whether it changes the CCs, and I half agree with keeping
them.  Unfortunately some troublemakers abuse that, by replying to some
post, and adding inappropriate addresses to a CC field.

> This way when a non-subscriber posts something, he doesn't have to add
> the "Please CC me as I'm not in the mailing list"; it will happen
> automatically.

A non-subscriber can't participate, nor should they be able to do.  If
they do subscribe, then things just work.  That's how most/many mailing
lists work.  It's how every single mailing list that I've used over the
last ten years has operated.

I've been on lists which had open membership, and they got deluged with
crap within a very short period.  They last about a week before the list
gets abandoned, or the owner has the sense to close the membership.

A mailing list is the wrong place to a demand an answer for your

> Moreover you have dozens of mailing lists, do you expect people to
> subscribe to them when they want to send a one-time email?

Yes.  You can unsubscribe if they want to, later.  And just be a person
who takes and never gives back.  This is a list, not a free help line.

Alternatively, you can join through a usenet gateway, and have just one
subscription to that usenet gateway, and just hop in and out of the
different groups on it.

Alternatively, you can waste your time with a web forum.  Where you'll
find the same questions being asked over and over, and no answers,
because a private response was sent.  Or deal with a page a gazillion
lines long, trying to find what you want, because some dopey person
thought that everything should be on one page.  Or wade in and out of
threads, playing mystery meat navigation on threads, because people just
won't post messages with useful subject lines...

> I'm sending this because my last mail to
> packaging at lists.fedoraproject.org ended with "Your message to
> packaging awaits moderator approval", and no feedback afterwards; it
> wasn't posted, it wasn't rejected, nothing. So I guess the moderator
> just deleted it.

And there you have your answer about what was wrong with your idea that
everybody should simply be allowed to post, and a moderator should sit
there, manually letting things through.  You didn't like waiting for
your post, yet you think that technique was a good idea, earlier in your

[tim at localhost ~]$ uname -r

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

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