Reply-To munging summary (was: Bug in mailing lists; unfriendly to non-subscribers)

Tim ignored_mailbox at
Sat Jul 10 05:34:04 UTC 2010

On Fri, 2010-07-09 at 09:24 -0430, Patrick O'Callaghan wrote:
> I wonder if we're all just rearranging the deckchairs on the Titanic
> when it comes to mailing lists. I have the impression that the whole
> ml thing is actually a poor man's Usenet, invented because everyone
> has mail.

I've had the same thought before, many a time.  I used to use usenet a
lot.  It was a handy thing, you only downloaded what you want, you
didn't need to keep the downloaded messages, the clients had much better
management features (hide 3 day old mail, purge 2 week old cached
messages, thread watch, idiot ignore, proper threading, etc., etc.), and
usenet had the benefit of one subscription for all groups, and no need
to expose an email address to the world (it was usually easy enough to
fill in a dead address to subscribe).  Though did have the problem that
anybody could subscribe, and almost nobody could remove a pest; and
cartloads of spam spread across all groups because anybody could post,
and crosspost without limit.

There were two main reasons I eventually stopped using Usenet:  Pan
wasn't as good as Agent, and got even worse as they removed important
features from being controllable from the interface, forcing you to hand
edit configuration files, if the feature still existed.  And the topics
I became interested in weren't on usenet.

But, the whole methodology of how usenet works, and how you use it, is
much better than every mailing list that I've ever used.

> people are *very* reluctant to learn a new tool unless the benefit to
> them (not to the institution) is immediately clear.

About the only alternative accepted was the worst of the bunch; web
forums.  Sure, they've convenient for Googling for an answer, or using
just one forum from any computer that you had to hand.  But they suck
big time when it come to following lots of different topics, as you have
to visit each one individually, logging in separately.  Have to wade
through a page six miles long, bloated with a hodgepode of misused HTML
tables, JavaScript, animated avatars, etc.  Not to mention the extreme
security risk of visiting unknown websites full of unknown gumph, while
you try to fix a problem with your computer.  I'm sure that, by now,
most of us have come across a page with a flashing advert at the top
stating "your computer is infected, click this link to scan your PC,"
where the statement is an outright lie, and it's a fair bet that letting
it pretend to scan you will create problems.

> So now we're having to consider Facebook, Twitter, you-name-it. Yech.

If there was ever a more aptly named internet thing as twitter, I
haven't come across it yet.  Utterly useless.

I had a friend ask me to set up MySpace and Facebook pages for him, and
what an incredibly painful process that was.  Slow as hell websites, a
bewildering array of crap to wade through and turn off, much of which
you couldn't turn off, and it hijacks everything you type in to keep
people within their messy system.

e.g. I tried including a link to his real website, and it kept on
breaking it.  Either not letting me post a link, inserting things into
the address to break it, or passing people through a click through that
warns you that following the link may be dangerous, but without there
ever being any analysis of the link.  i.e. It virtually defames you.

[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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