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

Cameron Simpson cs at
Sun Jul 11 02:10:46 UTC 2010

On 09Jul2010 12:03, Kwan Lowe <kwan at> wrote:
| On Fri, Jul 9, 2010 at 9:54 AM, Patrick O'Callaghan
| <pocallaghan at> wrote:
| [snip]
| > I also agree with the rest of your post (and see no reason to quote it
| > in its entirety :-), but 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. Years ago I tried to promote a
| > (local) News structure in my University as a medium of discussion, and
| > there was just no way I could get people to use it. The old saying "to a
| > guy with a hammer, every problem is a nail" applies here. Alternative
| > mechanisms such as bboards etc. also just didn't cut the mustard because
| > people are *very* reluctant to learn a new tool unless the benefit to
| > them (not to the institution) is immediately clear.

This, in principle, is where multi-interface systems can be handy.
Google Groups, for example and GMANE, which gateway between usenet and
mailing lists _and_ provide a forum-like web view of the messages
present the same content in different modes for various users. With a
greater or lesser success.

Supposing Mailman had a "forum" view of its archives where the reply
button was a mailto: link embedding the right subject and to: line.
People magicly get their preferred mail reader for composition and it
might "just work" fairly well. Can the in-reply-to header be embedded in
a mailto: link?

| Indeed...
| I think there are benefits to both,  but I admit that I stopped using
| Usenet some years ago. Targeted lists such as this one work for me
| because the volume of mail is manageable. At the same time, I do
| notice that mailing lists tend to make silos of information. This is a
| benefit for certain specific information (e.g., purely CentOS related
| discussion) but for more general information there is a lot of
| duplication.
| I've always for some method of aggregating multiple mailman lists into
| a custom list. Not certain how it would work, but perhaps a keyword
| header would do the trick. I use RSS for some sites, but it would not
| work for the volume of mail in a typical list.

My current approach is to file several lists into a single mail folder ("sh",
"unix", "mutt" etc).

| Right now I am
| subscribing to multiple lists and using keywords in the Google mail
| client to create topics for my interests (e.g., Xen/KVM, image
| editing, etc..).  But that means I need to keep thousands of messages
| from the dozen or so lists to which I am subscribed.

Should you care? Unless your mail volume is biting into your ISP's
bandwidth limits having thousands of messages is a win. Personally, if I
subscribe to new a mailman list my first act is often to suck down the
entire archive and unpack it into my mail folders so I can consult it
easier and see history. Mairix works fairly well for my searching needs.

Cameron Simpson <cs at> DoD#743

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