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

Felipe Contreras felipe.contreras at
Sun Jul 11 10:26:45 UTC 2010

On Sun, Jul 11, 2010 at 1:23 AM, Cameron Simpson <cs at> wrote:
> It may be common knowledge. It is not reflexive behaviour. People reach for
> plain reply by habit. Happens all the time, very common.

Since you are taking your assumptions as truth, I'll do the same:

The only people that have a "reply" reflexive behavior are the ones
that know that "reply" will work most of the time: people subscribed
mostly to munged mailing lists that don't receive group mail.

The people that are on non-munged mailing lists don't have that
reflexive behavior; either they never developed it, or they grew out
of it.

And the common population don't have that reflexive behavior either;
they click sometimes "reply", sometimes "reply to all", but sometimes
they make mistakes, not out of reflexive behavior; they just forget.

> Personally I think mail readers should have buttons labelled "Reply" (meaning
> reply-to-all) and "Reply only to author" (meaning what the button labelled
> "reply" usually mean now).
> It is _usually_ better to reply-to-all in ad hoc groups like the above
> example, and also better to reply-to-all in one-to-one conversation
> (where the buttons mean the same thing).

True, but that's irrelevant, what's relevant is how most of the
clients behave *right now*.

> So I, for one, would advocate going back in time and changing the
> "default" reply button's meaning. Then the situation that _drives_ the
> common list configuration of the reply-to would not be as prevalent.

I agree with that. However people can learn. Even a monkey quickly
learns to press a new button for food, and stop pressing the old one
which now gives electroshocks.

Felipe Contreras

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