[RC5] Reply-to (was: State of the distributed.net Address: Week of 12-28-97)

Colin L. Hildinger colin at ionet.net
Tue Jan 6 01:00:54 EST 1998

On Mon, 5 Jan 1998 23:14:53 -0500 (EST), James Mastros wrote:

>On Mon, 5 Jan 1998, Colin L. Hildinger wrote:
>> On Mon, 05 Jan 1998 13:15:10 +0100, Jo Hermans wrote:
>> >hile we're on the subject, can we change the reply-to on this list to the
>> >original sender ? Then all replies go to the correct sender, and we're all
>> >saved from the meaningless chatting ...
>> I've seen this suggested a few times but it's really not a good idea. 
>> The best idea is for people to learn to use their email programs (no
>> offense intended, Jo).  Every list I've ever been on is set to have the
>> list as the reply-to address.  Why?  It's simple: the list is generally
>> considered the place where replies to the message should.  It's a
>> _discussion_ list so you are expected to discuss.  Occasionally you
>> have a private reply to someone and you send it to them.  I haven't
>> been paying attention to the people who keep requesting this feature,
>> maybe Windows Eudora Pro Version 3.0 (32) handles things different from
>> my mailer which askes who I intend to mail it to each time reply-to and
>> from are different.  If so then I'd say it's your mailers fault for
>> "poor usability."
>Interesting... The linux-kernel list (the other list I'm on) isn't this way.
>The original from, to, and cc headers are passed on to the recipients.  I
>note that there is far less "whops, should have been private" mail.  That
>way, the default is still to send to the list, but it's easy to take them
>off, and you still have the email of the original sender handy.  To quote
>RFC 0821
>For systems which automatically generate address lists for replies to
>messages, the following recommendations are made:
>                o The "Sender" field mailbox should be sent notices of any
>		  problems in transport or delivery of the original
>		  messages. If there is no "Sender" field, then the "From"
>		  field mailbox should be used.
>                o The "Sender" field mailbox should NEVER be used
>		   automatically, in a recipient's reply message.
>                o If the "Reply-To" field exists, then the reply should go
>		  to the addresses indicated in that field and not to the
>		  address(es) indicated in the "From" field.

OK, I'm not sure what the point of quoting the RFC was, but note how
this list follows it:

>From: James Mastros <root at jennifer-unix.dyn.ml.org>
>To: "rc5 at llamas.net" <rc5 at llamas.net>
>Sender: owner-rc5 at llamas.net
>Reply-To: rc5 at llamas.net

From: indicates that you sent the email.
To: Indicates where you sent it
Sender: is owner-rc5 at llamas.net -- if someone's POS Excrete -- er,
Exchange mail server bounces a message, the bounce notification is sent
to owner-rc5 at llamas.net, not to you.
Reply-To: indicates that replies should go to this list.  Replying
directly to the person who sent it is the *exception*, not the rule.

>Normaly, people just "reply to all", sending copies to the list and to the
>original sender (many more non-subscribers post to linux-kernel then rc5, so
>this is more of in issue).  If they want to, it is a simple operation to
>delete off the list, somthing which is not true with the current system on
>rc5 (the Reply-to header was designed to designate a place to reply to
>instead of to the From header).

Again I will point out (see
http://www.ionet.net/~colin/beta/graphics/reply-to.gif for a capture),
my mailer handles this just fine.  If I have a reply-to and a from then
it gives me a choice.  Knowing that I'm dealing with a list I *expect*
this to pop up and automatically select the proper selection.  It's
just habbit at this point.  If this behavior annoys me I can change it,
I think, but I like it this way.  If your mailer doesn't do it this way
maybe you should see if it's an option or consider a different mailer
(PMMail for Win32 is in the late beta stages and is coming soon:
www.southsoft.com -- <unsolicited plug>PMMail is the best mailer I've
ever seen or used on *any* platform</unsolicited plug>).

"Reply to all" is one of the most annoying things someone can do on a
mail list. (besides ramble on something that is not only off topic but
not even ineresting -- do I resemble that remark here?  :) Sorry if
so.)  Why?

1) I would have gotten 2 copies of your message
2) I would have had to look at both to see which one to use to reply to
the list

Being somewhat experienced at mailing lists at this point, I know from
reading the original message whether I want to reply to all or not.  If
someone is posting to a list they're not a member of and expecting a
response they should clearly state "I am not a member of this list,
please reply directly."  Users on the list should reply to all so that
they can see if the person's question has been answered and if the
answer was correct (always important).  If someone who's not a member
of a list posts without doing this they really shouldn't expect a

It's really not that hard to deal with the way it is, and (not
bragging, please no who's dick's bigger posts) of the 10 or so mailing
lists I've been on over the last year, ALL have used the same setup
that this list does.  It just seems to be how most people do it.  I
know it's default for the lists I manage, I assume it's default for
others.  Frankly, it just makes sense.

Colin L. Hildinger
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