Re: Bug in mailing lists; unfriendly to non-subscribers

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On Mon, Jul 5, 2010 at 4:20 PM, Tim <[email protected]> wrote:
> 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.

I mean that there are many steps involved, go to this page, fill this,
wait for that, reply here, etc.

Terminology is a field of study. Bounce is a word in the English
language. I'm not a native English speaker, so I couldn't come up with
a better word to describe the feeling of bumping from one task to the

You cannot expect everyone to come up with the perfect words, and I
thought that my sentence was understandable enough. If you have a
better suggestion, I'm open for it.

>> 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.

There's filters for that. If your current filter doesn't work, switch.
bogofilter maybe?

> 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).

Really? So I don't subscribe I'm a looser whose posts are not welcome?
And if some random guy manages to subscribe (which according to a
previous post it's easy), then it's post is worthwhile?

I don't think so. Also, how do other big guy mailing lists manage
without enforcing subscription? Looser posts are ignored... easy.

> Though I notice that the
> subscription process hasn't stopped a couple of spammers in the last few
> days.

Exactly. That's what spam filters are for.

> 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.

No, it takes time, but eventually it gets posted. I do this on many lists.

>> 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:
> The list works fine.  Messages go to the list, and the list's address is
> in the "to" field, where it belongs.

The initial mail might have the ml is "To", but might also be in "Cc".

But the later posts wouldn't if the rules were right. I would be
sending this mail to you, as you were the originator, and the mailing
list would be kept in Cc.

This has another advantage. Many clients, like Gmail, do smart thing
where the user is in the To field (or Cc for that matter), but on
Fedora lists, that information is lost thanks to the Reply-To munging.

In my MUA, notmuch, for example, I have a rule; if the message was
sent to the the certain mailing list, skip the inbox tag, unless it
was sent to me. No way to do that here.

> Because that's where the post was
> sent to.

Only because of Relpy-To munging; it's a vicious circle.

> 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 are speculating, and doing it wrong.

Most of the mailing lists I'm subscribed to don't munge the Reply-To
header, and all the threads are kept in the ml (in fact multiple
mailing lists as cross-posting works).

> 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.

MUA's don't do that. Reply-To overrides everything. If Reply-To wasn't
overridden, there would be the option to reply to the person, or reply
to everyone (including the ml).

> 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.

Reply-To overrides the Cc too.

However, that's only the *default*, what you call "troublemakers" can
send a mail to whomever they want, and Cc whomever they want. So
that's not an argument in favor of Reply-To munging.

>> 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.

So if somebody doesn't want to subscribe, you are not interested in
what they have to say? Well, I'm not interesting in prejudices, I
would say keep those to yourself.

> 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.

You must participate in a very narrow circle then, as all the mailing
lists in vger don't.

> 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.

Yeah? So don't be one of those.

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

So what you are saying is that I should adapt to the system, not make
the system adapt to me. Even though I know *I* am not the only one who
would benefit from that.

>> 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.

Ah, so it's becoming clear that you don't want to be open.

> 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.

All I want is that people can be able to post one mail, and follow
that thread only.

> 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...

My post was not material for a forum. In fact it was suggested in
bugzilla by many people, and it turns out not many people followed the
thread so it would probably be taken to a council.

>> I'm sending this because my last mail to
>> [email protected] 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
> post.

I didn't like the lack of *feedback*. Even a rejection message would
be better than total silence. But I assume the moderator doesn't
really care at all, or you have a system to automatically drop all the
mail. Both situations are bad; you shouldn't say a message awaits for
moderator approval if it's not the case.

Felipe Contreras
users mailing list
[email protected]
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