*HCS* Final Call for Ignitaries!

Mike Brauwerman brauwerm at fas.harvard.edu
Thu Oct 5 12:03:37 EDT 2000

>  > > That article is no more valid now than it was the last four or five
>  > > times we went around on this.
> To be specific, most of the things it cites are implementation defects
> (eg, if you add Reply-To: pointing to the list, any existing reply-to
> header should be promoted to From:) and it's also less than perfectly
> aware of how mail clients actually work.

But down at the end, it makes one very good point, and that shouldn't be
ignored because

Principle of Least Damage

   Consider the damage when things go awry. If you do not munge the
   Reply-To header and a list subscriber accidentally sends a response
   via private email instead of to the list, he or she has to follow up
   with a message that says, ``Ooops! I meant to send that to the list.
   Could you please forward a copy for me.'' That's a hassle, and it
   happens from time to time.
   What happens, however, when a person mistakenly broadcasts a private
   message to the entire list? If the message is a complaint about the
   personal hygiene of sender's boss, or the sex life of his or her
   roommate, a simple ``Ooops!'' won't cut it. About all you can do is
   send a followup with lots of retroactive smileys (weak). Or say your
   cat was dancing on the keyboard (better). Or start reading the
   classifieds for a new job/roommate/set of teeth (most likely).
   Reply-To munging encourages catastrophic failure modes. 

Also, not-munging reply-to gives a far better results in the case of
"Unsubscribe me" people, preventing follow-up floods.


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