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Date:      Tue, 16 Jun 2020 17:01:45 +0200
From:      Chris Knipe <>
To:        Polytropon <>
Cc:        Aryeh Friedman <>, "Steve O'Hara-Smith" <>,  FreeBSD - <>
Subject:   Re: Mailing List Etiquette was freebsd vs. netbsd
Message-ID:  <>
In-Reply-To: <>
References:  <> <> <> <> <> <> <> <> <> <> <> <> <> <>

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On Tue, Jun 16, 2020 at 4:47 PM Polytropon <> wrote:

> > Simple - don't email it.
> Why not?
Because of this exact reason why this thread is floating about.  MUA's
don't understand it.  You're not going to change the MUA, you're not going
to change user behaviour.

The only thing you CAN change, is how the code / snippets are handled.  If
you insist on doing so via email, that is your choice, it is not a
requirement.  There are better ways to do it, such as for example, online.

> > If you do, attach it as an attachment (MIME is
> > there for a reason)...
> >
> > There's GIT / CVS / Take your pick for a reason... :-)
> Those are external resources that can vanish for some reason.

And if I use IMAP, and my IMAP server is unreachable?  Then I also don't
have access to my email and therefore it has also 'vanished'.

I see no difference to having code in an online repository, vs. in an email
client.  The difference is that an online code repository has been
specifically designed to hold, and format code correctly, a MUA, has not.
That is not what a MUA's intended purpose is.

> The goal of the mailing list is that messages can be processed
> off-line, and they are perfectly allowed (!) to contain things
> like source code, ASCII tables, even simple networking diagrams
> or even formulas. Incornporating "external technology" for
> something the medium can do in its own doesn't sound very
> convenient (even though it sounds "modern", so it could probably
> appeal to certain users just due to this fact). Some mailing
> lists, such as this one, do not use binary attachments.
> Using text attachments for code is probably possible.
> However, this is a _discussion_ mailing list, not primarily
> intended for sharing code. That doesn't stop users from
> presenting code in the context of questions (and when I say
> code, I also mean scripts, logs, sometimes ASCII diagrams,
> or configuration files).
I have to be 'online' to get messages from the mailing list, I can be
'online' to view code in a repository.  If I solely rely on gmail, and I'm
offline?  I can't view my emails, I can't view said code (formatted
correctly or not).

We are in a modern society where connectivity is paramount (again, I am
talking about the majority, not the minority stuck in the basement using
360K floppy drives).  The majority of us have connectivity 24x7x365 (or
some reasonable alternative to that).  What if my POP3 email is at home,
and I am traveling?  How will I see said code?  What if I have access to
some 'random' WiFi hotspot, but can't access the mailing list archives?

I hear what you are saying - however email is not, and never was intended
to be used for archival purposes.  Source Code repositories such as GIT
were designed specifically for this purpose.  I can argue just as much as
you can.  You maintain you will have 24x7x365 access to your email whilst
you may not have 24x7x365 access to a resource on the Internet.  This
unfortunately, goes both ways.  I can very much have access to online
resources, but not to my email.

Visual presentation of data is a different "layer" than
> the data itself. And there is no 1:1 relation. Things like
> font size and displaying should not be a matter of the
> mail message itself, except... yes, it's not that easy!
> As a programmer, you will surely agree that there is:
> a) text that should be presented as it was written,
> b) text that the MUA is free to (and should) arrange, and
> c) text where it simply doesn't matter what the MUA does.
> Making this choice isn't always easy. Multipart-MIME can be
> helpful. Even though a mailing list is, by no means, a "one size
> fits all" solution, so there is a certain consensus about what
> is useful and what is rather not. This consensus changes over
> time, and within this consensus, there are many ways a user can
> express his questions, answers, suggestions and thoughts in a
> mailing list message.
I agree with you.  The MUA should NOT modify the message, and I despise
this as much as you do.  Fact remains, you're not going to change every
single MUA in the world, and you are most certainly not going to get
everyone to use the same MUA either.  Work WITH the MUA, and not AGAINST
the MUA.  Your code belongs online, not in some arbitrary MUA that formats
said text as it 'believes' is best.


Chris Knipe

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