Skip site navigation (1)Skip section navigation (2)
Date:      Tue, 16 Jun 2020 17:37:59 +0200
From:      Polytropon <>
To:        Chris Knipe <>
Cc:        Aryeh Friedman <>, "Steve O'Hara-Smith" <>, FreeBSD - <>
Subject:   Re: Mailing List Etiquette was freebsd vs. netbsd
Message-ID:  <>
In-Reply-To: <>
References:  <> <> <> <> <> <> <> <> <> <> <> <> <> <> <>

Next in thread | Previous in thread | Raw E-Mail | Index | Archive | Help
On Tue, 16 Jun 2020 17:01:45 +0200, Chris Knipe wrote:
> On Tue, Jun 16, 2020 at 4:47 PM Polytropon <> wrote:
> > [...]
> > > 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'.

You're not understanding. Intendedly?

Some users do not live in an "always online" environment. They
obtain their messages via IMAP or POP3. Then they read and answer
them offline, and finally establish an Internet connection again
to send their answers via IMAP or SMTP. During the offline phase,
they do not need any external resources to be able to read the
entire message, including code, logs, tables, diagrams, or config
file snippets (or whole example programs).

> I see no difference to having code in an online repository, vs. in an email
> client.

There is a big difference. I tried to explain it. With IMAP, you
know the presence of the "offline cache", and email is not tied
to being online all the time, nor is email defined by the
requirement of external resources. There are even valid arguments
against (!) incorporating external resources as I wrote (security
considerations, privacy, etc.).

> 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.

Again, the use of the MUA here is not regarding sharing code.
It's about correctly (!) displaying code used within a technical
discussion by technical participants.

> > 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.

No. If you get the messages, say using IMAP or POP3, you do not
automatically retrieve any external resources. I'm not aware of
a MUA that does this. You could, you know, add something like (4069 MB) and your conncection
would be saturated for minutes or hours, or your mobile Internet
plan would run out of space.

> If I solely rely on gmail, and I'm
> offline?

You do. Not everyone does. Some users prefer not to share all
their life with mighty Google (or any other online service for
that matter).

As it seems, many users on _this_ mailing list prefer using a
MUA program (local installation), for whatever reason they
chose to do so. Is that wrong? Should email requiring you to
always use a web browser?

> I can't view my emails, I can't view said code (formatted
> correctly or not).

I can view everything even without any Internet. Power of MUA. :-)

> 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).

You know that Internet access often isn't for free? That you
pay for being connected, or for using a mobile device to connect?
You also acknowledge that a growing amount of people doesn't
seem to like the idea of always being forced to do things
online, in a walled garden?

So _if_ you talk about the majority, you should also admit that
the majority, always online, does not use email at all, as
someone else pointed out.

> The majority of us have connectivity 24x7x365 (or
> some reasonable alternative to that).

Especially on a technical mailing list where users arrive with
Internet problems (cannot connect, connection drops, doesn't
work as fast as it should, and so on), requiring them to have
a working connection all the time is snob mode. And not helpful.

> What if my POP3 email is at home,
> and I am traveling?

Mark as read, keep on the server, connect with IMAP. Use a
trusted device.

> How will I see said code?  What if I have access to
> some 'random' WiFi hotspot, but can't access the mailing list archives?

Then you probably can't access your webmailer either. :-)

> I hear what you are saying - however email is not, and never was intended
> to be used for archival purposes.

The mailing list archives, as an important source for help
in "solved problems", and for reference purposes, begs to

> Source Code repositories such as GIT
> were designed specifically for this purpose.

No, they were not intended for technical discussions involving
code snippets. Yes, I know, they can be _used_ for that, but
that's not their primary purpose. You can use a knife to beat
a nail into the wall, but wouldn't it be easier to use a hammer?

> 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.

That is not what I wrote, for more information please reread.

> unfortunately, goes both ways.  I can very much have access to online
> resources, but not to my email.

So also to the mailing list archive. Your argument is invalid,
my bike is a unicorn. :-)

> > 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.

No, it does _not_, ***IF*** it is part of the discussion.
Again, see code as logs, diagrams, simple formulas, config
files, or programming language code, or scripts.

In the mailing list archives, you can find a lot of code:
temporary fixes for problems, scripts that solve a specific
problem, program invocations, awk examples to get something
out of a log file, or things like that. They are part of the
discussion, so they are part of the message. Sometimes they
even evolve (!) during the discussion, and the included code
snippets express that. It has nothing to do with code
contribution to a project, not with revision control. It
is what it is - a part of the discussion.

Magdeburg, Germany
Happy FreeBSD user since 4.0
Andra moi ennepe, Mousa, ...

Want to link to this message? Use this URL: <>