[Bf-funboard] Protocol: How Threading Works

GSR gsr.b3d at infernal-iceberg.com
Sat Feb 21 23:53:56 CET 2009

kamaleshwar.morjal at gmail.com (2009-02-21 at 1256.02 +0530):
> Tony Mullen wrote:
> >> Please, please, PLEASE don't start new threads (e-mails), but use the
> [snip]
> > This comment seemed to be directed at me. I get these mails in a
> > digest which may contain multiple thread topics in a single mail, so
> > I'm not sure how using reply is supposed to automatically organize
> > threading. I assumed threading was based on the subject line, which I
> > thought I had cut and pasted from other messages.
> I guess its not just the subject line, it depends on the mail's headers.

No need to guess. ;] Just look at them and you will see Message-ID,
In-Reply-To and References headers. You will even see extra info for
mail lists, etc, but most mail apps seem to go to the basic even if
that means extra job later... think "how do i unsubscribe" that plague
some lists (List-Unsubscribe header). Webmail apps, are probably even
less featureful.

Digest mode seems to keep the headers that matter and provide a
suggestion to edit Subject, but no info about the issues of breaking
threading (someone posted a full copy of digest time ago, that saved
me looking how they look in Mailman ;] ). The issue still holds, you
need apps that can process that post into multiple valid mails (like
formail in many unix, procmailex man page has an example) or let you
edit headers.

> Probably go to the archives and reply to that particular mail
> from there?

If your app supports In-Reply-To in mailto: links, it could work, but
the values I see are suspiciously rare, as they point to previous
post, not the one you want to reply to (Pipermail/Mailman bug
1834281). So only option I know that works via archive is getting the
downloadable version, convert to a valid mailbox format, then reply to
the mails, as the gzips keep References and Message-IDs.

> > My own pet peeve happens to be when people press the reply button in
> > their client and send duplicates of the entire previous mail thread
> > with every single message.
> >
> > If people must use reply, then I'd ask that they please remember to
> > first delete the contents of the mail that they won't be responding to
> > directly.
> Agreed, parts of the mails one is not addressing to are better removed
> from replies.

Sadly some apps make the good style harder than the bad one. You could
add TOFU, signature before quoted part or poor marks for quoting to
the list of pets. After some time you end tired of smashing people
(including coders that could make things easier) with rfc1855 and
related docs.


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