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Re: [Fsfe-uk] Administrivia: html duplicates

From: Chris Croughton
Subject: Re: [Fsfe-uk] Administrivia: html duplicates
Date: Mon, 28 Jan 2008 11:21:01 +0000
User-agent: Mutt/1.5.11

On Sun, Jan 27, 2008 at 09:18:13PM +0000, Alex Hudson wrote:

> On Sun, 2008-01-27 at 13:09 +0000, Chris Croughton wrote:
> > > In technical terms, there shouldn't be vast difference between loading
> > > plain text mails and loading HTML mails - for the most part, that
> > > information comes from an index, so the actual size/content of a mail is
> > > inconsequential.
> > 
> > I don't know what keeps an index, mutt certainly doesn't because it uses
> > straight .mbx format with all emails in a file
> I bet you dollars to donuts it's not processing that entire .mbx file
> though - it's going to dance around at the end where the interesting
> mail is and build an in-memory index as it goes.

Nope.  Because it doesn't know where the 'interesting' mail is, the
relevant thread might be weeks or months old.  I can see it reading the
file, it counts up as it does it.

> I grant you the thing about disk storage though; certainly that doesn't
> apply to mbox files.

One reason I prefer them.

> > > I don't think the pure technical argument is persuasive. The practical
> > > argument is much more relevant - in terms of the HTML actually emitted -
> > > but on technical grounds, I actually think HTML wins the theory.
> > 
> > Well, how about a social argument -- it gets people annoyed and they
> > don't bother reading the messages?
> Sure, but you can also not bother reading the message based on:
>       * who wrote it,
>       * whether they started their reply at the top or bottom of the
>         e-mail,
>       * whether they used a reasonable subject line,
>       * how long the lines in the e-mail are,
>       * whether they USED ALL CAPITALS IN THE MESSAGE or used txt wrds 2
>         mk it kwik
> ... and all sorts of other reasons. It's almost like saying you're not
> going to talk to a Scouser until they learn a bit of Estuary English or
> something, it's not as simple as saying "people have to write correctly
> if they want me to read it". 

Except that there is a difference between not using correct English (I
CAN HAS LOLCAT NAU PLZ?) and having that text in a <font type='Arial'
size='big' style='italic'>mangled</font> format where I can't even see
the text.  Long lines may be a problem for technical reasons, ISTR that
RFC 1822 sets a maximum line length which MTAs must handle and anything
over that is at your own risk.

> Honestly, if plain text were sufficient, that would be all I would use.
> And for the most part on this lists and others, I only use it. But
> there's no way I could use that with most non-technical people.

Why not?  I do and I've never had any complaints about my text-only
messages.  Non-technical people seem to understand /emphasised/ and
*bold* text fine even without mailer markup (some mailers do change
colour or font style, most don't), even though they may not know exactly
what I mean by ** they know it's making the word stand out.  They seem
to quite easily understand quote formatting as well.

OK, for some things you may need pictures.  But not for this list (if it
ever went to allowing pictures and other binary data I'd block it fast,
there's a good reason I don't visit newsgroups which allow binaries).

> I would worry that by enforcing too-strict formatting compliance
> rules, you end up effectively preventing people who don't/can't comply
> with those rules from participating. And in general, that probably
> means non-technical people, and as free software becomes more
> accessible to non-techies I would think it would be more important for
> this list to be accessible to them.

The list converts HTML messages to plain text ones as I understand it,
so they aren't being prevented from eith er posting or reading the list.

> So, I would say there are social reasons either way. I've no particular
> wish to read messages in green text, but then I've no wish to read them
> in ALL CAPS either. It's not really a technical thing, it is a social
> thing.

But no one is proposing that messages should be or be translated into
all caps, or even in LOLCAT.  If they did then no doubt there would be
objections to those as well.

Chris C

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