My basic problem is that occasionally I want to reply with private
information to someone who has posted to a list. In the case of the
list, Yahoo! sets the "Reply-to" field to the list itself, so that
follow-ups go to the list by default, not the sender.
I did find one clunky way to do this, but it shouldn't be so hard. Look
at all the ways that DON'T work:
If I choose "Reply to sender", it doesn't. It goes to the list. As does
"Reply". As does "Reply to list". Three functions, all doing the thing I
don't want. Two of them I understand, but "Reply to sender" should do
what I ask.
I could copy the email address, hit "reply", and paste in what's on my
clipboard - but it only copies the actual email address, not the
person's name, which would be rude.
There doesn't seem to be any way to copy the entire "From" field... why
not??? I can't even use the mouse to select it, because it's not
selectable text. Before I found my other solution, I had to go "view
source" and copy the sender's data from there!
So the awkward solution that I have, is to use "Reply All" and erase the
addresses I don't want... but that seems silly when there are a range of
functions for things I never use, and this is an everyday feature.
Why isn't there a "Reply to From" that actually works, and/or why isn't
there a proper "Copy" function on the "From:" address?
We might have a discussion somewhere about the general concept of
replying 'privately' to a mail that was posted/mailed to a list.
I would think the 'netiquette' is all over the map about that. I know
that I have been on lists in the past which I definitely did not want
some other listees to be emailing me 'personally' replies to.
But your question is about how a mail agent works, not mailing list
netiquette, so I don't think replies to this discussion subthread
belongs in Tbird support.
I think 'private channel' traffic should not be unilateral, ie
'unsolicited' by the recipient, but should only occur if the recipient
has somehow specifically 'invited' private mail from anyone on the list
who wants to email them. A proper mailing list should actually not
expose all of the listees mail addresses to each other.
X-Posted to .general; followups there.
If you right click on the person to whom you wish to send the email a
menu comes up, select "compose message to"
Well, the list _is_ the sender, actually. When you participate in a
list, your message goes to the list server, which then distributes it to
the list members. That's why the Reply to Sender doesn't address the
member: his/her address is not listed as the Reply to. Nothing to do
with Tbird, it just does what it's supposed to do. This is not a Yahoo!
problem, either. Yahoo! just set up the list to work the way it's
supposed to work.
Less clunky work-around:
Use Edit as New, and delete the addresses you don't want. If you don't
want to quote the whole message, highlight only the part you want to
[Highlight selected quote] > right click on header > Edit As New
FWIW, I sometimes use Edit As New instead of Forward, it's more flexible
Somewhere, yes; the thing is, the "Reply-to" field might be a convenient
default, or a strict rule; Thunderbird has no way of knowing so it
shouldn't try to be the enforcer; that should be up to the user.
Thank you for taking the time to answer, Mike, but I think your
perspective is based on the particular lists you belong to, and is
coloured by that. On some of the lists I'm on, it's entirely appropriate
to send an occasional confidential message to the actual sender, and I
need support in getting Thunderbird to do that for me more easily. Don't
worry, just because I want to do it, doesn't mean I'm encouraging others
to break the protocols of the lists they're on ;-)
You're entitled to your opinion of course, but if that's true, I think
your world is somewhat different from mine.
I disagree; this is a Thunderbird question, isn't it? In any case, I'm
not subscribed to that group, so I wouldn't see any follow-on.
The trouble with that, is that it doesn't quote the thing you're helping
with, and the reference header will be missing. However, you're right
that this is another way to copy the sender's address including the name
- one can do this, copy the address, close it, and then reply, and paste
in the sender as the recipient. However, that's pretty clunky too.
I guess so, if you're thinking about the transport of the bits, but the
list is not the author, and it's the author that could use the
Perhaps there should be an option "Reply to 'From'"!
I agree the default action is correct. (Of course.) It's just that the
difficulty of overriding the default action is harder than it should be
given the legitimacy (challenged by others, I notice!) of the operation.
That doesn't work for me, because in this case the "From" is not listed
when I do "Edit as new". I did update my Ubuntu recently, but I'm not
sure if I have the absolute latest Tbird, perhaps I should check.
Thanks everyone for answering. Interesting.
Name (show a link to the subscription page) one specific list that you
are on that you think it is appropriate for you to email other listees
If instead of a 'formal' mailing list with a majordomo, you are instead
referring to a 'private mailing list' (group mail) between friends which
doesn't have a majordomo/listserv, then that is another matter.
And I use Edit as New as a clunky substitute for "redirect"; it works,
but if I used it more often, I'd be searching vigorously for a program
that allowed the "from" line to be "from Richard Roe by way of John
Smith" instead of "from John Smith".
joy beeson at comcast dot net http://roughsewing.home.comcast.net/
The above message is a Usenet post.
I don't recall having given anyone permission to use it on a Web site.
Note: it's obviously preferable that replies go to the list, and that's
why "Reply-to" is set to that. But occasionally there's information that
2. Querying misbehaviour on someone's part (which should not be
3. Boring, or only relevant to the recipient
4. Embarrassing to the recipient
And there's no rule against emails.
If what you were proposing were true, then web-based forums would not
have invented "Private Message" systems, which most of them have.
Perhaps this is 'another matter'. I just want to use my groups easily
disclaimer: I have never read or participated in a yahoo group, online
The wiki article says this about yg:
"In September 2010 a major facelift was rolled out, making Yahoo groups
look very similar to Facebook. However, several key features were
removed, notably the ability to respond directly to the sender of a
message rather than the group," http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yahoo_groups
That appears to be about the online interface, but it is still salient
to this discussion.
At the link/group you provided it says this:
Group Settings - Members cannot hide email address
That setting allows group members to 'take advantage' of the exposed
email address of other members.
You and I have very different philosophies about sending someone an
The person - yg listee - who put their name on the y group's list did
/not/ put their address in your private addressbook or any mailing list
you might create for whatever purpose.
A basic concept of spam, which is all about unsolicited mail, is quite
clear/specific that when a person puts themselves on some mailing list,
that does not entitle any entity which has access to that list to put
any of those addresses onto some other list which the addressee has not
specifically (and revocably) authorized.
First of all, I eschew web-based forums and secondly, all of the web
forums I have been 'forced' to use for some purpose which I could not
achieve some other way allowed me to specify whether or not I wanted to
receive any PMs from any other members, other than admins. So, other
I haven't used Yahoo lists, but this is a common issue among many
mailing lists, because a) not many email clients have a reply to list
button and b) the majority of people always click "Reply" instead of
As a result, many mailing lists automatically add the list address to
the Reply-To header of ever message sent to the list, even though it is
theoretically incorrect (pragmatism wins).
On this list, I turned it off in 2007. http://groups.google.com/group/mozilla.support.thunderbird/m[..]
Try contacting the yahoo list administrator to see if he/she is willing
stop adding the list address to the Reply-To header.
Chris Ilias < http://ilias.ca> >
Mailing list/Newsgroup moderator
You don't say what version of TB you have, but on 5.0 you simply *right*
click on the name in the FROM portion of the header, and select "Compose
Message To". Simple as that.
Simply choose OPTIONS->QUOTE MESSAGE and the quotes magically appear.
Well that's certainly interesting, and it's a function I've never
noticed before - I'm wondering what message gets quoted, because it's
It's not a perfect solution because the Subject doesn't get filled in,
and the reference headers are missing; however, you could argue that by
circumventing the "Reply to " default, the user is starting a partially
new thread anyway - so it's not such a big complaint.
I think I'm going to continue with the "reply all and delete extras"
method for now, but yours is the best alternative so far.
The lists are set up correctly; the freecycle group is split into an
offer/wanted part (no chatting allowed) where the reply is set to the
sender to respond to the post, and a chat group dedicated to reuse
issues. This allows users to opt out of the chatting if they're not
interested. The chat group is set up to reply to the list by default.
The defaults are perfect in 99% of cases and it works well. The issue is
that Thunderbird doesn't offer a way to override the default. Although
I've never wanted to respond to a post in the Offer/Wanted section to
the list, I've just tested it and I notice that "Reply to List" doesn't
Doesn't anyone else think that "Reply-to" should be a default that can
be overridden with a menu choice? It might be a no-no on one list you're
on, but you should think about that before using it, not program it into
Thunderbird to get everyone to think like you do.
Belonging to these particular groups would be pointless for people who
wanted to conceal their email addresses. These are open, friendly
groups: we have to stop people posting their phone numbers and street
For sure. One real person typing a real answer to a real question would
not meet anyone's definition of spam.
Someone who was a moderator or sysop might say "Don't contact me
personally" for support issues, to avoid a flood of requests that should
go to another channel; but most normal people would be happy to receive
an email from another person, and wouldn't use the word "unsolicited" on
the first one. Email is about the most inoffensive way you can get
someone a message; I can't believe that a normal person would be upset
Ha! I understand that concept, but my point is that a public 'forum'
such as a newsgroup or a mailing list under a listserv should not
/force/ the participants to expose their email address if they don't
want to, just like it shouldn't force a participant to expose their
street address or phone number if they don't want to.
Just because a topic arises in a newsgroup doesn't mean that any of the
group's participants want to open an email dialogue with anyone who
wants to email them. A properly structured mailing list should work the
The moderator shouldn't have to say 'don't email me'. The structure of
the mail exchange process should prevent anyone from being able to email
That should not be assumed. There are plenty of normal people on both
sides of that idea; normal people who do and other normals who don't
want to receive a mail from someone who knows their newsgroup or mailing
list persona but doesn't actually know their 'meatspace' persona.
Some people want more and more email (and other social network) friends.
Some people do not. The ones who want more, send more. They should not
assume that everyone else is just like them.
Unsolicited is unsolicited. If I give a personal friend my email
address, that is a form of consent to be emailed. If some friend Alice
asked me for another friend Bob's email address, I would email Bob an
tell him that Alice wanted his email address - I would not just 'give'
Alice Bob's address because I knew it.
Different people have different ideas about what is proper email netiquette.
That is, I consider it 'rude' to email someone I don't know otherwise
but whose email address was provided to me by some 'system' which didn't
give that person a chance to participate in a public group without
exposing their email addy.
There's a difference between upset and considering something rude or
forward - to 'insert' a level of relationship which the other person
didn't invite. Personal email is a 'closer' and different relationship
than participating in a public forum.
If you email me because I had to expose my email address to participate
in this newsgroup, that would create a 'problematic' email social
situation in which you want to email me, but I don't us to have an email
Newsgroups and listserv mailing lists should not work that way.
The message that you had previously selected, same as usual.
FWIW, I'm with Mike on this. I don't want my personal email address
available on strangers' computers, and especially not on those of the
thousands of readers of this newsgroup/mailing list. There are too many
compromised PCs out there, sending spam to every email address they can
find on those boxes.
Very few people know my real live email address, and I'd like to control
who they are. I'd be willing to guess this group is probably pretty
evenly divided in this respect.
-This space for rent, but the price is high
This thread has drifted so much that I'm actually agreeing with this.
I'm probably extreme in having well over a dozen email addresses, but I
would assume that most people would maintain a 'hotmail' or other free
email account separate from the personal email address they share with
their close family, for the purposes of public social participation.
I certainly wouldn't post from an email I cared about to USENET.
In the case of the free cycle yahoo groups, the website
< http://trashnothing.com/> > actually provides free email addresses
specifically for this purpose.
I suppose when it comes down to it, I feel that if you're going to join
a community it's a matter of common courtesy to let people talk to you
privately if they wish. I don't have a cast-iron case for this, but it's
sort of related to the following: in a social situation, perhaps you
have made a faux pas or something, the polite response would not be to
chastise in public, but to inform confidentially. To refuse confidential
messages forces other people to communicate sensitive information
publicly, or not at all. This is just one example. I feel that blocking
personal communication breaks many of the other social protocols that
help us live harmoniously.
I understand that sometimes it's inappropriate to send personal
messages; but I don't think Thunderbird should be enforcing, or even
assuming that. On the same basis, you could argue that the "Fwd"
function should be removed, because there are so many chain-letters, and
someone *might* use the Fwd feature to pass on private email to a third
But it doesn't matter how many examples you can think of where
forwarding is wrong, the fact remains that sometimes it's right; so
there's a menu option for it. Similarly, you can go on forever about not
wanting personal emails from a list member but the fact remains that
sometimes it's appropriate, so there should be a "primary" way of doing
that. (By "primary" I mean that it doesn't have to be a default, or a
toolbar button, but it shouldn't be necessary to 'fight' Tbird by
copying and pasting or deleting unwanted stuff in order to achieve this
And as a postscript to this discussion: I've just witnessed a perfect
example of why "reply to sender" should actually do what it says. One
moderator posted a comment, and another moderator replied to her
admonishing her for not checking her facts first. I'm pretty sure that
second moderator did not intend for the admonishment to be public. A
case of "reply to sender" perhaps?
I respect your desire for privacy and your preference for anonymous
communication, but I'm afraid it hasn't changed my belief that there
should be an option for "Reply to From" which actually works. Whether
you use it, or supply a valid email address is entirely up to you.
That's what "Reply-to" means -- I think that TB should not presume to discern via telepathy
whether list members want or don't want replies to go back to the list by default,
nor to assume that a "From" address is even genuine,
nor to override standard rules based on such a guess.
"If the Reply-To field exists,
then the reply should go to the addresses indicated in that field
and not to the address(es) indicated in the From field."
< http://tools.ietf.org/html/rfc822#section-4.4.4> >
"When the Reply-To: field is present, it indicates the mailbox(es)
to which the author of the message suggests that replies be sent."
< http://tools.ietf.org/html/rfc2822#section-3.6.2> >
The above are rules for email messages; for Usenet (newsgroup) messages,
as of my TB version (3.1.15), slightly different options apply,
in which "Reply to sender only" (by email) is distinguished from
"Reply to Newsgroup" (by NNTP only) or "Reply to all" (both),
and for the actions involving email:
"Reply-To: If present, mailed replies to the author should be sent here."
< http://tools.ietf.org/html/rfc1036#section-2.2.1> >
You are speaking from a very narrow point of view,
applicable to only a special case of a certain particular list,
that can't represent the right _general_ action that's always safe to take.
I think that any built-in "reply" action that normally means to the "From" address,
but is intended to be overridden by any Reply-to also supplied in the original message,
should follow the expected rules, as defined above,
without second-guessing who inserted the "Reply-to" address,
how seriously they meant it to be obeyed, and whether any "From" address
might even be intentionally invalid (see below for more about this).
If "Reply to list" means to select a special header that always means
to a mailing list, similar to "Reply to newsgroup," then these are each
intended for _you_ to _avoid_ replying to the individual sender,
and again should not fail to do that when _you_ choose that yourself.
Messages are not automatically sent, however, and nothing prevents you,
if you feel personally justified, from copying the "From" address
(in TB simply by right-clicking it and choosing "Copy email address")
and then pasting it wherever else you judge most suitable, either
in _addition_ to (perhaps via "Bcc:") for what used to be called
a "courtesy copy," or _overriding_ the original destination,
which TB is clearly not equipped to decide for itself.
As to how "rude" it may be to do this, when a sender expresses his address as
"putmyfullnamehere*******" (as you do) then many would interpret this
as an obvious "I welcome direct email" invitation, although still requiring
more manual editing before sending. Senders who don't want private replies and
can't express this in their creatively chosen or invalid "From" addresses alone
are often courteous enough (and smart enough) to say so in their signature,
to ward off any well-intentioned private replies that might be sent, for example,
if it's a late but useful reply to a thread to which the originator
might well not again return, hence otherwise might miss the benefit.
In a situation where a user can not choose how to express his own "From" address,
then you have to judge according to context, to previous relationship, to signature,
to group custom, or whatever else, but this is beyond TB's ability to know for sure,
which is why it ought to start by assuming that "Reply-to" means what it says.
without knowing whether "From" is even a legitimate or true address.
If TB ever didn't obey that rule, consider what would happen when I reply to you here,
where your address is specified as "putmyfullnamehere*******" --
unless I were to notice and manually edit that address before sending,
the message would certainly be going to a wrong (or invalid) address, so why should
an explicit "Reply-to" be defied and a possibly invalid address be substituted instead,
other than by my having to revert to manual action and pay attention to what I'm doing?
To summarize, TB is a general program used under many different conditions,
and the only safe and proper thing to do is to follow the rules
and use a "Reply-to" address for email, whenever it exists,
leaving any special-case exceptions for you to disengage the autopilot
and take personal control instead, manually overriding the rules,
and being willing to pay the fine if you make a bad judgment :)
There is such an option, in every known client,
which is to start a reply and then edit it to augment or override
the expected action of "Reply-to" to _never_ use the "From" address :)
Otherwise you'd be commonly breaking with the common understandings
of the RFCs, causing this to occur inadvertently many times,
by mistake, by careless or uninformed users,
you'd have mail going to addresses that don't even exist
(e.g. "Mailinator" addresses), to "Honeypots" (set to catch spammers),
or to people who don't want replies, or that would simply bounce,
you'd introduce the need to add even more choices, such as
"add 'From' address as an extra Bcc" vs. "Replace 'To' address
with 'From' instead of with 'Reply-to'," you'd still have to manually
edit various "From:" addresses that are permitted to be munged,
if the case was not identical to yours, and so forth.
There's a reason why cribs come with sides taller than the baby,
which is to keep those who can't yet walk from falling on their face,
or from crawling into other places they don't yet know enough about
to deal with properly, and most parents prefer a crib
than to let the unprepared child wander anywhere, completely unguided.
By the way, why don't auto makers add an extra button on the cruise control,
to automatically lower the cruise speed when a radar signal is detected,
and increase it again when the signal fades? Wouldn't that be great,
to save me from having to do that myself?
I'm not asking TB to use telepathy, it has to be a user selection. I
think it's fair to assume that a From address is genuine. I'm not asking
TB to guess, and the rule you refer to is a "suggestion" so it's valid
to override it.
"SUGGESTS". You're quoting RFCs as though it proves me wrong, but
actually it's supporting my POV.
Yes, but it's a valid POV.
I'm not suggesting that TB override the suggestion without user
intervention. This choice to override the default should be hard enough
to ensure that the user really did mean to do that, without being so
hard that it's annoying, or error prone.
Yes, but the 'rules' say "suggest". People who claim that it's always
wrong to reply to the 'From' are the ones doing the second-guessing,
because they're assuming that it's always wrong, when in fact, it's only
I have already pointed out that this method is possible, but somewhat
broken, because there is no "copy" function, only "copy email address".
This omits the RealName of the person, which is rude. If it were
possible to copy the full RealName+email, then this problem would be
greatly mitigated. It's nuts that I have to go "view source" to be able
to copy the entire string.
That was my original intention, although as it happens I realised that
it was actually rude to participate in a public discussion without
allowing for private messages, so I registered that hotmail address as
well. I use it as semi-disposable for newsgroup postings. You were smart
enough to interpret the string, so your BCC got my attention quickly
(thank you). If you had not been so smart, I would still have got the
message eventually (amongst the spam!).
You're still talking about "rules" as though the suggestion is an
imperative. The rules may be clear, but they clearly state that it's
just a suggestion.
< http://www.searchquotes.com/quotation/We_demand_rigidly_defi[..] !/223305/>
And I am very happy with taking personal control and manually overriding
the SUGGESTION CONTAINED IN THE rules and taking the consequences. As I
said, I want it to be hard enough to be a user choice, but not so hard
that it's annoying.
Have a look at the full headers of the next e-mail you get from the
list. That should answer a lot of your questions.
Not really. I admit there are new headers such as List-ID and the fancy
spam-proofing blocks that I'm not totally up to speed on, but basically
I'm familiar with them, and that's where I started. I understand what
the problem is very well, so my "questions" [sic] are more about the
strange limitations that Thunderbird has; and I'm not going to get an
answer to that from any headers.
Mike Easter has written on 9/27/2011 1:14 PM:
I'm on a list where that is the default!
The only thing I think fair to assume is what all the RFCs
(internet mail processing rules) state, which is that
when a "Reply-to" is specified, any reply should be to that,
and not to the "From" address -- this couldn't be more explicit,
so it would hardly suit any widely used email client
to defy the accepted rules by providing any menu function,
button, or otherwise built-in action to do otherwise.
In addition, it is fairer to assume that the "Reply-to" address
is genuine, since when it is given, the "From" address often isn't,
which again could lead to a widely used email client
offering an ill-advised alternative that will often result
in only bounced mail, or else in a message very rudely sent
to someone who used the standard means to tell everyone
not to send a reply to the original "From" address.
There is no standard for what mailing lists should do,
and your case is just a special case, despite it being done
by a large outfit (of poor quality) like Yahoo,
so I think it there is no call whatsoever for any general
email (plus newsgroup) client to incorporate non-standard
and RFC-defying action options into its standard GUI, in any form.
This still leaves you completely free to do whatever you want,
by changing anything before sending your reply,
so it keeps Thunderbird in line with defined internet rules,
without handcuffing you or restricting you in any way.
Then everything is just as it should be -- TB rightly provides
no built-in action to contradict the accepted and expected rules,
but lets you intervene as you wish.
Funny for you to try to hang such a weak argument on rudeness,
since ignoring "Reply-to" is normally pretty rude already.
I see that you already provided the solution to that one :)
Why don't you suggest just adding another "copy" menu choice,
e.g. "Copy name and email address," which by itself would not
be as blatant an RFC violation as a "Reply to From" action.
Someone may now pipe up to say "well, if he can have that,
can I also have just a 'Copy name, without email address'?"
and the lack of marginal utility of each extra menu item will become apparent.
Most people who use munged names naturally don't do that,
so again you are suggesting that TB do something which would
suit you alone, as a very special case.
It occurs to me that some forums and groups are implemented
in a kind of multiple format, where one can participate either on-line,
or via an NNTP news server, or via email, and the specific incoming headers
might possibly differ between some of these cases (plus a "message digest" case
for possible daily email summaries), so I can't see any cause for any
universal client to start adding special options for the many variations
which could arise -- as far as I'm concerned, a standard sink with
"hot" and "cold" water faucets doesn't need even one more "lukewarm"
faucet for someone who feels he shouldn't have to turn both of the other handles
(yes, I know there exist "one-handle" faucets, but I just can't pick
a better analogy at this moment :)
No matter what we argue here, I doubt that TB will emerge with added
RFC-defying built-in actions, but it has meanwhile provided a diversion
for occupying some time without accomplishing anything,
as is one of the functions of newsgroups -- to fill up Google's archives
and add to the sales of whoever sells storage to them :)
The RFC says SUGGESTS.
If you want to treat that suggestion as a commandment fine, but if you
can't think of a circumstance where replying confidentially would be
appropriate, then you have no imagination. "Reply-to" is just setting a
default action for the "reply" button - that's all. If it were
mandatory, it would say "Must".
Actually the From field is one of the few fields which is mandatory.
You're twisting things. "Very rudely" is how YOU feel about it, it's not
definitive. And the inclusion of a "reply to" field only says that the
reply should go somewhere by default, inferring that it should not go to
the 'From' address is mere speculation.
It is NOT "defying" the RFC. For the last time, it's a SUGGESTION.
However, your invalid email address DOES defy the RFC (at least for
email, I didn't check the news one) where it says "The "From:" field
specifies the author(s) of the message, that is, the mailbox(es) of the
person(s) or system(s) responsible for the writing of the message."
Replying to the "From" is NOT "contradict[ing] the accepted and expected
rules" it's choosing an alternative from the default SUGGESTION.
I honestly don't understand why you think choosing an alternative to the
suggestion is "pretty rude". I would say it was normally pointless,
because only one of the list members will read it, but it's not rude. Of
course the message could be rude, but that's another matter. The
recipient is going to get the message one way or another anyway, the
only difference is whether everyone else reads it too. There are plenty
of things you may wish to share with one person where it would be rude
to include everyone else too.
"Reply to From" would not be an RFC "violation" because it's only a
SUGGESTION. Are you bored with reading that yet? Because I'm sure bored
with typing it. And yes, that would help.
Only because you invented something of marginal utility.
In this case, I agree, but with the Yahoo! lists, the From address MUST
be valid, or the list owner will reject it.
Don't worry, I get the analogy (I'm not the kind of person who pick
holes "just because I can"). Really, it would be better if the "copy
email address" function copied the whole thing, because at least the
whole thing can easily be edited down to just the part the user wants.
It's harder to expand the email address to the whole thing! To use your
faucet analogy, it's better to have Hot and Cold, because you can at
least make lukewarm out of them, providing only lukewarm and cold is a
problem when you want hot.
I understand menu clutter, if it were up to me, I would have "Reply"
which did the default action, and "Reply to..." that had "All, List,
Sender, From" as advanced choices.
It's not "RFC defying" because it's only a SUGGESTION. Are you bored
with reading that yet? Because I'm sure bored with typing it.
It's sure wasted a lot of my time, when it's clear that there's no
solution forthcoming. I may choose not to answer you if you post again.
Speaking of which, if we are going to start quoting as law, RFC5322
(which obsoletes 2822 quoted here) says, in part "In all cases, the
"From:" field SHOULD NOT contain any mailbox that does not belong to the
author(s) of the message."
Idioten aangeboden. Gratis af te halen.
h/t Dagelijkse Standaard
ICBM Data: http://g.co/maps/e5gmy
"Required" fields are required to be present,
perhaps even to be syntactically correct, but not to be "genuine."
In certain special messages (responses to MDN requests),
a "return path" (the argument of the smtp "MAIL FROM:" command)
is actually required to be empty, but that's a special case,
just like the special case of not honoring "Reply-to"
[Quoting an RFC]
".invalid" is intended for use in online construction of domain names
that are sure to be invalid and which it is obvious at a glance are invalid.
< http://tools.ietf.org/rfc/rfc2606.txt> >
[Quoting my news server's site]
"You can use the top-level domain .invalid ...
Such addresses do not disturb and pollute regular name space
and can easily be identified as invalid by both humans and machines."
As to "suggestions," most of what makes the internet work
are exactly that -- few drafts become "standards,"
but fortunately, most software authors know how to take the hint :)
The very title of the RFC documents conveys this:
< http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Request_for_Comments> >
"The RFC tradition of pragmatic, experience-driven,
after-the-fact standards authorship accomplished by individuals
or small working groups can have important advantages over the more formal,
committee-driven process typical of ISO and national standards bodies."
I'm glad to hear you won't reply any longer,
since Thunderbird does "take the hints" from RFCs,
is obviously perfectly logical about "Reply-to" logic
(it just simply and literally does as requested),
and wisely avoids encouraging users to do the opposite,
letting anyone edit whatever they like to make special exceptions
(which I grant will be desired in some small minority of situations,
much as a cruise control will need to be disengaged on some rough terrain),
without encouraging those exceptions to be inappropriately used
in the majority of normal cases.
Find us any program for mail or newsgroups which has a separate "reply to 'from'"
action that you propose, to show us anyone else in the field of such software
who agrees with your suggestion to provide that contradictory and rare action
as if a more or less equally normal choice in software -- all the rest do not,
and I suspect their verdict is "by acclamation," if not 100% unanimous.
Designed to disapprove of a deceit in which a valid email address
within a domain is inserted as a "forgery" to deceive others into
accepting (past spam filters) or opening malicious attachments, etc.,
and which also creates "back-scatter" to the forged address
from any automated replies.
Forgers are of course not directly discouraged by the statement of such
a principle, but ISPs and other mailers or administrators are encouraged
to verify return addresses and require verified logins for sending mail,
to reduce the frequency of such forgeries, and are penalized by an ad hoc
anti-spam industry if they fail to sufficiently well police themselves.
Domain names (e.g. "xxx.invalid") specifically defined as non-existent
(by RFC2606) are for the alternate purpose of preventing the collection
("harvesting") of posted email addresses for purposes of spamming or malice,
and are designed to be openly obvious to both people and software,
even as a courtesy to real people.
It's not the first time that multiple principles are in tension and balance,
due to their each being designed to avoid abuse of the other.
Ahem, the very phrase "SHOULD NOT" (seen above) has its own RFC:
"Key words for use in RFCs to Indicate Requirement Levels" http://tools.ietf.org/html/rfc2119
4. SHOULD NOT This phrase, or the phrase "NOT RECOMMENDED" mean that
there may exist valid reasons in particular circumstances when the
particular behavior is acceptable or even useful, but the full
implications should be understood and the case carefully weighed
before implementing any behavior described with this label.
Philosophically, note how the un-capitalized word "should"
inevitably creeps into the definition of capitalized "SHOULD,"
and that this document itself, like the majority of RFCs,
"requests discussion and suggestions for improvements,"
although the internet community is expected to agree,
to make for a smoothly running global Internet,
as when one's mother instructs one to "please say PLEASE" :)
I understand the desire for spam-proofing.
I have no intention of rallying support or rehashing the information
that's already in this thread. Either you get it, or you don't.
And you obviously don't.
Let me try to make a quick summary (digest)
of the single main point I joined this thread to make:
If there was a request for TB to add a special action
"Reply to From" to the already usual list of actions
"Reply," "Reply to all," "Reply to newsgroup," "Reply to sender only"
then I think it's not a suitable thing
to add any such "reply to from" to the list of standard actions
because every usual "Reply" action that's normally provided
should already, by default, replace a "From" address
with a "Reply-to" override, if the latter has been supplied,
to set up the reply template before editing begins,
which is what the latter is always intended to do,
which in turn is why all normal mail/news handlers do it.
Exceptions to any standard set-up action, if desired, or any other detailed changes
(add or delete individual recipients, add or move them to Bcc, add newsgroups, etc.)
can be made by editing, adding or removing any headers in numerous ways,
after the default original action is first set up in the intended way,
and I think it would put the normal cases at risk of making mistakes
to start inserting exceptional set-up actions right alongside the normal actions
(there are also even too many possibilities of all conceivable exceptions).
Mailing lists may well create more occasions for one to decide
to edit or change recipients before sending replies,
but unless there's a special program or a special section
of this program to deal specifically with mailing lists,
with a separate set of actions,
I think the standard actions for setting up replies to begin editing
are complete and proper, and should be left alone.
If someone says that copying some info from incoming headers
is inconvenient, then improve the convenience, if reasonable,
but I don't think the place for that is to add non-standard actions
to the normal standard ones, nor to make any exceptions
to what standard reply set-up actions normally do, before editing even begins.
"View source" seems to me a very convenient way to present
all information that anyone could ever wish to be able to copy,
but if it distresses someone to even bother using "view source,"
or objects to other "copy" actions built into the original header area,
I think it inappropriate to add risks for others' normal use to make up for that.
Does anyone remember who Lyndon B Johnson (LBJ) was?
He became President of the United States of America after JFK's assassination.
who had a special button installed on the desk in the White House's Oval Office
which would summon his military aide to bring the drink.
If you're President of the United States, so busy and with so much responsibility,
I suppose you can rate a special button for such a special function,
but I think it not warranted to add special buttons to Thunderbird for everyone else :)
< http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fresca#History> > [reference for LBJ quote]
I'm highly skeptical of the Goodwin LBJ/Fresca story's accuracy. I would
believe a lot more radical and dark LBJ stories before that one.
Seen on the Snopes bulletin board^1; LBJ had a Fresca spigot on the
White House desk; -or- LBJ had two buttons on the desk, one for coffee,
one for Fresca.
I've seen an old photo before the days of blatant PhotoShopping of LBJ
driving down a Texas FM (farm to market) road tossing out a Lone Star
^1 http://message.snopes.com/showthread.php?t=2773 Soda tap in LBJ's desk
UCLAN, replies like that are really uncalled for. Remember that we're
here to help each other use Thunderbird.
Chris Ilias < http://ilias.ca> >
Mailing list/Newsgroup moderator
I imagine that the authors of TB intended for there to be an option to
reply to the author of the message. Whether this got broken because
"sender" can also be a message relaying function, or because Yahoo
groups sets the group itself as the sender I don't know, but I doubt it
was broken intentionally.
Imagine you are sent out on a job with a standard toolkit that consists
of a hammer, a chisel and a pair of pliers. You never use the hammer or
the pliers, and the only time you use the chisel is when you need to
kludge a screwdriver. You would question the sanity of your foreman,
especially if he insisted that everyone had the same standard toolkit,
and it was sufficient. That is how I feel.
I understand the conceptual cleanness of starting with the default; but
it doesn't have to be that way. Providing the user has to make a
conscious decision to choose an alternative to the default, that is
sufficient: it is not necessary to start down the wrong path and
back-track just to make a point. They don't even have to be "right
alongside" as you say... they can be one step removed. I would actually
favour a system where you had "reply" and "reply special..." which
required an extra dialog box or menu depth to choose which
out-of-the-ordinary action you needed.
Well, since you don't give any reason for your opinion, I feel at
liberty to not give you any reason why I disagree with you ;-)
Perhaps we agree here... if the "copy email address" function copied the
whole thing, I would be pretty happy. This is another case of the menu
being littered with pointless options while leaving out what matters. I
don't see that "copy email address" has any purpose whatsoever.
You make it sound very reasonable, and it would be, but for the fact
that there's no easy way to choose to add the author as the recipient
and deleting the extraneous ones is probably the smoothest way to
achieve this aim.
You and others have directed a fair amount of time, and between you some
considerable intellect towards persuading me that what I'm asking is
inappropriate, and I'm quite curious to know why. I feel that open
source software should aim to be "all things to all people" and should
not try to force opinions or coerce behaviour - that is the domain of
Microsoft and their ilk. Since this is occasionally a needed function
(and no, it doesn't go against the RFC), I want to know what hidden
agenda pushes you to try to persuade me in the other direction.
Rather than post multiple times, I'd like to also address a point that
someone else made, namely implying that when someone has chosen to add a
"reply to" field, then it's rude of me to defy that. The point is that
the "reply to" field is set automatically by Yahoo groups (if the group
owner sets it up that way) simply so that the default "reply" action is
to continue the conversation in public. This is vastly different from a
person deliberately instructing a reply to go elsewhere.
If you write me an email, and direct that your reply should go to your
secretary for attention, then it would be rude of me to override that
(unless there was a good reason for it). But in this case, the author of
the post did NOT set the "reply to" field personally, so there is no
request from the author not to be contacted by email. It doesn't really
matter what level of rudeness is implied by the RFC concerned, there's
no fine control on the level of compulsion to follow a "reply to", it's
either there, or it isn't. I'm being intelligent and polite and acting
on the actual situation, not doggedly following a generalised
"suggestion" made years ago when the field was created.
P.S. I previously put down a suggestion to use "compose mail to" and
then "quote message" because it lost the references and the subject
line. While I've been thinking about this, I've actually thought that
you could make a case for this being correct. The logic would be that if
you are replying to the author outside of the normal thread - i.e. a
sort of meta-reply, then you could argue that there should indeed be a
new subject line and a new thread because it IS a new thread. In other
words, if the thread is about 'the price of gas', then the reply to the
author is about 'your post about the price of gas' and not about the
price of gas itself. I might even go with this, since it's got a certain
logic to it. So, thanks 'UCLAN', I'll try working with that.
Happy Thanksgiving to everyone in Canada!
Of course, and for email this standard action is called "Reply,"
which already exists,
and of course its default is to obey "Reply-to," which, if present,
is a specific request to reply to the author (or list) at a specified different address,
which is how the reply template gets set up, ready for you to start editing.
Even with mailing lists (and newsgroups), many authors do not want
off-list individual replies, and it's not TB's job to second-guess that.
For newsgroups, choices are offered to reply to sender only,
to newsgroup only, or to both, but "reply to newsgroup"
means to the newsgroup name(s), rather than to an email address,
and reply to sender is still subject to honoring any "Reply-to"
which the sender supplied, as is its one and only purpose.
In the case of some systems, such as this newsgroup itself,
which use both mailings and newsgroup postings as alternate
distribution vehicles, each one might carry a "Reply-to" of its own,
which would be the only one to use except in unusual circumstances.
There's nothing "broken" about it, except in your own mind,
because every "reply-to" is where an email reply should normally go;
that's what it's defined for, and that's how even Yahoo uses it.
Of course there's an easy way -- click on "From" in the incoming message
and choose "copy email address," as you've already acknowledged knowing,
or the other choice (with different threading implications) "Compose [new] Message to"
(which seems more suited anyway to "off-list" replies,
and even happens to include the full name).
You have "made a production" out of this by complaining that
"copy email address" doesn't copy "name and email address," but in my Thunderbird,
I don't even see my own name or address listed when I review incoming messages,
so even if I were so vain as to feel slighted if my full name
were not prefixed to my email address, I wouldn't even see that anyway,
and in fact I _prefer_ incoming mail to show just my email address
(because I use many different addresses),
so I consider the fuss being made to be "much ado about nothing,"
like the "Seinfeld" show -- "The continuing misadventures
of neurotic New York stand-up comedian Jerry Seinfeld
and his equally neurotic New York friends" :)
< http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0098904/> >
"The most important difference between Seinfeld and other sitcoms prior to this
is that the principal characters [in Seinfeld] never learned their moral lessons
throughout the seasons. In effect, they were indifferent to the outside world..."
< http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seinfeld> >
As indifferent, perhaps, as asking for a standard action to ignore explicit "Reply-to"
I would still love to know why you care SO MUCH about the absence of
this function to keep battling on about it, with, in my opinion, twisted
"standard" - no, I want it to be one level deeper, as an exception. Yes,
I want it to be there, but it's an exception, so saying I'm asking for
"standard" is twisty.
"ignore" - no, it's not ignoring; ignoring is a failure to consider.
Perhaps you consider what is appropriate and choose something other than
the default, that may be the correct decision. Attaching the label
"ignore" to that choice very much makes it sound like a bad decision, or
one made without considering all the information. That's twisty.
"explicit" - this word makes it sound like the author chose to direct
replies elsewhere himself. In many cases he didn't; it was applied by
the group. The author will normally be happy to receive information
privately where it is inappropriate to share it publicly. Using the word
"explicit" ramps up the perception of rudeness in the alternative
choice, where no rudeness exists. That is twisty.
I would love to know what is the real reason that you care so much about
this option that you apply such spin in your responses.
P.S. I don't watch American TV.
Ditto to you, sir!
It's simply a direct non-compliance with the meaning (and even presence)
of "Reply-to" to have any sort of "Reply to sender" action at all
which does NOT use the "Reply-to" address -- this is as simple and direct
as anything can possibly get, and any universal consensus observed
in all other email programs ought to indicate that it is
(a) The general understanding of an entire industry, and therefore
(b) Out of place for TB to do otherwise.
That's exactly what it already is -- if you don't want to send to
the address specified by normal rules,
then insert the specific address you want instead.
Students of Murphy's Law already know that if you place any button
within reach that says "push to explode a bomb," then someone will push it,
without even reading, thinking that it was some other sort of normal button.
However, we should perhaps ask you to give us your specific interface design
for this "one level deeper" case, so that we can see how you'd handle that,
so that we can see your proposal turned into a visualizable reality,
and compare it with simply inserting the address you want before sending,
to see whether your proposal adds anything of value.
Are there any professional "Human Factors" experts in the audience,
to add their expertise here?
And I'd love to know what propels you to want to defeat the clear
edict to assume a response goes to "Reply-to" when it exists,
and to be so dissatisfied with the alternative, already quite
accepted and standardized across this industry, that if you don't want
to reply there, then just insert some other address?
I consider you to be the overwhelming source of "spin" here.
then you can copy that address (which may not even be the "From" address)
directly from that message into a reply yourself;
otherwise, anyone who uses a mailing list without understanding
that by default, all messages go to the list,
exactly as was his own message, just doesn't know what (s)he's doing.
When an author says either "reply only to list"
or "please send info to me at xyz@example,net"
then we do know what the author really wants;
otherwise we generally don't know,
but if you think you do, just insert the address into the message --
it's that simple, and needs no complications to an existing interface.
And that is what OP wants changed. He thinks there should be an easy way
to send a reply to the address of the poster, not the list. Well, I
don't think so. The reason I've joined lists in the past is precisely
that I don't want direct replies. On the rare occasions that I do invite
an off-list reply , I'll provide an address, my "public" one, which I
don't mind being compromised. It's easy to change an address. From my
POV, one advantage of a list over a newsgroup is that it's difficult to
send a reply to the composer of a post. The list is the Sender, not the
For newsgroups, TBird already provides "Reply to Sender" as an option.
I'm grateful to all of you who don't use it, and have been annoyed when
some posters (using a different reader, I guess) automatically copy
their posts to the sender. Some people perceive this as a courtesy, most
(including me) perceive it as an intrusion. That's why many people
provide dummy reply-to addresses for newsgroups. I did this on a Linux
NG because for some reason Linux attracts deformed personalities as
Instead of "Reply to sender only", "Reply to All" and "Reply to List" I
would have "Reply" (which would be the default reply action) and "Reply
to..." which would open a sub-menu with "All", "List" and "Author only".
That would ensure that the standard reply was more easily clickable by
your bomb-guy than an exceptional action.
I'll be honest, I don't see the purpose of "Reply to sender" since in
every case I've seen, it's only a duplication of something else. This is
why I postulated that it was a broken attempt to implement "Reply to
author". I choose the word "Author" because "reply to from" sounds
silly, and "reply to sender" means the wrong thing due to that
technicality that the list is the sender. If "Reply to sender" actually
had a purpose, then it would have to be there as well, of course.
P.S. one of the reasons I'm still continuing this is because, if you
were a lone voice then I would just ignore you, but there are several
respondents like you who seem to be allergic to personal replies - I'm
not insensitive, if there are many of you then there must be something
in what you say: but I'm at a loss to understand it. What on earth is
rude about getting a personal email??? You're going to get the message
in your inbox anyway, the only difference is what the recipient list is,
and whether other people saw the same message. I can see many ways that
sharing information with others could be rude, but I can't see how /not/
sharing it could be rude. If you could help me understand this anomaly,
it would help me to go away happy.
Seems to me "List" and "Author Only" would be the same, as the message
came to you from the List.
He's not a lone voice. I too do not want to receive personal emails from
newsgroup or list posters. Never have, never will. But if you do, publish
your address in the body of your post and ask for personal replies. Your
sig text would be a good spot for that.
You are overlooking one important facet of this discussion. That of
getting your personal email address made visible in thousands of other
peoples' computers -- and subject to spambot harvesting and email
flooding from any of those computers whose owners have allowed them to
become infected/infested with mass-mailing bots. It's quite common,
It happened to me in the past. A guy in Alberta, Canada had one of my
personal addresses on his computer, in his address book ("add everyone I
reply to to my address book!") and I started getting virus-laden emails
from him daily. For a year! No thank you.
-This space for rent, but the price is high
Once upon a time many moons ago, I used to include a valid Reply-To addy
in my usenet newsgroup posts, since that header is 'never' subject to
XOVER spambots (because the reply-to is 'never' in the overview, except
on the rare occasions when it has been put there by a news admin for
The problem with my doing that was that some people would want to send
me a personal email to (further) discuss some issue which had arisen in
Since I don't correspond with those emailers about newsgroup issues,
then I would 'have to' post a message into the newsgroup to explain all
of my reasons that the newsgroup was a better place to discuss the
issue, not personal pen-pal email, while not disclosing the content of
the private email, because that is another netiquette issue between
email and newsgroups.
Your concept of a 'group'/forum like this is that it is (like) a mailing
list, but my concept of a group like this is that it is *not* a mailing
list at all and there are /no/ messages in this group which end up in my
In a group like this, there are a great (*GREAT*) many more lurkers than
participants. Some of those lurkers are relatively uninformed newbies
who have a myriad of questions in their mind, but they are inhibited
about posting for various reasons.
(And) Some of those lurkers are very well informed gurus who have a
myriad of /answers/ in their mind, but they choose to 'not bother' with
answering most of the time unless they become motivated, such as to
And there are all manner of other lurkers in between who are reading but
not posting. That is what makes a *public* discussion forum; all
different kinds, all different propensity to post and participate as
opposed to lurking only.
When 'we' (tinw -thereisnowe) start conversing about something, our
conversation should develop in the /group/ (not in email) where both the
uninformed and the better informed lurkers can see the question and the
answer, and some of the informed have an opportunity to correct any
misinformation which may be shared.
The other problem with newsgroup and email conversation in general is
that there is very often some kind of 'misunderstanding'
when there are more eyeballs on the content, there is more opportunity
for correcting any misinformation.
The other advantage to a question and answer process developing in the
newsgroup rather than personal email is that the _answerer_ gets an
opportunity to be corrected and learn something not just a 'one way
sucking sound' in the email of the less informed learning some little
something from the better informed.
And then there is the issue of one conversation leading to another in
email. There is no need for 'etiquette' in simply dropping out of a
newsgroup conversation, whereas there is a bit of etiquette involved in
not answering one's email correspondents.
There are more reasons than that for not taking newsgroup conversations
to email, but I'll hold for now.
x-posted and f/ups to .general
There ix another problem with this particular situation, ie the Tbird
support group on the moz server.
This group is moderated, and the moderator would like for the newsgroup
discussions to stay on the topic of Tbird; while/but the moderator
allows topics which have drifted away from 'actual' Tbird support to
take place in mozilla.general (instead of private email for those who
eschew private mail for these types of drifting conversations.)
So, I'm cross-posting this to mozilla.general and setting followups to
there. I think any replies to my previous reply should also go to
.general, since it has drifted away from Tbird support.
It goes without saying that one doesn't send e-mail to people who
don't want e-mail.
How you manage to leap frothing from there to the opinion that it
should be extremely difficult to send e-mail to people who do want
e-mail escapes me.
joy beeson at comcast dot net
This somewhat off-topic debate developed because the OP was about a
yahoo group which was configured *requiring* the participants to not be
able to conceal their email address.
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Ottawa_RecyclingBB/?tab=s - Group Settings
... Members cannot hide email address
IMO a group should be configured so that all members addresses are
hidden and those members who /want/ to expose their email address
somewhere such as in the body to invite personal email from any other
list member would be a 'positive' action.
Automating the dispersal of all of the group members to all of the other
group members is worse than a social spam to scores of 'friends' whose
addresses are all in the To:/CC: instead of the BCC.
Naturally if the social networking oriented person who wants to be
emailed by any and all in the group has/puts their address in the body,
it requires a specific click to get that address somewhere to email, as
opposed to a From or Reply-To.
Guys, I don't see how this discussion is any longer helpful to people in
their use of Thunderbird. Please take it somewhere else.
Chris Ilias < http://ilias.ca> >
Mailing list/Newsgroup moderator
I chose the word "author" since there is some legitimate confusion over
I'm sure you know that. I recognise the trick of pretending to
misunderstand, and I'll live with it, but WHY are you doing that? What
is your objective?
With the Yahoo! groups, the messages come From: one email address and
arrive at your inbox (unless you're daft enough to browse them on the
web and let them serve dumb ads to you). Whether the message comes
through the list, or directly to you, it looks the same, has the same
From, only the recipient is different (either your email address, or the
list address). If I take a list message, and change the recipient from
the list to your personal email address, how does it suddenly become
You are overlooking the fact that how you reply doesn't change this one
iota. The moment you post to the list, every recipient gets your email
address in the "From" field. You cannot use a fake email address, which
is why most people use 'disposable' ones. Thus, it's not an "important
facet of this discussion". It's not even an unimportant facet. It's
Who is "pretending to misunderstand?" Certainly not me.
Sorry, I don't have any yahoo groups. I thought we were discussing mozilla
I don't want personal email from newsgroup/list people. If you do, go
You must be speaking about the yahoo thing again. You don't see a real
address from me here, do you? And probably not from you either...
-This space for rent, but the price is high
Thank you for the detailed explanation; I actually *do* get where you're
coming from. In practice, I wouldn't have a problem telling someone to
"post it to the list" where appropriate, and I would politely drop out
of an email conversation I didn't want, but none of that matters, the
point is, at least you have a valid reason.
second-guess." Although your concerns are valid, I don't think it's
appropriate to 'fail to provide' useful functions in TB in an attempt to
of coercion is very Microsoft'y and has no place in open source software.
We will probably have to "agree to differ" since we use TB in different
circumstances and have different needs.
Thank you for your time. (Honestly.)
[Note to Chris: I think we still have some educational value here,
which is still specific to email client design, understanding, and use,
and I'm sure you'll let me know whether you agree or not :]
"Reply-to-list" is grayed out for every message I've ever received,
is based on a non-universal "List-post:" header,
and is discussed in this long and complex bug report:
< https://bugzilla.mozilla.org/show_bug.cgi?id=528039> >
Relevant RFCs that may be mentioned in the above:
< http://tools.ietf.org/html/rfc5322> > Internet Message Format 
< http://tools.ietf.org/html/rfc2369> > List-xxxx headers 
RFC2369 says nothing about locating any "author,"
but only about an alternate way of specifying how to post to a list.
If TB uses only "Sender" (see bug report) and "List-post" headers, when available,
then nothing ambiguous could occur anyway (except that "Sender"
could still be someone else, who submits a message for an actual "author")
but "Sender" isn't even required, just as "List-post" isn't,
so for all of my mailing lists, the only things upon which any
"odd reply-to logic" could be based are "From" and "Reply-to" headers.
The entire internet, meanwhile, has many other mailing lists.
No mailing list to which I subscribe uses a "List-post" header,
nor a "Sender" header (see bug report), but only a "List-ID" header,
described in < http://tools.ietf.org/html/rfc2919> >
which contains NO email address(es), so in what follows, I am ignoring any headers
other than From/To/Cc/Reply-to, as well as any "Reply to list" action in TB.
The problem is that a computer program can see only the presence
or absence of a "reply-to" header, and can hardly be expected to be able
to discern whether any specific email address is that of a single person,
or of a list of people, or might even (to a human) be obviously invalid,
despite the wishful predictions that your menu labels suggest could be made,
one prediction being that of being able to distinguish all "mailing list" emails
from other emails in the first place, and the second prediction being,
assuming that even the first thing could be known for sure, that of being able to
guess whether other addresses (From/Reply-to) are each single persons vs. entire lists,
which is what seems to confuse confuses attempts to reply "to author" vs. "to list,"
in the aforementioned bug report.
In some case that I think someone already piped up to say, for example,
didn't some known mailing list supply both a "From" header and a "Reply-to" header,
but actually reverse what your special case assumes,
giving a single person's address in "Reply-to" and a list address in "From"?
Even a single case like that would pretty much doom your theoretical menu,
for how could you know or predict, if a choice was even available,
which address was which, to match each with "list" vs. "author"?
In other cases of incoming mail in general, neither "From" nor "Reply to"
belongs to a list, sometimes "From" is deliberately invalid or a spam-trap "honey pot"
with a valid "Reply-to" being an individual, and other possibilities also exist,
so how can your imagined menu really even discern (and then properly label)
such a variety of possibilities, no less be able to automatically know
what to do next -- e.g. will it automatically "un-munge" any addresses
which authors may have supplied to defeat non-human responders,
will it recognize whether a valid (or munged) "reply-to" has been offered
with an invalid "From" as a first line of defense, etc?
I therefore think that what you have suggested is wishful thinking,
unaccompanied by realistic appreciation of the impossibility of actually doing it,
consistently, other than by a leap in artificial intelligence not yet generally available
to the Thunderbird developers, or only for special lists that rely on other headers,
unless making assumptions that fit special cases, but may fail in many other situations.
Backing up just one step, the only two thus far common and normally available
reply options found in general email clients are:
(a) Reply including the "To:" and "Cc:" addresses (a/k/a "Reply All")
(b) Reply not including "To:" and "Cc:" (a/k/a just "Reply" or "to author")
In either case (a) or case (b), the client normally obeys the rule
that the address other than To & Cc to reply to should be taken from "Reply-to"
if that header was supplied, otherwise the "From" address -- note that
this applies equally to "Reply All" or "Reply," so if you want to further
start adding any choice of whether to use or to ignore a "Reply-to" header,
it seems to me that you'd logically need to split each of (a) and (b)
into two cases each, giving four actual initial cases thus far.
As for whether we might want to utilize "Bcc" for some particular address,
instead of a more visible header, and/or decide which address(es)
should move into a "Cc" header, we could get into ridiculously too many
possible combinations to consider even enumerating, which might lead us
to consider whether to at least stop after four original choices,
and leave it to the user to proceed any further during editing,
rather than trying to use more initial choices
only to do some of his editing in advance.
Someone might suggest some brand new paradigm instead, such as:
( ) Reply to specific_address_1 ("reply-to" address)
( ) Reply to specific_address_2 ("from" address)
[ ] Also include all "To" and "Cc" addresses (i.e. "to all")
In the above, I mean the first two lines to represent "radio buttons"
and the last line to be an extra check box, the first two lines of course
specifically identifying which address came from an original "reply to"
and which was the original "from," so that the user could be aware
when violating the standard action, without having to use AI
to guess anything about either being a "list" and the other being
an "original author," since we know that this is already impossible
to automatically determine.
So, how appealing is this creative new design,
reducing four original necessary "reply" choices down to three?
It seems to me that the best strategy is to stick to the original
set of only two options, doing exactly what is already done now,
also as suggested by < http://tools.ietf.org/html/rfc2369> #section-5>
"On the client side, there may be some concern with posts or commands
being sent in error. It is required that the user have a chance to
confirm any action before it is executed. ... it may be appropriate
to create the correctly formatted message without sending it,
allowing the user to see exactly what is happening, and giving the user
the opportunity to approve or discard the message before it is sent."
(and then I think reversed yourself about accepting it):
It is trivially easy for a human to see, and to copy
(then possibly also need to further edit) the address
of what (s)he recognizes as one person; the only difficulty
is for a computer program to recognize any of these different situations,
thus essentially always needing the human to step in and get personally involved.
Again, I think that to introduce more "reply" options, to try (often wrongly)
to anticipate one bit of the frequently necessary editing,
is not feasible, based on the above (including the bug report).
Even introducing more "copy" options seems marginal in utility,
but at least preferable to any more "reply" options
(note that "Compose message to" is still a simple way to obtain
the entire "name and address[es]" of any "from" field,
without needing to add anything new).
Designing (or even suggesting) modifications for any system
would likely be wisest if we looked most deeply into the whole thing,
from all angles, before we start redesigning one piece in total isolation,
knowing just a little part of the entire background of the design.
I don't know whether "american" authors are as foreign as "american" TV,
"When I was a boy of 14, my father was so ignorant
I could hardly stand to have the old man around.
But when I got to be 21,
I was astonished at how much the old man had learned in seven years."
If Mark Twain didn't actually say exactly that,
I can only imagine that he would have wished to,
just like the slightly improved posthumous version of
"The reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated." 
http://quoteinvestigator.com/2010/10/10/twain-father/ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mark_Twain http://www.twainquotes.com/Death.html
The New York Times, May 5, 1907
"that I will make an exhaustive investigation of this report
that I have been lost at sea. If there is any foundation for the report,
I will at once apprise the anxious public. I sincerely hope that there is
no foundation for the report, and I also hope that judgment will be suspended
until I ascertain the true state of affairs." http://www.twainquotes.com/19070505.html
As far as I can tell, that has already been established, and you two are
now just arguing about opinion.
If you disagree, email me instead of continuing this thread.
Chris Ilias < http://ilias.ca> >
Mailing list/Newsgroup moderator
Thank you for the detailed answer, I did read it, however I'm done with
this now that Mike Easter has eloquently described to me why you guys
care so much about this issue.
I will continue to fudge it by using "Reply All" and erasing the
Regarding reply options, I feel quite strongly that "Reply to Sender"
should do what *normal people* would understand by that, IOW reply back
to the person that tapped the keys (the guy in the From field) and not
send it elsewhere with weasel arguments like "Oh, but 'reply to' is
really important, you know" or "If you check RFC-xxxx it says that the
sender might be my secretary" or "Ah, well /technically/ the sender is
the list" or other crap like that; if it says "reply to sender" it
should darn well reply to sender. Thank you.
Your desire is completely understandable and proper,
but your one conclusion (in parentheses) needs further examination,
because it's based on just certain observations of cases where it's true,
which you encounter a lot, but there are other people who encounter
those cases where it's false -- where the "person who tapped the keys"
has his true address only in "Reply-to," or sometimes needs
really careful study of ALL the headers to figure out,
plus some additional subsequent mandatory editing to correct
(as I just had to do to send you a copy of what I'm posting),
leaving no way for "one conclusion to fit all cases."
If a facility were available for each person to create personal
menu items or buttons for himself, it would be good and proper
for you to install anything, for yourself, that fit your personal environment,
but to install items that are fixed and unchangeable for everyone
would serve some users and dis-serve others, which is not that good.
I would therefore modify what you ask for, perhaps then file
an "enhancement request" in Bugzilla, for TB to add something
more general than what you started to propose,
so that it could work correctly for everyone.
Maybe a little bit more pure "logic" offered here might help
(that's the subject, pure "logic," and that's all that I'm supplying,
not any of the "social aspects" that Mike Easter talks about :)
A TB newsgroup account already has a "Reply to sender only" action,
in the "Message" menu only, meaning "not to the news server,"
still called just plain "Reply" in the message header area button,
but I see that (in TB 3.1.x) a mail account still refrains from
sticking any such longer label on the "Reply" option,
even in the "Message" menu,
and I'm going to try to show why it can't, if you can bear with me.
I'm going to try to explain why even a "list-aware" client can legitimately
offer a "Reply to List" action, yet can not legitimately offer a
"Reply to Sender" action to match it, as natural as it may be
for us to assume that being able to do one of these
should also make it possible to do the other.
Remembering that the subject contains the word "logic,"
I spent at least an hour, writing my previous post,
very logically explaining (or so I thought) that
it is impossible for a less than human-brained (or heavily AI-equipped)
computer program to discern whether any particular email address
is an individual, vs. a list, vs. an invalid address, etc.,
and that between the pair of headers called "From" and "Reply-to"
(when both are present), EITHER one or NEITHER one could be
"the person that tapped the keys," and EITHER one or NEITHER one
could be the address of a group list of recipients -- in one case
it may even have been declared that for some list,
the roles of these two headers had been exchanged;
it is perfectly valid for this to be so, in any case, thus:
THERE IS NO WAY FOR A NON-HUMAN to deterministically predict this,
nor to be able to know how to fulfill your ultimate desire WITHOUT YOUR PERSONAL HELP,
in the form of having to evaluate ALL possible candidates for your "To:" header
(or "Bcc" in some cases, such as I use in newsgroup emailed additional copies,
since "To" gets posted to all, which is another decision that TB can't make
for me) and to select the right one only _after_ such a thorough evaluation.
Even if your particular diet of Yahoo groups (and even my own lists)
leads you to keep making one particular decision,
that decision can't be right for everyone and for all incoming messages,
and Thunderbird should not be misleading anyone into thinking so,
by having anything labeled "Reply to Sender" ever appear ANYWHERE --
perhaps change newsgroup-account action "Reply to Sender only" into
"Reply by MAIL only" (the only truly accurate meaning)
to make sure that no one can be misled into thinking
that a similar action was accidentally omitted
when it comes to email accounts.
Other clients that are familiar to me are totally logical and never misleading,
by using as names of actions only what they can assure to be so -- they say
"Reply to all" to indicate the inclusion of original "To" and "Cc" recipients in the reply,
and they say only "Reply" to indicate that those extras won't be included
(for newsgroups, "Reply by MAIL" would be equivalent to "Reply" for a mail-only account).
Other than the different treatment of TO+CC,
the actions "Reply to All" and "Reply" are IDENTICAL, and since no client
_splits_ each of these two original actions into two more possibilities
(honor "Reply-to" or don't), and since "don't honor Reply-to" is a bit
disrespectful of what's expected by general rules about what headers mean,
BOTH "standard actions" that apply to all mail in general do honor "Reply-to"
(if present), which everyone (senders and recipients alike) knows, expects,
and counts on being how the composition window will start out being set up,
although the HUMAN who is composing the reply is then free to start applying
a higher level of personal judgment than Thunderbird can itself supply.
Not even the brilliant folks at Gmail go any further; in fact,
if both "Reply" and "Reply all" would produce the identical result,
they _reduce_ the available choices to only one: "Reply" -- that is,
Gmail's pull-down list next to the uppermost "Reply" button,
as well as the list of actions at the very bottom of a message,
includes "Reply to all" only when it would actually make a difference!
More significantly, I can find no message
where even brilliant Gmail ever claims to me
that it can logically offer me a thing called "Reply to Sender."
In my own limited diet of mailing lists,
most "From:" also just happens to be individuals,
and most "Reply-to" just happens to be the mailing list,
rather than an equally common case, particularly for news accounts,
of "From" being an anti-spam address
and "Reply-to" being the sender's true address
(it would also be possible and legit if "From" were the list address
and "Reply-to" were the user's personal address, depending on
the policy and purpose of the particular list).
Perhaps that's why the only "action" choices
I've ever seen being offered by Gmail are: Reply, Forward,
or "Reply to All" (the latter sometimes suppressed when redundant),
leaving it to me to PERSONALLY edit headers if I can figure out how
to do anything that Gmail doesn't yet seem to know how to predict for me.
Are they somehow smarter at Mozilla Messaging than at Gmail?
If not, I think that TB is already as smart as possible,
and we can't add anything else that it doesn't already have.
It is elsewhere suggested that "mailing list aware" programs
could offer more possibilities. The RFCs I previously located
(to which I posted links) discuss how, optionally, mailing lists
could add headers specifically named "List-xxxx" (where "xxxx"
is one of a limited set of possibilities).
Among those possibilities is found one that, if used,
can allow an email client to be completely definite about
what address can be used to send mail to the entire list,
thus enabling a "Reply to List" action to justifiably be added
(or enabled) as a third menu choice for "reply" actions,
as you see in Thunderbird, but it's grayed out if an original
"List-post" header, the only header that can assure this, isn't found.
I don't see, however, where any RFC provides for a definite way
that any client can ever be sure how to claim
or logically justify an action called "Reply to Sender,"
which STILL is a hit or miss matter that can not,
with complete generality, be predicted.
So I believe that THIS IS AS FAR AS LOGIC CAN GO, and also that
REPLY and REPLY TO ALL must be fundamentally IDENTICAL as to treatment of
the original FROM, differing only in treatment of the original TO+CC.
If I can create, using Gmail, whose logic and intelligence are exemplary,
a case where Gmail ever offers me a "Reply to Sender" action,
I'll let you know, and I'd appreciate anyone else letting all of us know
if you ever see this occurring, so we can figure out how it's done,
other than by perhaps making a table of some popular mailing lists,
in which their format is known, or by simply taking the same guess for all lists,
which won't be universally reliable.
Until then, whatever logical reasoning I'm capable of
suggests to me that any client over-extends itself
(and thus misleads users' expectations)
if it ever labeled an action, for email accounts, as "Reply to Sender"
rather then just "Reply," and the rightful and honest way
for it to correct that would be to change that label's wording,
rather than to consider trying to guess (yes, GUESS)
whether to honor or refuse to honor "Reply-to" if present,
the latter being antagonistic to sender's expectations for following standards,
as well as many user expectations for doing the same.
Honoring Chris' impatience, I've posted this to both newsgroups
and set follow-up to mozilla.general, although if anyone discovers
more of real logical principle that can be brought to bear on this,
I hope that it will be brought back here, where it belongs,
since _this_ is the list specifically about Thunderbird, the email client,
rather than about Mozilla Foundation (who cares about them? ;-)
I don't see where Mike delved into any of the kind of "computer logic"
that I have gone into here, which has nothing to do with "people logic"
or any other consideration that Mike brought up.
I may not be very eloquent, but I think I've at least been logical :)
(as well as following the subject and gaining some expanded knowledge about
the workings of TB and other clients, which I hope is the actual goal we seek)
You're making it far too complicated. TB shows me who sent the message,
yet denies me the opportunity to choose to reply to that address (unless
I choose "Reply All"). I don't want it to think, even less 'discern'
even if it could. I'll do the thinking.
I have definitely explained before that "Reply to" simply sets a default
action for the "reply" button; it does NOT imply that doing otherwise is
"disrespectful", merely "exceptional". Having to repeat myself is
definitely a sign this conversation should be over. If we repeat
ourselves we can go on forever.
I don't see the point of "Reply to sender" either, which is why I
postulated that it was a broken attempt to implement "return to author".
If the CEO authored a message and it was "sent" by her secretary, and
she wanted responses also to go to the secretary, then she should set
But they don't... that's the problem!
I'm sorry, I don't understand that. I'm not subscribed to that group,
and I don't really want to. I think we should be wrapping this up,
rather than trying to take it elsewhere.
It was a 'people logic' thing. I'm not stupid and I can tell when I'm
being fed "spin". I challenged him and he gave me two good reasons. Of
course it might have been simpler to start there, but never mind...
And you write clear English; you have no idea how refreshing this is in
a world of txt msgs.
The objective was to find a good way to reply to the author, whose name
and email address are held in front of my nose with no clearly defined
way to reply to him, nor even to correctly copy these data.
In an effort to bring this saga to a close, I will be trying to ignore
anything that has already been answered further up the thread.
P.S. 'putmyfullnamehere' was originally intended to be simple
obfuscation, but when I realised that I could register multiple hotmail
addresses, I also registered that one. If you write to it, I will answer
you. I am of the OPINION that forum/group/list members should be able to
accept personal messages, so as a point of honour, I do so. However, I
also recognise that this is no more than an OPINION so I respect your
wish to do otherwise.
I'm afraid you are confusing author and sender. The author is the person
that created the post. The sender is the entity that sent you the
message. In the case of a list, that entity is the list, not the author.
For obvious reasons, the list displays the name etc of the author. If it
showed that person as "Author" instead of "Sender", you wouldn't be so
annoyed that Reply To Sender doesn't select the author. And then it
would be easy for an e-mail client to offer the option of Reply to
Author. But if such a change in practice occurred, I for one would want
to be able to block any replies to author coming to me.
In ordinary e-mail, the author and the sender are the same entity. In
lists, they are different. People generally have no problems with
ambiguous usages. Computers do.
And that's all folks.
This really only means "Reply by mail" (not to NNTP news host),
and it should, like other actions, strictly obey any "Reply-to" header,
at least when setting up the composition window,
without trying to second-guess anything.
In "news" accounts, "Reply to newsgroup" is analogous to "Reply to List"
which is offered in accounts that are strictly for mail,
but which you may notice is always grayed out
if there was no "List-Post" header identifying a specific mailing address
that's certain to be that of a mailing list.
One could almost justify the other "to sender" label wording in "news" accounts,
inasmuch as the "group" is certainly the newsgroup name(s) in this case,
and that replying to the group(s) is done specifically via the NNTP host,
which is always known when a "news" account is used.
However, the possibility of "From:" and "Reply-to:"
still including a mailing list (or other things)
seems still to be open, even for news posts,
inasmuch as some combinations of mailing lists and newsgroups
distribute posts to both news servers and mailing lists,
so it seems to me that it is a presumption to label a newsgroup action
"Reply to Sender only," and that "Reply by MAIL ONLY" would be more neutral,
as well as more truthful, avoiding making users think that TB
has any psychic abilities not possessed by any other program or system.
The subject I've been addressing here is still just "logic,"
and the logic comes from the aggregate of RFCs (rules)
by which we're supposed to play this game and program general clients,
trying to avoid injecting personal wishes and assumptions
to build anything into the game software itself
that violates the set of official (and practical, from experience)
game rules, as all players on this field should expect and respect.
Not until some RFC were to identify another "list" header, perhaps
would we be able to offer any kind of reply that is truly certain
of being the original individual sender's true address,
and also where that originator is certain not to mind
if an explicit "Reply-to" were ignored.
Having just read that you don't want a "courtesy copy,"
I can remember not to send one this time, but if you were
to include a header "Reply-to: Wolf*******"
then this would _automatically_ divert "Reply to Sender" or "to All,"
exactly as you intend, and would even alert people like me,
who look and try to judge whether or not to manually add a "Bcc:"
Everything is already quite logical and covers what we really need,
the result of good general design by people having broad awareness
of a wide spectrum of internet activity, creating specifications
which for the most part fit together in a harmonious way,
and still let us accomplish anything we want.
Subtle issues like this one require gathering a broad viewpoint before
coming to a final conclusion, which may be why it takes a little while
to complete a truly satisfying discussion, and I'm sorry if the OP
and Chris are still not satisfied with it, or with me :)
x-posted to .general, f/ups to .general
I'm going to try again to move this discussion over to moz.general
because I don't think it is that much trouble to use another newsgroup
in which this range of discussion is more appropriate. Subscribing to
another newsgroup is nothing like subscribing to another mailing list
which fills up an inbox or its folder derivative.
It occurs to me that it would be useful for this debate to consider the
RFC terms should/shall, must, required, optional, may, and their
corresponding opposites with 'not'. These terms are so rfc-important
that there is even an RFC to help define their usage.
To me, there is a concept that when there is a reply-to, that the
message client must not be replying to the from, because the reply-to
has superseded the from.
Sorta like a requirement to be compliant. Along with that the client
carries the user, that the 'silly' user must not be replying to
something other than the reply-to by some kind of automatic function of
the user's client.
You seem to think it is just optional what the user replies to.