Re: Subject lines with Re: and Fw:

On 2001.06.13 18:01:26 +0100 Sebastian Zerbe wrote:
> Hi Brian,
> you may think that it is a good idea to hard code "Re:"
> and "Fw:", but i can't agree with you in this point.
> I would say that good software is the one which leaves
> as much freedom to the user as possible. Therfore it's

I would agree normally, but in this case common practice
would appear to go against the spirit of RFC 2822.

> enough to have a default of "Re:" and "Fw:".
> Most users don't change it (I don't at least), but
> there are some people here in Germany who prefer
> "AW:"(Antwort, engl. answer) instead of "Re:"
> and then use capitalized "FW:". Balsa has it's 
> problems with this, too, but it should be left to the
> user!

Where I'm coming from is the spirit of the drums discussion
was that arbitrary strings for Re: and Fw: makes life hard
for automated processors; the typical result being the
"Re: RE: RE re: subject" sort of thing which drives the subject
off the right edge of the screen.  By having predictable as
opposed to arbitrary strings, it would be possible to
deterministically detect the prefixes and avoid adding more
of them, or even to remove the excesses.  That said, the
discussion was a long time ago and I forget the details.

Furthermore, no mention of Fw: made its way into RFC 2822 and
the text on Re: seems vague and non-prescriptive to me, so I
accept that my argument is weak here.

As regards internationalisation, my sympathies are with
anything that is translatable (I for one hate seeing
American dialect in allegedly translated English locales).
To that end I feel it is better if the Re: and Fw: strings
are fixed in the subject line, but translated for display
by the application.

A suggestion might be to have REs that match and replace versions
of Re: and Fw: in common use.  For display, the fixed strings
Re: and Fw: could be translated by gettext().  When mail is
replied to or forwarded, the message could be transmitted using
the standard abbreviations.  In both cases repeated prefixes could
be collapsed to a single instance.

To tell the truth, I'm thinking aloud here, RFC 2821/2822 are on
my mind for other reasons at the moment!

> BTW, I would agree with you to capitalize the word
> "string" in the mentioned titles.

All important words in English titles should be capitalised.

> Best Regards,
> Sebastian Zerbe

Brian Stafford

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