Re: [Evolution] Replying to digests (WAS: Re: Subject: Re: mail client application)

On Sat, 2010-06-26 at 16:56 +0200, KÃre Fiedler Christiansen wrote:
On Sat, Jun 26, 2010 at 15:03, Patrick O'Callaghan <poc usb ve> wrote:
On Fri, 2010-06-25 at 08:59 +0530, vijay singh wrote:
I am just following what is written in top mailing list.

When replying, please edit your Subject line so it is more specific
than "Re: Contents of evolution-list digest..."

So i am replaying to list by editing my subject>

Please let me know what is problem on this ??

I'm not sure who gave you that advice (I've been off the list for a
couple of days) but although I'm sure it was well-intentioned, it gives
the misleading impression that replying to a digest is OK as long as you
change the Subject line.

That advice is from the default Mailman introduction to digests. It's
written before all the messages in the digest.

So it is. As I never use digests and certainly don't read them when
they're replied to, I hadn't noticed it.

It's not.

There is *no* circumstance in which replying to a digest is acceptable.
Mailing list digests are designed as a strictly read-only channel. If
you ever need to reply to message contained in a digest, post your reply
as an entirely separate (new) message and copy the correct Subject line,
or (better) go into the Gmane news-to-mail service ( and post
a reply to that specific message.

I can't see how replying to a digest is any worse than posting an
entirely new message (providing you edit the subject line, and snip
off all irrelevant quoted material, of course).

I contend that it is worse because you're replying to a message that
never appeared on the list, i.e. the digest itself. It's a reply to
nothing. Changing the Subject line is a palliative at best as it still
doesn't restore the threading (same goes for people who hijack threads).

In fact, chances are
that if you start a new message rather than choose reply, you will end
up with a message where it's hard to distinguish between new and
quoted material, because insering "> " before each line, and
re-breaking the lines is so much trouble.

Right-click and select "paste quotation".

I agree that it's much better to reply to the individual messages, but
this is infeasible if you receive the mailing list in digests. Yes,
going to works - but if you chose to read the mailing list
as digests, chances are that you're not using gmane, which makes it a
high-barrier approach, just ot reply to messages.

I take the view that if anyone who intends to participate fully in the
list and reply to messages shouldn't be using digests in the first

As long as digests exist, I can't see any way we will ever avoid
having broken threads.

Indeed. My vote is to eliminate digests entirely, but it's not my call.

Talking of guidelines, I feel that people on this list are a little
heavy-handed in trying to enforce the guidelines. It's not that I
disagree with any of them (and I too believe that digests are a lot
more trouble than they're worth), but replying to messages only to
point out when people break the guidelines is frankly annoying to both
the (probably inadvertant) original poster, and other people who read
the noise. I suggest that pointing out the guidelines is best done as
a helpful pointer, along with the reply to whatever the poster was
asking. This will both give the result of removing messages with no
other content than rule-enforcement, and (hopefully) better motivation
for actually listening to the advice.

My personal policy is to call out replies to digests and thread hijacks
as being particularly annoying. I intentionally avoid replying to the
poster's question because that will only encourage the (broken) thread
to continue. Other annoyances such as top-posting or using HTML I only
point out if I'm also commenting on the actual content. Some people do
find this annoying, but what's to be done? If no-one complains there's
no incentive to change. Sometimes I complain off-list, but then of
course no-one else will notice that certain things are frowned on. It's
a fine line.


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