[Clipart] this mailing list is configured incorrectly, likely resulting in a lot of off-list discussion

Nathan Eady eady at galion.lib.oh.us
Wed Apr 13 15:00:12 PDT 2005

Christopher Schmidt wrote:

> Setting the reply-to to the list ends up generating more mail to the
> list 

Yes, which is the correct and desired thing in vanishingly close to 100% 
of cases.

There *are* lists where the Reply-To should not be set, but they the 
kinds of lists where replies to the list are often not wanted, such as 
extremely high-volume lists (the Mandrake Cooker list comes to mind)
or lists that allow/encourage posts from non-subscribed persons (which,
spam being the issue that it is these days, is frankly rather insane).

> that can't be undone. If you send mail to one person, you can then
> forward it to the list as well.

Only after you notice, a day or two later, that you neglected to change
the To: field (something the user SHOULD NOT have to manually do for
every single reply) and go digging back through your outbox to find it.
That's not an efficient workflow.  Sometimes you don't notice at all,
if you aren't specifically looking for replies to your message.  In
that case, this becomes effectively a data-loss scenerio, because the
message is sent apparently without error, but it is never received by
the intended recipients.

At home, where I have a decent mail client, this is no problem; I just
set the reply-address option on the folder for this list.  At work,
where I am stuck using an inferior mail client, it is a *significant*
problem.  I've been bitten by it a number of times now.

 > If you send it to the list when you mean
> to just reply to the author, you can't unsend that.

Yeah, but how often do you intend to send an offlist reply?  0.01% of
the time?  Less?  On those rare occasions, you're specifically thinking
about that and so will easily remember to edit the To: field.  I'm on
numerous lists that set the Reply-To:, and this has never been a problem
on any of them.  Every person I have ever heard use this argument (and
I have had this discussion dozens of times on dozens of lists) has
also admitted that most of the lists they are on do not set the
Reply-To, meaning that, in fact, they don't actually know whether it
is a problem or not:  Those of us who are on numerous lists that set
the Reply-To header (and have been on such lists for years) do know
whether this is a problem: it is not.

> If Yahoo and Thunderbird's Reply-To-All don't include the list address,

Reply-To-All is an irrelevant red herring.  For one thing, it sends
duplicate copies, which is horrible netiquette and has been deprecated
since time out of mind; encouraging people to use it for every message
is irresponsible at best.  For another, it is not the button the user
normally hits to reply to messages, so it requires the user to take
some special action for list messages; the default, the thing that
happens when the user hits the regular button, is the Wrong Thing.

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