Harmonzing Internet e-mail and Usenet News protocols

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Jacob Palme

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Oct 16, 1994, 2:18:13 PM10/16/94
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+-------------------------------------------+
! Draft user requirements for harmonzing !
! Internet e-mail and Usenet News protocols !
+-------------------------------------------+

Definitions: The word "discussion group" or only "group" is
used below to refer to services for exchanging messages in a
group of people, irrespective of whether this service is
provided by Usenet Newsgroups or by e-mail mailing lists.

Users perceive personal e-mail, distribution lists and Usenet
News as very similar services. They want these three services
to behave in similar ways and they want to be able to use the
same or similar commands in all three environments.

These user requirements of course reflect directly on the
user interface of client software, not on the protocol. But
the e-mail (RFC822 as extended by other RFC-s) and Usenet
News (RFC 1036) protocols can be designed to make it easier
or more difficult to make client software which satisfies the
user requirements below.

In particular, users have the following requirements (all
users do not necessarily have all these requirements):

Client software interactivity:
-----------------------------

1. It should be possible to provide neat, easy-to-use user
interfaces to users. Such interfaces should hide
technical complexity to ordinary users.

Example: Users should not have to format syntactically
correct commands as text in messages they have to send to
mailing list servers. These commands should be
standardized, so that they can be hidden from non-
technical users by good user interfaces.

2. Users who have other languages than English as their
native tongue, should not, unless they so prefer, be
forced to use English-language user interfaces.

Example: Standards for heading fields and network
commands allow the user interface to translate these to
the language of the user.

3. Many users have learnt to use Gopher and WWW clients as
general-purpose client software to access many different
servers. Such users should be able to use this client
software also for performing administration of their
participation in discussion groups.

4. Users should be able to read new messages sorted by
discussion group, and be able to read personal messages,
sent to them individually, separately from messages
coming from mailing lists.

Format of displaying messages:
-----------------------------

5. Similar format for viewing messages in all three
environments (personal e-mail, mailing lists,
newsgroups). This especially applies to message headers.

6. The same heading field should have the same or similar
meaning in all three environments.

Examples: Usenet News should not use "Supersedes:" when
e-mail uses "Obsoletes:" (RFC 1327) and Usenet News
should not use "Expiry Date:" (RFC 1036) when e-mail uses
"Expires:" (RFC 1327).

7. Information given on to whom (individuals, lists and
newsgroups) a message was sent should be consistent in
all three environments.

Example: Information about which groups a message was
sent to should preferably not be labelled "Newsgroups:"
in one environment and "To:" in another environment.

8. Information on where to send replies shoud be consistent
in all three environments.

Examples: "Reply-to:" could indicate where personal
replies (only to the author) should be sent in all three
environments, and "Followup-To:" could indicate where
group replies are to be sent in all three environments.

9. The same name should preferably be shown to the users,
when referring to a discussion group, whether the group
appears as a Usenet Newsgroup or as a mailing list or
both. If this is not technically possible, at least the
names should be easily related to each other in a way
which is understandable to the users.

Handling of conversations:
-------------------------

10. Conversations (chains/trees of messages referring to each
other) should be handled in ways which makes it easy for
users to scan such chains, and to withdraw from a
conversation without unsubscribing from the whole group.

11. It should be possible to let a person who is not a member
of a discussion group participate in a particular
conversation going on within that group.

Distribution of the same contribution to multiple groups:
--------------------------------------------------------

12. Users should be able to easily send the same message, at
the same time, to one or more newsgroups, one or more
distribution lists and one or more individual recipients.

13. Recipients should not be forced to see the same message
more than once even though the message was sent to more
than one newsgroup or distribution list.

E-mail compatibility:
--------------------

14. Users who have e-mail but no other Internet access should
be able to participate in discussion groups with similar
commands, independent of whether the group is a newsgroup
or a distribution list.

15. All Usenet Newsgroups should be available as mailing
lists for those users who only have e-mail connectivity.
(??) Is there a reverse requirement that all mailing
lists should be available also as some kind of Newsgroup?

16. Users of existing services should be able to continue
using as far as possible the services in the way they
have become accustomed to.

Conclusion: The service should interwork well with
existing protocols for e-mail (both Internet and X.400 e-
mail) and for Usenet News.

Administration and archiving:
----------------------------

17. Users should be able to use similar commands in order to
find newsgroups and distribution lists, to subscribe to
them and to unsubscribe to them.

18. Moderated and un-moderated, closed or open discussion
groups should as far as possible be handled with similar
commands for ordinary users. This includes commands to
submit contributions and to ask for membership in the
group.

19. Discussion groups should be either open to anyone, or
open to specified groups (such as employees of a
particular company or members of a particular society),
or closed where all new members must be approved by the
administrator of the group.

20. Users can be ordinary members of discussion groups or
have special roles such as moderators or administrators.
Also moderators and administrators more and more often
are people without technical expertise in the computer
area. Thus, the user interface should be friendly not
only for ordinary users but also for users with special
roles like moderators and administrators.

21. Users should be able to access archives of old messages,
if such exist, with similar commands, irrespective of if
the messages are stored in a Usenet News server or in
some kind of mailing list archive.

In order to satisfy these requirements, there should be
standards for the functions listed below. All the functions
should be available through mail servers, to support users
who only have e-mail access, but the functions should also be
available through direct network connections so that users
with full Internet access can get direct responses to their
commands from the server.

Facilities for ordinary users:

1. Find information about available discussion groups.

2. Subscribe to discussion groups.

3. Ask the administrator of closed groups to let them to
become members.

4. Withdraw from discussion groups.

5. Submit contributions.

6. Submit contributions obsoleting their own previously
submitted contributions.

7. Read contributions.

8. Retrieve and find old contributions.

Facilities for moderators:

9. Find submissions.

10. Accept or reject submissions.

Facilities for administrators:

11. Start new discussion groups.

12. Announce new discussion groups to prospective members.

13. Find requests for membership to discussion groups.

14. Add and remove members from discussion groups.

15. Cancel discussion groups.

16. Appoint moderators and/or new administrators.

17. Modify the attributes of discussion groups. Examples of
such attributes are whether the group is moderated, where
and for how long archives are kept etc.

------------------------------------------------------------------------
Jacob Palme E-mail: jpa...@dsv.su.se
Phone: +46-8-664 77 48 or +46-8-16 16 67
Department of Computer and Fax: +46-8-664 77 48 between 9 am & 2 pm WET
Systems Sciences (DSV) Postal address: Skeppargatan 73,
Stockholm University S-11530 Stockholm, Sweden

John Stanley

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Oct 18, 1994, 6:48:11 PM10/18/94
to
In article <Pine.SUN.3.90.941016190821.8655A-100000@ester>,

Jacob Palme <jpa...@dsv.SU.SE> wrote:
>Users perceive personal e-mail, distribution lists and Usenet
>News as very similar services. They want these three services
>to behave in similar ways and they want to be able to use the
>same or similar commands in all three environments.

I don't accept the assumption. Users who understand the difference
between mail and news (i.e., private and public messages) do not
perceive mail and news to be "very similar".

It is only the people who deal with messaging without considering that
dichotomy that think they are "very similar".

Users that don't understand the difference between public and private
messages need help learning the difference, not a standard that will
help keep them confused.

> Example: Users should not have to format syntactically
> correct commands as text in messages they have to send to
> mailing list servers. These commands should be
> standardized, so that they can be hidden from non-
> technical users by good user interfaces.

This standard implies either 1) everybody scrap every mailing list
server except one, or 2) everybody use a standard for creating mailing
addresses, with a different, orthogonal standard for each mailing list
server. Only by having rule 2 can a mail agent hope to know what
commands to send, based on the address things are sent to.

> Examples: Usenet News should not use "Supersedes:" when
> e-mail uses "Obsoletes:" (RFC 1327) and Usenet News
> should not use "Expiry Date:" (RFC 1036) when e-mail uses
> "Expires:" (RFC 1327).

Expiry date?

>7. Information given on to whom (individuals, lists and
> newsgroups) a message was sent should be consistent in
> all three environments.

Interfaces must show to whom the message will be sent. Not just to whom
it was sent. By then, it is too late.

>11. It should be possible to let a person who is not a member
> of a discussion group participate in a particular
> conversation going on within that group.

Why should group membership not be a prerequisite for participation in
the group? How do you intend that this user who is not a member receive
the replies members send to the group? Telepathy?

>14. Users who have e-mail but no other Internet access should
> be able to participate in discussion groups with similar
> commands, independent of whether the group is a newsgroup
> or a distribution list.

How do you intend this miracle?

>15. All Usenet Newsgroups should be available as mailing
> lists for those users who only have e-mail connectivity.

Ah, the miracle is not clear. Are you volunteering your computer to do
this? How do you force this to happen? And why is it mandatory for
email only users to have USENET connectivity?

>17. Users should be able to use similar commands in order to
> find newsgroups and distribution lists, to subscribe to
> them and to unsubscribe to them.

This requirement is even more limiting that the earlier one. Every
mailing list must have "similar" sub and unsub commands. That implies
everyone runs the same one.

Robert A. Rosenberg

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Oct 19, 1994, 4:27:22 AM10/19/94
to
In Article <381jbb$4...@gaia.ucs.orst.edu>, sta...@skyking.OCE.ORST.EDU

(John Stanley) wrote:
>In article <Pine.SUN.3.90.941016190821.8655A-100000@ester>,
>Jacob Palme <jpa...@dsv.SU.SE> wrote:

>>11. It should be possible to let a person who is not a member
>> of a discussion group participate in a particular
>> conversation going on within that group.
>
>Why should group membership not be a prerequisite for participation in
>the group? How do you intend that this user who is not a member receive
>the replies members send to the group? Telepathy?
>

One reason is to allow the user to send a general "How do I join the list?"
message to the list (which would be replied to via an Email to their address
not to the list address) when they know the list address but not the
subscribe address (which can be listname-request@x [for listname@x],
listserv@x2 [x2 not necessarily equal to the message domain], majordomo@x2
[same caveat], random@x2 [manual subscription], etc).

As to participation in a list, any replies to the user's submission could
have him CC'ed so he gets that thread without getting the rest of the
threads on that list.

John Stanley

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Oct 20, 1994, 1:52:45 PM10/20/94
to
In article <383f3r$i...@mars.mcs.com>, Leslie Mikesell <l...@MCS.COM> wrote:
>Huh?? I disagree. I know the difference and they still are all just
>messages to be read and possibly answered.

How you answer them should depend on the nature of the reply. E.g., a
private reply to someone asking a question should probably contain the
answer. A public reply to a common question may only contain a pointer
to the answer. (The latter saves bandwidth and is less annoying to those
reading the group who already know the answer, while letting those who
don't know look it up for themselves.)

>What dichotomy?

Keep up with the discussion. Public vs. private.

>>Users that don't understand the difference between public and private

Oh, look, I answered your question in the next sentence already.

>There is really only one difference that should be significant at the
>user's response level. It is appropriate to respond back to the group
>that originally saw a message and quote the original in the body. It

It may or may not be. For example, someone mentioned sending "how do I
subscribe" messages to a group. It would be completely INappropriate to
reply to these messages in the group. (Those who read the group already
know how to subscribe or they wouldn't be reading it.)

>is also appropriate and common to respond privately to the sender. It

So? They type of reply, and what it says, will often depend on the
nature of the message being replied to. To blur the difference between
public and private messages is to open the gate for people to think they
are replying privately when posting, or publicly when mailing privately.

>is a judgement call as to whether or not it is appropriate to add new
>recipients or groups to the response when the original had more than
>one recipient.

This is not the issue.

>However, it is never appropriate to add new recipients
>to a response to a private message without the original sender's
>permission. This relates to the sender's rights and expectations rather
>than the transport mechanism, though.

And making it all look the same removes the perceived limitation that
you say is never appropriate.

>>Interfaces must show to whom the message will be sent. Not just to whom
>>it was sent. By then, it is too late.
>

>Some do, some don't unless you go out of your way to look.

Then those that don't should be fixed. They are broken. I would not
allow a mail agent that did not report prior to sending mail the
To: address (and any and all CC: and BCC:) to exist on my systems.
It would be a disservice to my users.

>But the
>problem that relates to my comment above is that it is seldom possible
>to tell exactly who has seen (will see) the original.

This capability is well near impossible, especially for news. And I
certainly do not want to see, nor would I burden my mailing list readers
with, a complete list of who a mailing list message was sent to.

>Another problem is that some people (or their software) typically
>reply to a news posting with simultaneous email to the poster and
>a posting of their own. I often see the email reply first and respond
>privately, then later see the posted response and realize that the
>discussion should have continued in the newsgroup.

This is a problem that user education will solve. Rudeness such as this
is not a property of the software, and will not stop just because a new
header has been created.

>What constitutes "group membership"? A set of CC:'s in an email header
>should be enough to allow email replies to everyone.

Unless, of course, the group does not support CC: headers at all.

>Many, but perhaps
>not all mailers have commands to reply to everyone mentioned in the
>headers.

And many allow you to reply only to specific persons. If a question is
asked to a list, and it is appropriate to answer in the list, I will do
that, with the assumption that anyone who is wanting information from people
will make a tiny effort to go to where the people are, not demand that
they come to him.

>>This requirement is even more limiting that the earlier one. Every
>>mailing list must have "similar" sub and unsub commands. That implies
>>everyone runs the same one.
>

>Are you saying that you enjoy the diversity?

As a user, I neither enjoy nor dislike the diversity. I accept it as the
way things are, and make the effort to find out what the correct access
method is. In case you haven't noticed, almost all of the listings of
mailing lists include the request address. The effort of continuing to
read the paragraph is minimal.

As an admin, I reject the notion that I must waste my time installing a
new mailing list server just because people are too stupid to read the
instructions on how to use the one I have now.

Leslie Mikesell

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Oct 20, 1994, 2:58:48 PM10/20/94
to
In article <386apd$9...@gaia.ucs.orst.edu>,
John Stanley <sta...@skyking.OCE.ORST.EDU> wrote:

>>There is really only one difference that should be significant at the
>>user's response level. It is appropriate to respond back to the group
>>that originally saw a message and quote the original in the body. It

>It may or may not be. For example, someone mentioned sending "how do I
>subscribe" messages to a group. It would be completely INappropriate to
>reply to these messages in the group. (Those who read the group already
>know how to subscribe or they wouldn't be reading it.)

It's inappropriate to send such a message to a group in the first place.

>>is also appropriate and common to respond privately to the sender. It
>
>So? They type of reply, and what it says, will often depend on the
>nature of the message being replied to. To blur the difference between
>public and private messages is to open the gate for people to think they
>are replying privately when posting, or publicly when mailing privately.

Sorry, but I don't blindly assume that everything in email is private,
so there is nothing blurring any distinction here.

>>is a judgement call as to whether or not it is appropriate to add new
>>recipients or groups to the response when the original had more than
>>one recipient.
>
>This is not the issue.

It is exactly the issue. Nothing other than my own judgement can or
should determine the type of reply I send.

>>However, it is never appropriate to add new recipients
>>to a response to a private message without the original sender's
>>permission. This relates to the sender's rights and expectations rather
>>than the transport mechanism, though.
>
>And making it all look the same removes the perceived limitation that
>you say is never appropriate.

On the contrary, there is no limitation, only a choice. Making it look
the same emphasizes the fact that you always have the same choice and
you should make it appropriately.

>>>Interfaces must show to whom the message will be sent. Not just to whom
>>>it was sent. By then, it is too late.
>>
>>Some do, some don't unless you go out of your way to look.
>
>Then those that don't should be fixed. They are broken. I would not
>allow a mail agent that did not report prior to sending mail the
>To: address (and any and all CC: and BCC:) to exist on my systems.
>It would be a disservice to my users.

Ummm, the user should *direct* the choice of replying to only the sender
or to all the recipients. If they can't remember which they chose, it
probably won't help to print the list again.

>>Another problem is that some people (or their software) typically
>>reply to a news posting with simultaneous email to the poster and
>>a posting of their own. I often see the email reply first and respond
>>privately, then later see the posted response and realize that the
>>discussion should have continued in the newsgroup.
>
>This is a problem that user education will solve. Rudeness such as this
>is not a property of the software, and will not stop just because a new
>header has been created.

It's not really rude, since it does call your attention to the response
which might otherwise get lost since no one can possibly read all
the newsgroups every day. It would just be nice if there were a
standard way of indicating in the headers that the message was also
posted to the newsgroup.

>>What constitutes "group membership"? A set of CC:'s in an email header
>>should be enough to allow email replies to everyone.
>
>Unless, of course, the group does not support CC: headers at all.

I meant that a set of CC:'s will create a group by themselves, without
any list processor. But, if you are responding to a list message with
an email interface, your own mailer will process the CC: address for
your reply, although it may be stripped by the mailing list processing
and prevent later responses from getting back to the added address.

Les Mikesell
l...@mcs.com

Mark Crispin

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Oct 20, 1994, 8:38:18 PM10/20/94
to John Stanley, header...@mc.lcs.mit.edu
John Stanley's argument basically boils down to:

The perceived models of Internet email, as established in common email
software, and of USENET news, as established in common news software, are
fundamentally different. There is no way for these two models to integrate
without creating an integrated model that has differences from the two. There
are different protocols to transport mail and news.

So far, he's correct.

But, from this point, he makes this conclusion:

This state of affairs is right and desirable. Users must be aware that there
are two protocols and two incompatible worlds at all times. Software must not
smooth over these differences, and no attempt made to make these worlds
compatible.

It is here where many of us disagree.

I see absolutely no reason why I should have to care whether something is news
or mail. It's up to these expensive computers to figure that detail out.

Ideally, there would be no Newsgroups: line. Newsgroups would appear on the
To:, cc:, or bcc: lines where they belong. But we live in an imperfect world.
The actual integration effort is much more modest in its scope and much less
disruptive.

Leslie Mikesell

unread,
Oct 19, 1994, 11:48:11 AM10/19/94
to
In article <381jbb$4...@gaia.ucs.orst.edu>,
John Stanley <sta...@skyking.OCE.ORST.EDU> wrote:

>>Users perceive personal e-mail, distribution lists and Usenet
>>News as very similar services. They want these three services
>>to behave in similar ways and they want to be able to use the
>>same or similar commands in all three environments.

>I don't accept the assumption. Users who understand the difference
>between mail and news (i.e., private and public messages) do not
>perceive mail and news to be "very similar".

Huh?? I disagree. I know the difference and they still are all just


messages to be read and possibly answered.

>It is only the people who deal with messaging without considering that


>dichotomy that think they are "very similar".

What dichotomy?

>Users that don't understand the difference between public and private
>messages need help learning the difference, not a standard that will
>help keep them confused.

There is really only one difference that should be significant at the


user's response level. It is appropriate to respond back to the group
that originally saw a message and quote the original in the body. It

is also appropriate and common to respond privately to the sender. It

is a judgement call as to whether or not it is appropriate to add new
recipients or groups to the response when the original had more than

one recipient. However, it is never appropriate to add new recipients


to a response to a private message without the original sender's
permission. This relates to the sender's rights and expectations rather
than the transport mechanism, though.

>>7. Information given on to whom (individuals, lists and


>> newsgroups) a message was sent should be consistent in
>> all three environments.
>
>Interfaces must show to whom the message will be sent. Not just to whom
>it was sent. By then, it is too late.

Some do, some don't unless you go out of your way to look. But the


problem that relates to my comment above is that it is seldom possible

to tell exactly who has seen (will see) the original. For one thing
email headers are not required to reflect the envelope addresses,
nor does any single address have to map to any single entity.


Another problem is that some people (or their software) typically
reply to a news posting with simultaneous email to the poster and
a posting of their own. I often see the email reply first and respond
privately, then later see the posted response and realize that the
discussion should have continued in the newsgroup.

>>11. It should be possible to let a person who is not a member


>> of a discussion group participate in a particular
>> conversation going on within that group.
>
>Why should group membership not be a prerequisite for participation in
>the group? How do you intend that this user who is not a member receive
>the replies members send to the group? Telepathy?

What constitutes "group membership"? A set of CC:'s in an email header
should be enough to allow email replies to everyone. Many, but perhaps


not all mailers have commands to reply to everyone mentioned in the

headers. Using these commands to reply to a mailing list message will
send a copy back to the sender whether he is on the list or not (if he
is, he'll get two copies) and add him to the CC: list for subsequent
replies.

>>17. Users should be able to use similar commands in order to
>> find newsgroups and distribution lists, to subscribe to
>> them and to unsubscribe to them.
>
>This requirement is even more limiting that the earlier one. Every
>mailing list must have "similar" sub and unsub commands. That implies
>everyone runs the same one.

Are you saying that you enjoy the diversity?

Les Mikesell
l...@mcs.com

Leslie Mikesell

unread,
Oct 21, 1994, 6:22:46 PM10/21/94
to
In article <388hmo$k...@gaia.ucs.orst.edu>,
John Stanley <sta...@skyking.OCE.ORST.EDU> wrote:

>>Sorry, but I don't blindly assume that everything in email is private,
>>so there is nothing blurring any distinction here.
>

>I didn't say everything in mail is private. I am talking about the
>distinction between public and private. News is always public. Mail is
>a mix. But everyone here seems to be dealing with mail only as public.
>It isn't.

But your argument against combining mail and news under a single interface
seem to revolve around the assumption that email is automatically private.

>Making it look the same removes information you need to know in order to
>choose. It may emphasize that you need to make the choice, but it takes
>away your ability to do so.

Are you saying your mail interface does not offer a choice of replying
only to the sender or to all recipients? If that is the case I can
see why you wouldn't want to handle news with it. But, I wouldn't
want it for mail either.

>>Ummm, the user should *direct* the choice of replying to only the sender
>>or to all the recipients. If they can't remember which they chose, it
>>probably won't help to print the list again.
>

>Right. Seeing a list of 80 names in a CC: header won't remind anyone
>that they are replying in an essentially public manner. Seeing that they
>are sending a response to "foobar-list" won't remind them that they
>selected a public response. You must have some really dense users.

No, the opposite. They make the selection. Why should they forget
and need to be reminded? Actually I'm not arguing against showing
the headers - I prefer it but don't consider it to be essential that
you see them at the same time as the message body.

>There is no guarantee that some helpful mailer will not twist the
>presence of a "Newsgroups" header in mail into "I must post this mail
>for the user."

The real problems come from the fact that there is not a standard
way to gateway between mailing lists and news transports or for
a single user interface to handle both transports. But the fact
that current attempts are inconsistent does not mean it is a bad
idea.

Les Mikesell
l...@mcs.com

Mark Crispin

unread,
Oct 22, 1994, 4:53:19 PM10/22/94
to John Stanley, header...@mc.lcs.mit.edu
On Fri, 21 Oct 1994 18:29:16 +0100, John Stanley wrote:
> Email is generally a private communication medium.

This is not supported by measurements at any site that I am familiar with.
The overwhelming amount of mail is mailing-list and *not* person-to-person.

> You have shown a remarkable inability to interpret simple english.

I understand your arguments perfectly well. I ignore arguments which are
patently false and absurd. You just proved it by using ``eh, you no speaka ze
English?'' as a prop. Correct arguments do not need rotten props to shore
them up.

The public/private message dichotomy is well understood. But that dichotomy
is not the SMTP/NNTP dichotomy. It is the reply sender/all dichotomy. Pine
has always made this distinction. Furthermore, it is not possible to post
news in Pine without replying Yes to a ``Posted message may go to thousands of
readers. Really post?'' warning. Both of these facts have been stated before
in this discussion.

According to your headers, you use an old version of Pine (3.87) which does
not have the capability in question. Have you bothered to investigate for
yourself how that capability works in 3.91? Please do so before making
further comments.

James C Deikun

unread,
Oct 23, 1994, 2:28:06 AM10/23/94
to
In article <388hmo$k...@gaia.ucs.orst.edu>,
John Stanley <sta...@skyking.OCE.ORST.EDU> wrote:
>>Sorry, but I don't blindly assume that everything in email is private,
>>so there is nothing blurring any distinction here.
>
>I didn't say everything in mail is private. I am talking about the
>distinction between public and private. News is always public. Mail is
>a mix. But everyone here seems to be dealing with mail only as public.
>It isn't.

You make a good point, but it's not in your favor. Mail already
handles both public and private messages. And I see more mailreaders
that read news than newsreaders that read mail. If private and public
messages are already both supported, what of any importance is this
unification supposed to be blurring?

>>It is exactly the issue. Nothing other than my own judgement can or
>>should determine the type of reply I send.
>

>You must base that judgement on facts at hand. If the fact that you are
>replying in a public posting is lost, you may make the wrong decision.
>Similarly, if the fact that you are replying in private is lost, then
>you may decide incorrectly again.

Mechanisms to reply publicly and privately already exist in both news
and mail reading software. I still am not quite sure how using the
same mechanism of making the same distinction with two different
underlying protocols is supposedly going to confuse the hell out of
users.

(snip)
>>Making it look


>>the same emphasizes the fact that you always have the same choice and
>>you should make it appropriately.
>

>Making it look the same removes information you need to know in order to
>choose. It may emphasize that you need to make the choice, but it takes
>away your ability to do so.

Public/private is *not* the same as news/mail, a fact you seem unable
to accept. How do mailing lists (which look just the same as private
mail) take away your ability to choose whether to respond publicly or
privately? Why should unification with news make that any different?
Is there a reason you believe that all unified mail/news UIs will be
done in the worst way humanly possible?

What removes information essential to me is getting mail in response
to a news discussion and being unable to determine if it was also
publicly posted because of the broken newsreaders that leave spurious
Newsgroups: headers in purely private mail.

(snip)


>>It would just be nice if there were a
>>standard way of indicating in the headers that the message was also
>>posted to the newsgroup.
>

>As long as that header is NOT a standard news header, I have absolutely
>NO PROBLEM with this. I have even said as much, in public. I have even
>gone as far as suggesting names for the new mail headers.
>
>The problem I have is when people want news headers to play double duty.


>There is no guarantee that some helpful mailer will not twist the
>presence of a "Newsgroups" header in mail into "I must post this mail

>for the user." In fact, I can almost guarantee that it WILL happen.
>I have found at least one "helpful" mailer that made just such a
>decision based on the USER NAME the mail was addressed to, completely
>ignoring the tiny detail that the mail was addressed to a machine in a
>completely different domain. If you start using a header that some
>mailers leave in the mail they send in reply to news articles, you are
>guaranteeing that some helpful soul will program his mail system to obey
>it when it was not the intention of the user for it to be obeyed, nor
>his choice to include it.

Mailers that leave Newsgroups: headers in mail in reply to news articles
are broken. Period. When news and mail started using one header
format, and mail replies to news were first supported, it immediately
became a matter of common sense (that a lot of people apparently
failed to catch on to) to keep the possible sets of headers for mail
and news, if not identical, at least mutually consistent. With the
first mail<->news gateways this became even more painfully obvious.
The current behavior of certain newsreaders is wrong, has always been
wrong, and ought to be fixed.

As for "helpful" mailers, mailers aren't any more confused by the
current practice than are a lot of users.

(remainder omitted)

--
James Deikun, University of Pittsburgh
#include <std_disclaimer.h>
door (n.): An object that a cat is always on the wrong side of.

John Stanley

unread,
Oct 23, 1994, 10:16:07 AM10/23/94
to sta...@bubbles.wes.army.mil, M...@panda.com, header...@mc.lcs.mit.edu
>On Fri, 21 Oct 1994 18:29:16 +0100, John Stanley wrote:
>> Email is generally a private communication medium.
>
>This is not supported by measurements at any site that I am familiar with.
>The overwhelming amount of mail is mailing-list and *not* person-to-person.

I am tired of this showing up in my mailbox. My mailbox is for matters
I need to deal with quickly. I do not intend on continuing this
discussion by mail.

If you feel it is so important that you cannot wait the day or two it
might take me to see your witty rebuttals in news, that is your
problem. Do not make it mine.

John Stanley

unread,
Oct 20, 1994, 1:21:20 PM10/20/94
to
In article <hal9001.1...@news.panix.com>,

Robert A. Rosenberg <hal...@panix.com> wrote:
>In Article <381jbb$4...@gaia.ucs.orst.edu>, sta...@skyking.OCE.ORST.EDU
>(John Stanley) wrote:
>>Why should group membership not be a prerequisite for participation in
>>the group? How do you intend that this user who is not a member receive
>>the replies members send to the group? Telepathy?
>>

>One reason is to allow the user to send a general "How do I join the list?"
>message to the list (which would be replied to via an Email to their address
>not to the list address) when they know the list address but not the
>subscribe address (which can be listname-request@x [for listname@x],


1. This type of question is not participation, it is asking how to
participate. It is grossly off-topic for any mailing list or newsgroup,
except perhaps for the "how-do-I-subscribe-to-mailing-lists" mailing
list.

2. You do NOT want to encourage sending this sort of request to the
list EVER. For a 1000 member list, you will be bothering 1000 people to
answer a question that half have probably forgotten, and that one
should do: the list maintainer. For a USENET group, you are wasting an
incredible anmount of net resources for something that most people
couldn't answer anyway (it depends very much on what system with what
software is being used.)

If you can't make the effort to find out for yourself how to subscribe,
then your need to subscribe isn't very great, and is certainly less
than your right to annoy people who want to read about a certain topic
with "how do I join" messages.

>As to participation in a list, any replies to the user's submission could
>have him CC'ed

That is, if the submission to the list were marked in some way to
indicate this was necessary, if it could even be marked that way. There
is no header in news that will indicate this function.

And you need to read USENET for a while to notice the general opinion
that "please email me an answer to this question" is rude and a waste of
the net's time. If the question isn't important enough to make the
effort to participate in the group, it isn't important enough to warrant
an answer, and asking for personal, private replies from people who are
taking their time to give you information is rude to the rest of the
users who might benefit from the answer, too.

Mark Crispin

unread,
Oct 24, 1994, 6:39:29 AM10/24/94
to John Stanley, header...@mc.lcs.mit.edu
On Sun, 23 Oct 94 10:05:37 -0400, John Stanley wrote:
> I am tired of this showing up in my mailbox. My mailbox is for matters
> I need to deal with quickly. I do not intend on continuing this
> discussion by mail.
>
> If you feel it is so important that you cannot wait the day or two it
> might take me to see your witty rebuttals in news, that is your
> problem. Do not make it mine.

Foo. Nobody is impressed by ``my mailbox is too important'' whines.

If you're upset about replies going to your bubbles.wes.army.mail mailbox
instead of your skyking.oce.orst.edu mailbox, you should have thought about
that when you first sent mail from bubbles on October 21.

You have posted several messages to HEADER-PEOPLE, an email mailing list which
has been around for over 17 years. Not only that, but after sending the above
message you proceeded to post two additional messages to HEADER-PEOPLE, 22 and
33 minutes later, as attached below.

Mailing lists are a two-way street. If your mailbox is too important to
receive email replies, don't send email in the first place. You have already
stated your position. Saying the same thing over and over again isn't going
to change the minds of those who disagree. If you don't have anything new to
say, then drop out of the discussion; you won't get any more responses in your
Very Important Mailbox afterwards.

Date: 23 Oct 1994 14:27:02 GMT
From: John Stanley <sta...@skyking.oce.orst.edu>
Subject: Re: News vs. Email vs. News vs...
To: header...@mc.lcs.mit.edu

In article <1994102115...@prodigy.bc.ca>,
Brian Edmonds <bedm...@prodigy.bc.ca> wrote:
>Actually, if I encrypt a message and dump it onto a newsgroup, I would
>consider that to be more private than a plaintext email message

And I can package up news and distribute via mail. That doesn't make any
other piece of email I send any less private.

Date: 23 Oct 1994 14:38:19 GMT
From: John Stanley <sta...@skyking.oce.orst.edu>
Subject: Re: Harmonzing Internet e-mail and Usenet News protocols
To: header...@mc.lcs.mit.edu

In article <4ie34RiSM...@transarc.com>,
<Craig_E...@transarc.COM> wrote:
>Where I live, most mail is in fact
>public--shared among people in named groups.

Where I work, most mail I generate is private. Most mail I get is
private, too.

Where I live, almost all of it is private.

>My advice would be to abandon the mail/news distinction, and instead
>push MUA developers to ensuring that users know the difference between
>reply-to-sender and reply-to-all/reply-to-recipients.

And if the "sender" is a mailing list or USENET newsgroup? People who
think "reply to sender" is a private message and thus dump their life
histories into it, only to find that "sender" was a mail-news gateway
are going to be rather unhappy. "Hey, that was supposed to be private! I
used the private reply funtion!" "No, you used 'reply-to-sender'. There
isn't any 'private reply' function."

>on the To: field. Given that the prefix is ``netnews.'', it's unlikely
>to be part of a legitimate user's name. Should that situation arise,
>the MUA will query the message-composer as to which recipient was
>intended.

The recipient may very well have no choice. If a "helpful" mail
transport decides that it should post the message instead of passing it
to the system in the To: address, because it is more efficient, what
matters if the sender intended it to be a private message?

>> It is not acceptable to me.
>
>What would you propose, that doesn't presume that all mail is private?

Create a new set of headers, that are NOT already defined to mean
something else. For example: Also-mailed-to: and Also-posted-to:.

Of course, I suggested these already.


John Stanley

unread,
Oct 24, 1994, 9:28:58 AM10/24/94
to Mark Crispin, header...@mc.lcs.mit.edu

On Mon, 24 Oct 1994, Mark Crispin wrote:

> Foo. Nobody is impressed by ``my mailbox is too important'' whines.

Foo yourself. I don't give a shit if you are impressed or not. I have
asked you not to dump this stuff in my mailbox, and to let it wait until
I have time to deal with it in a proper manner -- that is, when I get
time to read news and have time to reply to your arguments.

You have continued to ignore that request. Why, I don't know. Maybe you
don't understand simple english.

You have chosen to participate in mail. That is your right. I have chosen
to participate in news. That is my right. Now, stop mailing me this crap.
Is that clear enough for you?

> Mailing lists are a two-way street. If your mailbox is too important to
> receive email replies, don't send email in the first place.

You sent me the first email of this exchange. I made the mistake of
replying to it. I tried to rectify that mistake, but you continue to
ignore a simple request to remove my name from your mailings. Why?

Rahul Dhesi

unread,
Oct 24, 1994, 8:43:18 PM10/24/94
to
In <4ie34RiSM...@transarc.com> Craig_E...@transarc.COM writes:

>My advice would be to abandon the mail/news distinction, and instead
>push MUA developers to ensuring that users know the difference between
>reply-to-sender and reply-to-all/reply-to-recipients.

The trouble with this discussion is that there are sharp differences
between mailing lists and Usenet newsgroups. ('Vive la Overlap' does
not imply 'Le plus des changes, le plus des meme-choses', if you will
pardon my French.) In the context of a Usenet newsgroup 'reply to
sender' has some meaning (interpretation: send private reply to author
of posting). But 'reply to recipients' has no meaning in this
context.

The correct choice, when discussing email vs News, is between 'send
private reply to author' and 'post public follow-up'. A follow-up is
never sent to any specific people. A follow-up, from the point of view
of the person posting it, has no specific recipients. Anybody who
chooses to read that follow-up -- and there is no predefined list of
such people -- becomes a recipient. Usenet is far more dynamic than
may appear at first sight.

You might call this a trichotomy:

1. Send private response to original author.
2. Send public response to all recipients, if you can identify them.
3. Send public follow-up to various news spool directories, where
countless unidentifiable people will have access to it.
--
Rahul Dhesi <dh...@rahul.net>

Leslie Mikesell

unread,
Oct 23, 1994, 11:06:43 PM10/23/94
to
In article <38dsgr$r...@gaia.ucs.orst.edu>,
John Stanley <sta...@skyking.OCE.ORST.EDU> wrote:

>>Where I live, most mail is in fact
>>public--shared among people in named groups.

>Where I work, most mail I generate is private. Most mail I get is
>private, too.

Just out of curiosity, do you not have groups of people with common
interests where you work or do they have a better way than email to
communicate?

Les Mikesell
l...@mcs.com

John Stanley

unread,
Oct 25, 1994, 8:40:28 AM10/25/94
to
In article <38cvpm$7...@usenet.srv.cis.pitt.edu>,

James C Deikun <jcds...@pitt.edu> wrote:
>If private and public
>messages are already both supported, what of any importance is this
>unification supposed to be blurring?

If the nose of the camel is already in the tent, why worry about the
rest of him coming in?

>Mechanisms to reply publicly and privately already exist in both news
>and mail reading software. I still am not quite sure how using the
>same mechanism of making the same distinction with two different
>underlying protocols is supposedly going to confuse the hell out of
>users.

Users are already confused enough. You can't imagine how they will get
more confused when news comes to them through the same program that
private messages do?

>Public/private is *not* the same as news/mail, a fact you seem unable
>to accept.

For many people, that is the distinction, a fact that all the experts on
every system they know about don't want to accept.

>Mailers that leave Newsgroups: headers in mail in reply to news articles
>are broken. Period.

Yes, I have already said that. They exist, however, and ignoring them
and doing the wrong thing with someone's mail because their admin
installed a broken newsreader is not the correct answer.

>When news and mail started using one header
>format, and mail replies to news were first supported, it immediately
>became a matter of common sense (that a lot of people apparently
>failed to catch on to) to keep the possible sets of headers for mail
>and news, if not identical, at least mutually consistent.

They are.

>The current behavior of certain newsreaders is wrong, has always been
>wrong, and ought to be fixed.

Yes. Your point?

>As for "helpful" mailers, mailers aren't any more confused by the
>current practice than are a lot of users.

One current practice is to name the mailbox for a mail-news gateway
something like comp.mai...@some.site.com. I have had a helpful
mailer take mail addressed to such a username and post it to the
newsgroup. The only problem with this is that the hostname part of the
address was in a completely different domain. This is a violation of the
RFC's for mail handling. It did it anyway, however.

I have no doubt that, should "Newsgroups:" be defined in mail to mean
"post this to these groups, too", someone will program their mailer to
process this header even if they aren't the site the mail is being sent
to. Since creating this new header for mail will not automatically
change the known behaviour of existing newsreaders, it is almost
guaranteed that people who think they are making private replies will
wind up with their mail posted to news.

Of course, creating new headers that contain the information you want
(and, for the slow readers, changing software to honor and create those
headers) will not have such a problem.

John Stanley

unread,
Oct 25, 1994, 8:42:33 AM10/25/94
to
In article <v03000100aad045e7884a@[128.102.17.23]>,
Dave Crocker <dcro...@mordor.stanford.EDU> wrote:
>Many newsgroups are contained within special bounds, such as a company.
>These are very much NOT public.

Considering the number of public newsgroups and the number of private
newsgroups any company is likely to have, public vastly outweighs the
private.

Rahul Dhesi

unread,
Oct 25, 1994, 1:56:53 AM10/25/94
to
In <MailManager.78...@Ikkoku-Kan.Panda.COM> M...@panda.COM
(Mark Crispin) writes:

>You have posted several messages to HEADER-PEOPLE, an email mailing list which
>has been around for over 17 years. Not only that, but after sending the above
>message you proceeded to post two additional messages to HEADER-PEOPLE, 22 and
>33 minutes later, as attached below.

>Mailing lists are a two-way street....

(So are email/Usenet gateways, wherein lies the problem.)

It's a pity that the 'header-people' see everything in email. I believe
this is why so many of them do not see the Usenet users' vastly
different perspective. Usenet is very different from mailing lists.
Gatewaying Usenet to a mailing list is like gatewaying an elephant to
its legs.

(Visualize the famous elephant picture, with different people feeling
different parts of the beast. The header-people see only the legs.)
--
Rahul Dhesi <dh...@rahul.net>

John Stanley

unread,
Oct 25, 1994, 10:43:38 AM10/25/94
to
In article <IiezJUSSM...@transarc.com>,
<Craig_E...@transarc.COM> wrote:
>Excerpts from internet.header-people: 23-Oct-94 Re: Harmonzing Internet
>e-m.. John Sta...@skyking.oce (1654)

>
>> >My advice would be to abandon the mail/news distinction, and instead
>> >push MUA developers to ensuring that users know the difference between
>> >reply-to-sender and reply-to-all/reply-to-recipients.
>
>> And if the "sender" is a mailing list or USENET newsgroup? People who

>A truly broken gateway.

No, a properly working gateway. Gateways that claim that I mailed a
message when I did not are broken. Gateways that don't tell you that
mail came from them are hiding the fact that the mail came from them.

>By the way, ``sender'' wasn't meant to mean
>contents of the Sender: field.

That is why "sender" is in quotes.

>> The recipient may very well have no choice. If a "helpful" mail
>> transport decides that it should post the message instead of passing it
>> to the system in the To: address, because it is more efficient, what

>> matters if the sender intended it to be a private message?
>
>It's the sender who has the choice. I don't understand this at all.

That's right. I meant to write "the sender may very well have no
choice."

>If the mail transport is posting rather than mailing, it's broken.

That's right, but it happened. But when there becomes a "standard" that
says that a "newsgroups" header means mail is supposed to be (or
already was) posted, you will be hard pressed to say that that same
transport is broken. "That header says it will be posted, so what's the
problem if I do it here?"

>What problem are we trying to solve? Coding around a broken transport
>layer that posts rather than mails?

No. Preventing things from breaking when someone creates a new meaning
for existing headers.

Dave Crocker

unread,
Oct 23, 1994, 2:16:53 PM10/23/94
to John Stanley, header...@mc.lcs.mit.edu
At 10:29 AM 10/21/94, John Stanley wrote:
>News is always a public medium.

News is always for GROUP communications, but there is a very big difference
between having a conversation in a group and having one in public. A
product planning meeting is group-based, but certainly isn't public.

Many newsgroups are contained within special bounds, such as a company.
These are very much NOT public.

d/

--------------------
Dave Crocker
Brandenburg Consulting Phone: +1 408 246 8253
675 Spruce Dr. Fax: +1 408 249 6205
Sunnyvale, CA 94086 Email: dcro...@mordor.stanford.edu


John Gardiner Myers

unread,
Oct 25, 1994, 11:40:14 AM10/25/94
to
Rahul Dhesi <dh...@rahul.net> writes:
> of posting). But 'reply to recipients' has no meaning in this
> context.
>
> The correct choice, when discussing email vs News, is between 'send
> private reply to author' and 'post public follow-up'. A follow-up is
> never sent to any specific people. A follow-up, from the point of view
> of the person posting it, has no specific recipients. Anybody who
> chooses to read that follow-up -- and there is no predefined list of
> such people -- becomes a recipient.

This is really no difference than with mailing lists--a
reply/follow-up to a mailing list is not necessarily to any predefined
list of recipients. In many cases, anybody who chooses to read the
reply/follow-up can pick it up from a list archive.

Rahul Dhesi <dh...@rahul.net> writes:
> In <78267823...@nifty.andrew.cmu.edu> Chris Newman
> <chr...@CMU.EDU> writes:
>
> >At CMU, we store mailing lists in publicly readable (non-netnews)
> >mailstores. Therefore this is not a fundamental difference between
> >the objects -- merely a common implementation difference between
> >mailing lists and usenet.
>
> A better description of your implementation is needed.

The address "arpalists+h...@andrew.cmu.edu" is subscribed to
the header-people mailing list. Any mail sent to this address gets
delivered to the folder named "internet.header-people", where it can
be read by anyone on the system.

sta...@skyking.OCE.ORST.EDU (John Stanley) writes:
> Users are already confused enough. You can't imagine how they will get
> more confused when news comes to them through the same program that
> private messages do?

As I've mentioned, andrew.cmu.edu has been doing this for about eight
years now, with no significant confustion problems. The
public/private distinction is made through the namespace, not through
the program.

Rahul Dhesi <dh...@rahul.net> writes:
> It's a pity that the 'header-people' see everything in email. I believe
> this is why so many of them do not see the Usenet users' vastly
> different perspective. Usenet is very different from mailing lists.
> Gatewaying Usenet to a mailing list is like gatewaying an elephant to
> its legs.
>
> (Visualize the famous elephant picture, with different people feeling
> different parts of the beast. The header-people see only the legs.)

Having worked with an integrated news/bboard/mail system for several
years, I visualize the "news is fundamentally different" folks like
this. Most Usenet users have used vastly different interfaces for
accessing news and mail, they think they must therefore be
fundamentally different. It's like they only see two legs, one marked
"mail", the other "news". Look up.

--
_.John G. Myers Internet: jg...@CMU.EDU
LoseNet: ...!seismo!ihnp4!wiscvm.wisc.edu!give!up

Keith Moore

unread,
Oct 25, 1994, 3:52:34 PM10/25/94
to John Stanley, header...@mc.lcs.mit.edu, mo...@cs.utk.edu
>
> Users are already confused enough. You can't imagine how they will get
> more confused when news comes to them through the same program that
> private messages do?

But this problem (public versus private traffic) already exists, and needs to be
solved, in a pure-email world. While we're at it it may make sense to address
email-news integration at the same time.

Seems like the thing to do is to explicitly distinguish "public" traffic from
"private" traffic in the message format, regardless of what transport is being
used. For news this extra header would always appear; for email, it would only
appear on lists.

Of course this solution wouldn't help matters in the short term. But there
doesn't appear to be a short-term solution anyway.

--
Keith Moore NETLIB development group
Computer Science Department / University of Tennessee at Knoxville
107 Ayres Hall / Knoxville TN 37996-1301
Let's stamp out encryption export laws in our lifetime.

James C Deikun

unread,
Oct 25, 1994, 6:13:28 PM10/25/94
to
In article <38iubs$7...@gaia.ucs.orst.edu>,

John Stanley <sta...@skyking.OCE.ORST.EDU> wrote:
>In article <38cvpm$7...@usenet.srv.cis.pitt.edu>,
>James C Deikun <jcds...@pitt.edu> wrote:
>>If private and public
>>messages are already both supported, what of any importance is this
>>unification supposed to be blurring?
>
>If the nose of the camel is already in the tent, why worry about the
>rest of him coming in?

Mailing lists and mail<->news gateways are not the "nose" of the camel.
The "whole camel" is already happily entrenched in the "tent." There
is no difference in principle between these things and actually reading
mail and news with the same reader.

>>Mechanisms to reply publicly and privately already exist in both news
>>and mail reading software. I still am not quite sure how using the
>>same mechanism of making the same distinction with two different
>>underlying protocols is supposedly going to confuse the hell out of
>>users.
>
>Users are already confused enough. You can't imagine how they will get
>more confused when news comes to them through the same program that
>private messages do?

For any user who gets mailing lists, or any user whose sysadmin makes
announcements of any kind via mail, public messages have already come
to them through the same program that private messages do. For anyone
who's used a BBS, this is likewise true. It's not as if this is a
revolutionary new concept.

>>Public/private is *not* the same as news/mail, a fact you seem unable
>>to accept.
>
>For many people, that is the distinction, a fact that all the experts on
>every system they know about don't want to accept.

I submit that this is not going to cause any more confusion than the
ability to send private mail through rn already does. News and mail
are already partly integrated in the same interface, yet the user
still has to learn to use two different programs, and, if he or she
can't figure out how to set his or her editor, often ends up using
two COMPLETELY different interfaces to perform the same function.
I don't understand what kind of reasoning leads you to proclaim that
this is LESS confusing than unification.

>>Mailers that leave Newsgroups: headers in mail in reply to news articles
>>are broken. Period.
>
>Yes, I have already said that. They exist, however, and ignoring them
>and doing the wrong thing with someone's mail because their admin
>installed a broken newsreader is not the correct answer.

A good kludge for now would be to zap the Newsgroups: header or modify
it to something on the order of Part-of-a-discussion-originally-on:
(although I'm not sure what the use of the latter would be) if the
unified mail/news reader cannot verify the existence of the message
as news. This would be done while importing messages to local storage,
which Pine (among other mailers) does.

This of course would be wasteful and not 100% accurate, but it would
be wrong less of the time, could be dispensed with if the great
majority of all newsreaders ever end up fixed, and might even help to
bring an earlier end to this thread. :-)

>>When news and mail started using one header
>>format, and mail replies to news were first supported, it immediately
>>became a matter of common sense (that a lot of people apparently
>>failed to catch on to) to keep the possible sets of headers for mail
>>and news, if not identical, at least mutually consistent.
>
>They are.

The presence of a Newsgroups: header in a news article means the
article was posted to the indicated newsgroups. Thanks to bad
newsreaders, and as you repeatedly emphasize, in current practice
the presence of a Newsgroups: header in mail currently means no
such thing. This is obviously an inconsistency, if you use any
sane brand of logic, and ought to be fixed.

>>The current behavior of certain newsreaders is wrong, has always been
>>wrong, and ought to be fixed.
>
>Yes. Your point?

If you don't get it by now, I have my doubts you ever will.

>>As for "helpful" mailers, mailers aren't any more confused by the
>>current practice than are a lot of users.
>
>One current practice is to name the mailbox for a mail-news gateway
>something like comp.mai...@some.site.com. I have had a helpful
>mailer take mail addressed to such a username and post it to the
>newsgroup. The only problem with this is that the hostname part of the
>address was in a completely different domain. This is a violation of the
>RFC's for mail handling. It did it anyway, however.

This is why I would like to see that role belonging to Newsgroups:
instead of To:. One particular broken mailer does not necessarily
indicate a fundamental problem with the endeavour of unifying the
interface to mail and news, any more than the existence of MS-DOS
shows the futility of providing computers with operating systems.

>I have no doubt that, should "Newsgroups:" be defined in mail to mean
>"post this to these groups, too", someone will program their mailer to
>process this header even if they aren't the site the mail is being sent
>to. Since creating this new header for mail will not automatically
>change the known behaviour of existing newsreaders, it is almost
>guaranteed that people who think they are making private replies will
>wind up with their mail posted to news.

Since the Newsgroups: header would be a MESSAGE header rather than
specifically a mail header, and since it's not used by SMTP, and
simply because of the semantics of it, the sender/posters site not
only would be justified in handling the header, but would be
unjustified in NOT handling the header if it has performed some
sanity checks to make sure it is not including such headers as
the result of someone's broken newsreader screwing up.

>Of course, creating new headers that contain the information you want
>(and, for the slow readers, changing software to honor and create those
>headers) will not have such a problem.

It would be preferable in creating a truly unified interface to make
sure that at least the *internal* representations of mail and news
are self-consistent and unified. Handling brokenness is the
prerogative of a preprocessing step.

--
James Deikun, University of Pittsburgh
#include <std_disclaimer.h>

It would be so nice to get the newspaper in one's mailbox.

Peter da Silva

unread,
Oct 25, 1994, 4:48:09 PM10/25/94
to
In article <QifGPSy00...@andrew.cmu.edu>,

John Gardiner Myers <jg...@CMU.EDU> wrote:
> As I've mentioned, andrew.cmu.edu has been doing this for about eight
> years now, with no significant confustion problems. The
> public/private distinction is made through the namespace, not through
> the program.

Exactly. There's a significant difference between a broadcast and a multicast
list, but that can be maintained independantly of the header. Both the
statement that unification is undesirable and the statement that the two
mechanisms are basically the same are nonsense.

Broadcast entities, particularly distributed broadcast entities, are open
in a way that even systems like fidonet echoes don't see... and don't have
to deal with. Can you imagine someone posting

I AM THE TERROR THAT FLAPS
NO CARRIER

multiple times to multiple fido echoes, or mailing lists, or moderated groups
for very long before the offending site was cut out of the feed? Can you
imagine a cascade being sustained in a mailing list?

The difference is: there's no single point of control (moderator, mailing
list root, nodelist) for unmoderated newsgroups. And no single point of
failure. Good or bad, this is a fundamental difference between the two
entities. This is independant of the user interface, the transport mechanism,
or even the server software. You can certainly set up a local newsgroup that
functions just like a mailing list with any of the news software packages.

But somewhere in the combination of the Usenet software, the Usenet flood fill
algorithm, and the net's worldwide distribution something quite different
from any of these has been created.
--
Peter da Silva `-_-'
Network Management Technology Incorporated 'U`
1601 Industrial Blvd. Sugar Land, TX 77478 USA
+1 713 274 5180 "Hast Du heute schon Deinen Wolf umarmt?"

James C Deikun

unread,
Oct 25, 1994, 6:20:04 PM10/25/94
to
In article <Cy7sI...@rahul.net>, Rahul Dhesi <dh...@rahul.net> wrote:
>It's a pity that the 'header-people' see everything in email. I believe
>this is why so many of them do not see the Usenet users' vastly
>different perspective. Usenet is very different from mailing lists.
>Gatewaying Usenet to a mailing list is like gatewaying an elephant to
>its legs.
>
>(Visualize the famous elephant picture, with different people feeling
>different parts of the beast. The header-people see only the legs.)

I am on a number of mailing lists, and read a number of newsgroups.
I read this forum of discussion as comp.mail.headers. I see no
fundamental difference between Usenet and mailing lists, only a few
details. This is not owing to lack of a Usenet user's "vastly
different perspective." Your ad hominem argument fails to hold any
more water than most such do.

--
James Deikun, University of Pittsburgh
#include <std_disclaimer.h>

Quick, someone mention Hitler!

John Stanley

unread,
Oct 24, 1994, 5:24:10 PM10/24/94
to
In article <38f8c3$q...@venus.mcs.com>, Leslie Mikesell <l...@MCS.COM> wrote:
>Just out of curiosity, do you not have groups of people with common
>interests where you work or do they have a better way than email to
>communicate?

Of course there are groups with common interests. Face to face is
generally how they communicate. Why should they have to stoop to email?

James C Deikun

unread,
Oct 25, 1994, 6:34:14 PM10/25/94
to
In article <38j5iq$k...@gaia.ucs.orst.edu>,

John Stanley <sta...@skyking.OCE.ORST.EDU> wrote:
>In article <IiezJUSSM...@transarc.com>,
> <Craig_E...@transarc.COM> wrote:
>>A truly broken gateway.
>
>No, a properly working gateway. Gateways that claim that I mailed a
>message when I did not are broken. Gateways that don't tell you that
>mail came from them are hiding the fact that the mail came from them.

This sort of information was what the Sender: header was meant for.
The From: header and the Reply-To: header (if any) should still point
to you, since gatewayed or not the message is still FROM you.

All private reply functions on mailers I've seen use Reply-to: if
present, From: if not. With a proper gateway this should not break.

>That's right, but it happened. But when there becomes a "standard" that
>says that a "newsgroups" header means mail is supposed to be (or
>already was) posted, you will be hard pressed to say that that same
>transport is broken. "That header says it will be posted, so what's the
>problem if I do it here?"

There is no problem. Where else would the responsibility for posting
it lie?

>>What problem are we trying to solve? Coding around a broken transport
>>layer that posts rather than mails?
>
>No. Preventing things from breaking when someone creates a new meaning
>for existing headers.

We are, you aren't. You're trying to make sure no one creates a new
meaning for existing headers. You have offered absolutely no solutions
to the problems that might occur if someone does, yet you have made no
convincing arguments that these problems are insoluble. You can only
point to broken implementations. This shows absolutely nothing other
than your pessimism and your ability to whine. Make an argument with
generality and maybe you'll convince someone.

--
James Deikun, University of Pittsburgh
#include <std_disclaimer.h>

We tend to scoff at the beliefs of the ancients. But we can't scoff at
them personally, to their faces, and this is what annoys me. --Jack Handey

Leslie Mikesell

unread,
Oct 24, 1994, 6:14:15 PM10/24/94
to
In article <38h8lq$k...@gaia.ucs.orst.edu>,

In my organization they tend to be located in different states, often
one person per state. We can only afford face-to-face a few times
a year.

Les Mikesell
l...@mcs.com

Message has been deleted

Mark Crispin

unread,
Oct 25, 1994, 8:13:42 PM10/25/94
to John Stanley, header...@mc.lcs.mit.edu
Perhaps this is a good example to debunk the foolish notion that email and
news are somehow different worlds. Throughout this entire exchange, I
have particpated solely as a member of header-people. Obviously, there is
now a newsgroup that gateways header-people mail, and Stanley does not
realize that when he posts to that newsgroup he also send mail to a wider
audience.

Nonetheless, I don't like getting flamed for replying to mailing list
mail, even if the flamer does so out of ignorance.

On Mon, 24 Oct 1994, John Stanley wrote:
> Foo yourself. I don't give a shit if you are impressed or not. I have
> asked you not to dump this stuff in my mailbox, and to let it wait until
> I have time to deal with it in a proper manner -- that is, when I get
> time to read news and have time to reply to your arguments.

Are you aware that you are ``dumping stuff'' into my mailbox? Has it
dawned on you that you are SENDING MAIL, to the header-people mailing list?

I am not reading this thread in news. I am reading it in mail, on the
header-people mailing list, and I send a mailing list response. Live
with it.

> You have continued to ignore that request. Why, I don't know. Maybe you
> don't understand simple english.

Once again, you claim that I ``don't understand simple english''. This
time, you lace your message with vulgarities. I have no interest in doing
anything to make life easier for you until you learn a more civilized form
of discourse.

> You have chosen to participate in mail. That is your right. I have chosen
> to participate in news. That is my right. Now, stop mailing me this crap.
> Is that clear enough for you?

I understood perfectly well what you are saying. Now, try to understand
why you are not going to get your wish:

I am not going to keep a list of special people who post to mailing lists
but are not to get replies, and manually remove such people each and every
time I send a reply. I will use my mailer's reply command. If you don't
want to receive replies to mailing list messages that you post, there are
headers that accomplish this function. Read RFC-822.

> You sent me the first email of this exchange.

Wrong. Get off your high horse. You have sent email to the header-people
mailing list for quite some time. Today, there were 5 or 6 messages from
you in my mailbox, all sent to the header-people mailing list.

You, sir, engage in the very activity that you so vehemently denounce.

> I made the mistake of
> replying to it. I tried to rectify that mistake, but you continue to
> ignore a simple request to remove my name from your mailings. Why?

Your demand is inane. It indicates that you can't be bothered to learn
what you are doing, or that not all environments match yours. The burden
is on you to know what you do, and to learn that not everyone uses the
same system as you.

Just maybe, if satori has dawned, you may have come to understand what is
happening, that you have been flaming me without just cause, and that you
have been a jack-ass. You may then receive the next bit of enlightenment,
which is that your model of news and mail is false.

You have demonstrated very effectively the incorrectness of your
understanding of news and mail. The situation which arose (and I know
quite well how and why) did so due to mechanisms completely unrelated to
the handling of the Newsgroup: header. Your proposed solutions would not
have prevented it in the slightest.

Yes, I am being hard-nosed at this point. But you have been a nasty
insulting jack-ass with no provocation. You would be best off realizing
that you have been a jack-ass, and apologizing for your insults.

The fact that this exchange occurred indicates that there is an
email/news integration problem of much greater depth than has been
examined in this thread so far. You perhaps, were a victim of this
problem; but so was I, and I resent you dumping your anger on me.

If you can admit your mistake, then you can start being part of the
solution instead of continuing to be part of the problem.

Keith Moore

unread,
Oct 25, 1994, 8:31:55 PM10/25/94
to Peter da Silva, header...@mc.lcs.mit.edu, mo...@cs.utk.edu
>
> Broadcast entities, particularly distributed broadcast entities, are open
> in a way that even systems like fidonet echoes don't see... and don't have
> to deal with. Can you imagine someone posting
>
> I AM THE TERROR THAT FLAPS
> NO CARRIER
>
> multiple times to multiple fido echoes, or mailing lists, or moderated
> groups for very long before the offending site was cut out of the feed?

Actually, I can, at least on a mailing list. Especially on a peered list
that happened to strip Received headers. (there used to be a lot of them).

> Can you imagine a cascade being sustained in a mailing list?

Yes, on a large unmoderated list. I've actually seen this happen (though
probably not to the extent it happens on usenet).

> The difference is: there's no single point of control (moderator, mailing
> list root, nodelist) for unmoderated newsgroups. And no single point of
> failure.

There are other differences that contribute. The number of participants in a group
has a lot to do with it. It only takes one person to make a group useless, and
the larger a group, the greater the probability that there will be such a person in
the group. (For major usenet groups this probability approaches 1.) But this
happens on large mailing lists also.

Also, the lower the signal to noise ratio in a group, the less valuable
it is, so there's less effort expended to keep the group membership in line.

Not that I completely disagree with what you are saying, just that the locus
of control is not the only important factor.

> But somewhere in the combination of the Usenet software, the Usenet flood
> fill algorithm, and the net's worldwide distribution something quite different
> from any of these has been created.

...just as every mail system is different than every other one. A LAN mail system
that provides (e.g.) true receipt confirmation, cancellation of messages, reply to
sender only (no ability to reply to sender and all recipients), will produce a very
different set of expectations (== different "culture") than (e.g.) the Internet
mail system. Just because we call them both "email" doesn't mean they're the same.

No doubt there are some who would argue that we should not connect LAN mail systems
to the Internet, because of the culture clash that results. But there are many
incentives to do so, and eventually we will end up refining the Internet mail
protocols to accomodate LANs (e.g. new MIME content-types, delivery notifications,
etc.) and perhaps re-defining expectations of service for both (give up some LAN
mail features that don't work in a WAN environment, but add other features that are
feasible).

Keith