Great Circle Associates List-Managers
(March 1999)

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Subject: Re: Putting the listname on the Subject line
From: Jeremy Blackman <loki @ maison-otaku . net>
Date: Mon, 8 Mar 1999 02:04:24 -0800 (PST)
To: list-managers @ GreatCircle . COM
In-reply-to: <>

On Mon, 8 Mar 1999, Stan Ryckman wrote:

> I'm not sure what it means to be "in violation of" a non-standards RFC.

Not much, I think.  I don't know of many listservers that correctly
implement RFC1153 (mailing list digests) in all its glory.

Realistically, the subject tag should NOT be used for sorting, for the
reasons mentioned earlier in this thread (primarily that, if you're doing
procmail filters on that and someone sends a private reply and doesn't
remove the tag, and you don't have exceptions in your rule for mail
addressed directly to you, it will end up flagged as from that list).
Doubly so since not all mailing list packages will add the subject tag if
the subject line is blank.  (Majordomo, for example.)

However, in fairness, sorting on the To: line isn't always feasible (what
if the list is in Cc: or worse, Bcc:).  Something like an 'X-list: <list>'
header makes it easier to sort on for Procmail users, but people using
Yahoo or other free/limited e-mail services often only have the ability to
create filters based on To:/From:/Cc: and Subject substrings.  As From: 
will usually be different (except on a Lyris list), and To: and Cc: may
not contain the list (or, in the case of a list that can be sent to via
multiple domains, may not contain the CORRECT list address), for some
users, the subject tag -is- the only viable way to do mail filters.  It's
all well and good to say their mail tools are broken, but there's a point
at which you have to make allowances instead of saying 'you're stuck, find
your own solution'.

Moreover, if you have low-traffic lists, it's useful to have.  The Seattle
Linux List went through this discussion, and general user consensus was
that adding '[SLL]' to the subject line didn't harm anything and did help
some of the users.

Similarly, the support and dev lists for Listar are low enough traffic
that I don't wish to sort them into separate folders; I want them in my
inbox where I can see them immediately anyway.  But I do also like to be
able to immediately focus in on traffic from those lists by a simple scan
of my inbox subject listing, which subject tags allow me to do.

Listar is capable of stripping the subject tags from the subject line in
archives and digests, which is one of the main objections I've heard to
the subject tags.  I think L-Soft Listserv can do the same, and I'm pretty
sure Lyris can as well.  Majordomo couldn't internally last time I
checked, but it's a pretty trivial hack to make.  After all, digested
users don't usually need to see the subject tags; they KNOW what list the
posts were for. 

Anyway, I think they -do- have their uses, though if implemented WRONG,
they can be more trouble than they're worth.  From a software standpoint,
they should ALWAYS be _optional_, though.  Ideally, up to the user whether
or not they see them, but as that can mess up how things are sent, it
should at least be up to the admin whether or not the list uses them.

My $0.02 + state sales tax. ;)
  Jeremy Blackman / /

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