Great Circle Associates List-Managers
(February 2000)

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Subject: Re: Oversized emails?
From: Chuq Von Rospach <chuqui @ plaidworks . com>
Date: Tue, 8 Feb 2000 14:52:16 -0800
To: mavery @ mail . otherwhen . com, list-managers @ GreatCircle . COM
Cc: cnorman @ best . com
In-reply-to: <38A03763.22629.43116C@localhost>
References: <38A03763.22629.43116C@localhost>

At 3:33 PM -0600 2/8/2000, Mike Avery wrote:
>  HTML BAD!!!
>  Big messages BAD!!
>  Sending that crap without asking permission first - VERY BAD!!!

One our of three isn't bad. HTML isn't bad. big messages aren't bad. 
sending either without the person saying it's okay -- that's bad, 
although even then, the answer is "it depends".

When Amazon moved their update subscriptions to supporting HTML, they 
converted all their subscriptions to HTML, and gave people a way to 
change back. Another service that's currently working on adding the 
same functionality, but which shall remain nameless, looked at the 
same issue, and decided to leave everyone on the text version of the 
publication, and to set things up to make it easy to switch to HTML 
if they want it.

it all comes down to which choice is better for your audience. I 
know, for instance, that a recent survey of subscribers to a certain 
mailing list system on what those subscribers wanted, 50% asked for 
an HTML version, and 20% didn't care, leaving only 30% who preferred 
the text-only option. And frankly, if you're sure 70-80% of your 
users are going to want to change to HTML, then it *does* make sense 
to switch everyone over and ask the others to switch back, on the 
principle of doing what is best for the largest part of your 
population. Yes, you'll honk off some folks -- but whatever you do, 
including nothing, will honk off some part of a group. So decisions 
need to get made by the principles of least-harm/most-good.

to say "html bad" is very, oh, 1996. maybe 1997. HTML, when well 
done, is very good. In fact, for a general audience, I could make a 
good argument that not even bothering with a text-only list would be 
okay. Yes, 20% of users prefer text-only, but the percentage of those 
who'd do without is much smaller than that, depending mostly, of 
course, on how interesting the content is.

Chuq Von Rospach - Plaidworks Consulting (
Apple Mail List Gnome (

And they sit at the bar and put bread in my jar
and say 'Man, what are you doing here?'"

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