Great Circle Associates List-Managers
(December 1993)

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Subject: A question of philosophy
From: bill @ biome . bio . ns . ca (Bill Silvert)
Date: Mon, 06 Dec 1993 14:29:38 -0400 (AST)
To: list-managers @ greatcircle . com

I think that having the correct reply-to address is essential to a
successful list, but whether it should be the poster or the list depends
on the kind of traffic.

For a list discussing bug reports it is generally desirable to make the
list itself be the default return address.  But for many technical
groups, you get postings like this:

Posting> Does anyone have data on growth rates of Dolus fictus?

Answer> Hi John, yes, I have the data you want.

The replies are generally so specialized that they should not go to the

Another factor is the computer sophistication of the list members.  For
this list I assume that most members know how to readdress mail, but for
many groups the above exchange will be followed by a lot of postings of
the form:

Followup> Hi John, haven't seen you for a while!  You still going out
with that crazy student with red hair?  Better make sure the chair of
your department doesn't find out!

>Date: Mon, 06 Dec 1993 10:05:19 -0800
>From: Chris Seabrook <cds @
 ossi .
>Subject: A question of philosophy
>We use a home grown script to archive mailing list posting, stamp the subject
>line with the listname and a sequence number and resend the post. The other
>thing which the script does is insert a Reply-To: <listname> header into the
>message. I elected to do this because we were seeing a lot of information
>(particularly on our local technical lists) disappearing into private email
>when people replied without looking at the headers, now all replies by default
>go to the list.
>I've been quite amused by the resction to this on the public lists we run.
>Most subscribers seem happy with it, and indeed I've received several messages
>saying how useful it is, however a small and vocal minority object to this
>strongly. I think mostly those with doubtful MUA's. The particulat combination
>I am asked for most frequently is to have list posting appear From: <author>,
>To: <request-address> and Cc: <listname>.

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