Great Circle Associates List-Managers
(December 1993)

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Subject: Re: A question of philosophy
From: Keith Moore <moore @ cs . utk . edu>
Date: Mon, 06 Dec 1993 14:51:26 -0500
To: Chris Seabrook <cds @ ossi . com>
Cc: list-managers @ greatcircle . com, moore @ cs . utk . edu
In-reply-to: Your message of "Mon, 06 Dec 1993 10:05:19 PST." <199312061805 . KAA07918 @ foucault . ossi . com>

> 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.

Interesting.  My own opinion is that reply-to is best reserved for use
by the sender of the original message, to allow him to override the default 
behavior for that list.  

In some environments the default reply command addresses a reply to the
sender and all recipients.  In others, replies are addressed to the sender
only.  Many of the user complaints I've heard are related to a clash between
the two "cultures" -- users from each environment expect lists to behave a
certain way.

In the first case there is rarely a need for the list manager to do anything
to ensure that replies (by default) go to the list -- the list address is
already in a To or CC field of the message header.  (Though sometimes (sigh)
this address is that of some site's "local interface" to a list rather than
the address of the list itself.)

We have had a different problem here.  Several of our lists are intended for
announcements rather than for discussion.  These lists grew up in a VMS MAIL
environment (where replies go to the sender only).  After migrating both the
users and the lists to UNIX and Internet mail, many users embarassed
themselves by sending replies of a sensitive or personal nature to the entire
department!  The eventual solution (besides an attempt at user education) was
to make the list expander optionally (on a per-list basis) rename the to
and cc headers to x-original-to and x-original-cc.  The from address remains
that of the sender, and a new to header field is added, using the 822 group
syntax, with the preceeding phrase containing the name of the list.

This solution has been very successful, resulting in practically no
complaints and general approval from those few users sophisticated enough to
understand what was going on.  The only problems we have observed were an
occasional bounced message from some picky MTA at another site, complaining
about a message that had already gone through a broken sendmail, which had
appended an @domain to the group in the To header field.

Keith Moore

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