I think most of the arguments for/against Reply-To munging are
missing the point of running a mailing list: to promote vigorous
discussion of a particular topic among a large amount of people.
If you find that your topic is very technical, it might be best
for your list to default public replies using Reply-To. If you
find your topic leads to a more one-on-one type of spin-off
discussions, then leaving the headers intact might be the best choice.
I run two technical lists, so I've chosen to munge the Reply-To.
However, I do agree with Chip's point about losing personal author
address info, so I move any Reply-To: from the author into the From:
line. I make the assumption that if the author included a Reply-To:,
it is probably because he/she knows the From: line gets destroyed
by some mailer in the path. I've run like this for quite some time
and it hasn't proved to be a problem. In other words, no one on my
list nor any site admins have ever complained about it. I take that
as a sign of good behavior, regardless of what any RFC has to say
about it. After all, it is only an email list.
Side note: Only real problem with adding Reply-To's is sometimes
broken mail gateways, particularly cc:Mail (ugh!), seem to barf
a bounce message followed by the entire text of the list message
right into your submission address! Ouch! Ya' gotta watch your
lists carefully for this behavior.
I must take exception to the attitude of "the hell with people behind
broken gateways" and "don't coddle those with broken mailers". This
attitude does not further communication. Most of those with broken
mailers seem to be in countries that have just recently acknowledged
the western world exists. We can't just shut these people out...
they are probably very lucky to just have email access, let alone
full WWW browsing capability. They might not even speak English
very well and spend hours just composing a single message. You are
not going to be able to explain to them the finer points of a properly
No, don't take it out on the user. If you find sites with broken software,
offer to help out the admin at that site. Perhaps the admin is a new guy
just getting his feet wet. Properly worded and helpful messages can
ensure the admin will follow the "true path".
One last, unrelated comment. I've found this list to be a great help
not only from a technical standpoint, but also on a social/psychological
level as well. I like hearing about others' problems with their lists
and how they've come to deal with it, and hearing about how "communities"
have developed around their lists. List managing can be a lonely job.
However, I'm a bit perplexed at seeing the same kind of behavior on this
list that seems to be universally condemned by lists managers. Namely,
flaming, religious wars, and outright personal attacks. I'd always thought
of this group of people as the "adults" of the Internet, educating clueless
newbies and ensuring the survival of the "spirit of the net". Let's
remember that *all* of us have invested a lot of our own personal time
in our corner of the net and that we may have styles of operation that
differ from each other, but are equally valid.