Great Circle Associates List-Managers
(November 1995)

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Subject: Netiquette of mailto: URLs?
From: mcb @ postmodern . com (Michael C. Berch)
Date: Sat, 25 Nov 1995 14:35:47 +0000
To: list-managers @ greatcircle . com

Michelle Dick <artemis @
 rahul .
 net> writes:
> I'm skeptical that much can be done.  I'm working on another front:
> trying to inform people that web netiquette requires that one never
> ever ever put up a mailto: address without express consent from the
> recipient at that address.
> It's just downright rude.

Hmmmm.  This is the first time I have heard of this, and though I
don't necessarily disagree with the idea, I would not think that this 
should be raised to the level of a consensus, i.e., "web netiquette
requires."  In fact, several authoring/translation tools that I've
seen (in ads, show, books, etc.) can be configured to automatically 
generate mailto: URLs whenever they come across e-mail addresses in 
a document being converted to HTML.  I wouldn't have thought anyone
would find this objectionable, but then I was surprised about the
debate over unwanted hypertext links in the "Babes of the Web" (Toups)

The mailto: URL was sort of a hack, anyway; since it was not in early
versions of Mosaic people seem to think it is a Netscape-ism, but
actually it comes from Lynx, the text browser, and the author (Lou
Montulli) wanted people to have some way to send mail directly from
Lynx without quitting or suspending the program, since most users were on a 
non-windowing system -- if they were using Mosaic they could just cut-
and-paste the address into their mail program, but Lynx users were
likely to have only a single terminal session available. 

Personally, I don't see the difference between a plain e-mail address
appearing in a Web document and the same address converted to a
mailto: URL -- I think the real netiquette issue is how the address
(mailto: or not) is presented and whether readers are urged to send
mail to an inappropriate address (such as a list posting address
instead of a list server or -request address) by the page's author.

Michael C. Berch
mcb @
 postmodern .
 com / mcb @
 greatcircle .

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