Great Circle Associates List-Managers
(April 1998)
 

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Subject: Re: HTML-enabled mailing lists
From: Lawrence Weeks <dev @ dm2 . deskmedia . com>
Date: Tue, 7 Apr 1998 02:28:07 -0500
To: "'List-Managers @ GreatCircle . COM'" <List-Managers @ GreatCircle . COM>
Cc: "Woodrick, Ed" <ewoodrick @ ed-com . com>
In-reply-to: <116338B0A28AD1118E6400AA005B102B04F521 @ pumba . ed-com . com>; from Woodrick, Ed on Wed, Apr 01, 1998 at 09:28:45PM -0500
References: <116338B0A28AD1118E6400AA005B102B04F521 @ pumba . ed-com . com>

Once upon a time (Wed Apr 01), Woodrick, Ed wrote:

> Why do yall go through so much trouble to not utilize existing
> Internet messaging standards?

The point of a mailing list is to exchange information with other
people, just the same as a web page. The web has standards, such as
HTML, so everyone can communicate. A browser (or, if you're Microsoft,
the operating system) parses HTML as a minimum cost of entry. However,
this is not true of email. The bare minimum for email is plain old
text. The point of a mailing list, in general, is to enable a large
number of people to communicate with one another effectively. Why
complicate things needlessly? What's the point? To send a message in
a pretty color or font? Why, and at what cost? As I say to people who
advertise their brand new heavily "optimized" for brand X browser
web page, what's your goal? To showcase and promote a proprietary
technology and limit your web page to less than half the web? Shouldn't
your goal be to communicate effectively with the most people possible?

This is the primary reason I reject all HTML email. It offers no real
value on a mailing list, and unnecessarily complicates communications.
Likewise, I reject email with attachments. If you want to make a
nicely formatted document available, don't send it to a thousand
people, of whom maybe 10% actually want to see it. Send a URL.

But there's a very pragmatic side too: I don't want to archive it,
back it up on tape, index it for searching, etc. Your message was
over 6200 characters long, let's break that down. The plain text of
what you actually wrote was ~ 1152 bytes. You quoted ~ 1143 bytes of
the original message (I know, netiquette on quoting is archaic). And
your HTML took up the rest, ~ 3756 bytes.

So, of the 6K, only 1K or so was actually worthwhile. If everybody
did the same, that's a lot of wasted bytes. Let's say the mailing
list has 1000 subscribers, and 100 messages a day... that adds up
really fast, on the delivery side, on the archival side, and what
value does it really add? We can have fonts and colors and bold and
italic text. Wow. Thanks, but no thanks.

> HTML is here to stay. If you want to provide a service to you list
> users, then you probably should start thinking about how to work
> WITH your subscribers than against them.

Yes, educate them as to when it is appropriate to use the latest
whiz-bang technology, and when not to. Just because you *can* send
bloated HTML email, doesn't mean you *should*. I've never had a list
member complain about not being able to send HTML email, and have
had lots of them thank me for filtering it out.

Larry
--
Lawrence Weeks      "Audaces fortuna juvat."      dev @
 deskmedia .
 com


Follow-Ups:
References:
Indexed By Date Previous: Re: HTML-enabled mailing lists
From: "Michael C. Berch" <mcb @ postmodern . com>
Next: Re: HTML-enabled mailing lists
From: johnjohn @ triceratops . com
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From: Norbert Bollow <nb @ thinkcoach . com>
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