[erlang-questions] 'reply-to' header in this mailing list

Bengt Kleberg <>
Wed May 18 08:14:37 CEST 2011


Another possible take on what the proper behaviour should be, is perhaps
found when thinking about the question:

Which rule minimises the amount of damage if I misunderstand it?

Say that I want to reply to one person only and use Reply-to when the
rule is to send to the whole list. It is a possible misunderstanding and
would be damaging if the email goes out to everybody.

On the other hand, I want to reply to all and use Reply-to when the rule
is to send to the author only. It is a possible misunderstanding and
only one person gets the email. I will notice this when it never reaches
the list. I can then resend it to everybody. More work, but no damage.


On Wed, 2011-05-18 at 07:35 +0200, Michael Turner wrote:
> Does anyone have any statistics on this question? That is, what
> percentage of mailing lists "do it wrong"? It's counterintuitive to me
> that  a "reply" on this mailing list is only to the individual.
> "Reply" is "Reply to the list" on every other mailing list I'm
> currently on, and on almost every mailing list I can remember being
> on. But perhaps my lifetime mailing list membership doesn't approach
> statistical significance.
> Although it may get me accused of "blindly following the herd," let me
> assert it anyway: arguments from "intuition" in commonly used software
> interfaces only work when you have statistically significant user
> support for them, not some purely formal, rule-based argument for your
> *personal* intuition. What's "intuitive" to one person may be
> counterintuitive to many. As pointed out long ago, "intuitive equals
> familiar":
>   http://www.asktog.com/papers/raskinintuit.html
> And, as pointed out even longer ago, "a foolish consistency is the
> hobgoblin of small minds." (Emerson.)
> Perhaps to some people, a mailing list is like a noticeboard in a
> mostly-empty hallway. My mental model of a mailing list corresponds
> more closely to a conversation in a classroom. When you reply to an
> open question or comment in such a context, you cannot help but be
> heard by more than one person; most likely you'll be heard by everyone
> in the room. You actually have to make a special effort (i.e., lean
> over and whisper in an ear, or pass a note) to be sure that your reply
> is private. I think this corresponds pretty closely to the intuition
> of the average mailing list user. But erlangeurs may be different, I
> don't know.
> -michael turner
> On Wed, May 18, 2011 at 8:45 AM, Richard O'Keefe <>
> wrote:
>         On 18/05/2011, at 3:07 AM, Alexander Krasnukhin wrote:
>         > Yes, yes. I've got this. People from telecom will always
>         rely on standards instead of people expectations. Good. Right.
>         Understandable.
>         That sounds a bit sarcastic.
>         The thing is that the Erlang mailing list behaves *EXACTLY*
>         the way I expect
>         a mailing list to work.
>         I expect "Reply All" to reply to everyone on the list.
>         I expect "Reply" to go just to the author.
>         I expect it to work the way mailing lists always used to work.
>         The standard in this case is not arbitrary, but part of a
>         coherent
>         design to ensure a straightforward user experience.
>         _______________________________________________
>         erlang-questions mailing list
>         http://erlang.org/mailman/listinfo/erlang-questions

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