Message Threads

From: Mark Moore <>
Date: Fri, 16 Jul 2004 16:06:18 -0700
Message-ID: <osxypC.A.RzH.LNG-AB_at_vesta>

TWIMC, Please consider adding the ability to specify the message being replied to more directly by the user.

The way Hypermail stitches together a thread is nice, but in practice, it's fraught with errors. Random sampling five Hypermail lists shows many cases of obviously incomplete threads.

I believe a primary cause for this is that the mechanism relies (typically exclusively) on the In-Reply-To: header and the text of the subject line.

Unfortunately, A) most users are unaware of email headers, B) the headers are inconvenient to access, and C) most email packages don't provide any ability to control the headers of outgoing messages.

This leaves the user throwing away the subject line to "attempt" to attach a reply to the right thread if they don't have a copy of the original email. In case it's not obvious, this is the default case when a user wants to contribute a response to a mailing list they monitor through its archive (they don't subscribe), or when a user wants to reply to a thread that occurred before they subscribed.

A simple solution would be for the user to include a copy of the In-Reply-To: header in the body of the reply (e.g. on a line by itself, or on the first line).

Another solution might be to allow the user to specify the message ID in the subject. Although this could lead to ambiguous parsing since the subject is unstructured, with the minor exception of "Re:" and "Fwd:". In reality, this may not be a problem since message ID's are unique and fairly arcane. In addition, if no corresponding message matches the given ID, the worse that will happen is what currently does: a new thread would be started.

With this enhancement, Hypermail mailing lists will be more accurate. Better yet, respondents can then use the subject line to summarize their reply instead of repeating the subject of the original post.

Please CC me with any responses since I am not a subscriber to the hypermail mailing list.

Thanks in advance.

Mark Moore Received on Sat 17 Jul 2004 06:22:51 AM GMT

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.3.0 : Sat 13 Mar 2010 03:46:12 AM GMT GMT