[vcf-midatlantic] Off Topic: Confirmed fix for your messages being in an attachment

David Riley fraveydank at gmail.com
Thu Jul 1 12:12:08 UTC 2021

On Jul 1, 2021, at 05:58, Tony Bogan via vcf-midatlantic <vcf-midatlantic at lists.vcfed.org> wrote:
> Doug, I got what you were saying. You neither said nor implied that you wanted HTML email to “liven up the emails” or to add additional formatting. It was clearly to avoid what is most certainly an annoying circumstance with all the mime attachments and a detrimental one with the loss of data as you mentioned (something I was not aware of as I have not gone back to look at emails other than those saved in my own inbox or folders I use to organize archived emails)

I think there are a lot of subjective reasons for/against formatted email (I’m ok with it in a lot of contexts), but my biggest beef especially when it comes to mailing lists is that email (as in the RFC822 format) is really built for plain text. There are a lot of hacks built around it to enable inclusion of formatting, but they aren’t universally adopted or supported everywhere. Unsurprisingly, it tends to be older Microsoft decisions that break things the worst (including the entire email as a series of MIME attachments just seems passive-aggressive at best).

Think of it like TV. When color TV debuted, they made it work in a fully backwards-compatible way with older sets by sticking the color information in a corner of the frequency spectrum where the old sets wouldn’t really even notice it, let alone display visible artifacts. They *could* have done something similar to this with email, though the analogy falls apart (color information in TV is about 1/4 the bandwidth of the brightness, whereas formatting has the potential to be several times the actual text in some cases), but they chose to not choose and Let The Market Work It Out, and here we are today.

Anyway. On many mailing lists on these here internets, you’ll make a lot more friends by making sure your email client can send plain text properly, not least because a lot of mailing list software just doesn’t handle all the weird varieties of HTML emails properly when it forwards them.

- Dave

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