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[wlug] Mailing list etiquette (was Re: Sudo)

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Daniel Lawson daniel@m...
Tue Apr 5 11:31:05 NZST 2005

>I'm happy to alter my mailer to observe the netiquette you speak of. I'm 
>afraid I wasn't aware of it. What is the reason behind it, may I ask?

What is the reason behind not posting an HTML only email to a mailing list?

It's often extended to "Don't post in HTML at all", for a variety of 
reasons, some of which might be weighted more highly in this case due to 
the nature of this particular list.

When you post in HTML or RTF, or to spell it out clearly, in anything 
that isn't plain ASCII or ISO-8859, you make it significantly harder for 
people whose mailers don't understand the format you use to read your 
email. While you can feel free to inconvenience your friends as much as 
you like, you should not assume that everyone on a mailinglist will have 
the ability to read whatever non-basic format you post in.

Now, you might argue that "all modern email clients support HTML, so why 
can't I use it?". Quite simply, not everyone runs an email client that 
supports HTML. Or they've disabled it.   I'd also suggest that on a LUG 
mailing list especially, the proportion of users with email clients that 
will not parse HTML is considerably higher than on your typical mailing 

If someone does have a client that doesn't have HTML read support, or if 
they have disabled it, they end up having to read the raw HTML to read 
your post. Yes, I can parse HTML. No, I don't want to unless I'm 
developing a webpage. I'll skip an HTML only email sooner than read it, 
especially with the cluttered HTML most email clients generate. This is 
mitigated somewhat by sending HTML and plain blocks, but you don't 
really gain much from HTML emails.

Also, many people read mailing lists in digest form. HTML (and other 
formats) tend to break in digest mode. 

Basically, when posting to a mailing list, you're taking part in a 
community of peers. By sending HTML only emails, you're doing something 
equivalent to interrupting people's conversations in loud Swahili.

I have to say here that I use thunderbird, which seems to like sending 
in HTML and plain by default, and will reply to HTML in HTML and plain 
by default. This isn't my preferred choice!

>> Daniel Lawson wrote:
>>>> As humourous as this thread is, HTML mails generally are discouraged 
>>>> to mailing lists, as a form of netiquette. If you send both HTML and 
>>>> plain text, then at least a sensible reader will only show plain text 
>>>> in appropriate circumstances, however it's still not preferred. If you 
>>>> can't make your mailer send both html and plaintext, then I'd go with 
>>>> the grandparent's advice of "Fix your mailer"

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