stop posting in html

Luis Villa
01 Apr 2002 10:40:18 -0500

On Mon, 2002-04-01 at 10:24, Rodent of Unusual Size wrote:
> * On 2002-04-01 at 10:04,
>   Luis Villa <> excited the electrons to say:
> > 
> > On Mon, 2002-04-01 at 05:45, wrote:
> > > 
> > > You're not getting it. The point of HTML in email is that it has no point.
> > 
> > You're not getting it either. The point is not that it has no point
> > (unless you're claiming that HTML email is somehow inherently bitless in
> > a way that the exact same content in plain-old-text isn't.) The point is
> > that it has no /cost/.
> That is very strong, and promotes growth.  Costs associated with
> rich-format email include: additional bandwidth, storage, and cycles
> to deal with the overhead of the tags; 

Cover this later :)

> time for people who don't use
> an inherently GUI MUA (even mutt [and probably pine] pops up a browser
> window, which requires a visual context switch as well as handwaving
> for focus), 

FWIW, both mutt and pine can be configured to just switch to a links
window in the same terminal. I'm fairly sure that's been the default in
pine for at least 3 years now.

> replyability for non-GUI MUA users;

pine has been able to /reply/ to html mail since like 1995; in fact, for
a long time that was the only way to read HTML mail in pine- reply to
it, and you'd get the text parsed out fairly reliably.

> indigestibility to almost every single list digester on the planet;

<shrug> It'd be perfectly digestible with a simple pipe through
html2text, in most cases, and in cases where that isn't the case, the
problem is broken standards-compliance in the rest of the email, not the
HTML itself.

> When writing to a mixed audience, you gear the content and
> presentation to reach the most people -- not the high-end ones.

The 'most' people is, and has been for some time, folks with
HTML-capable email clients, and spare cycles to use it. Yes, there are
definitely bandwidth, storage, and CPU costs to HTML mail, as you
pointed out above. On the grossly overpowered machines that Intel has
persuaded the vast majority of US users to buy, none of these are
substantive factors. People who either can't or don't want to read HTML
email are in the distinct minority, and getting more distinctly minor
every day. Is that really progress? Probably not; as eugen points out,
most HTML email adds no value, so having more people who can send HTML
email probably doesn't really equal 'progress'. But it's definitely
change (for better or for worse), and change that isn't going to reverse
itself any time soon.

> > but it also has no costs, except for the bits wasted in yelling about
> > it.
> And that's a pretty bloody significant cost.

Agreed completely :)

> > Oh, and if you're worried about 'attack angles' via email, you need a
> > real operating system.
> More handwaving.  Web bugs have nothing to do with the OS, and
> everything to do with the MUA -- and I don't know of a single MUA that
> doesn't have some sort of vulnerability exposure when reading rich
> email.  Do you?  And that's just an example.

pine + links :) And we've had only one found in evolution [knock on
wood], despite some significant efforts in that direction. Not trying to
parse javascript goes a looong way towards security in a browser/MUA.