[svlug] Email length

Marc MERLIN marc_news at valinux.com
Sun May 14 23:56:46 PDT 2000

On Thu, May 11, 2000 at 03:07:14PM -0700, Robert Mayssat wrote:
> rfc2646 ( http://www.cis.ohio-state.edu/rfc/rfc2646.txt ) 
> states that text/plain standard must support 997 char / line, 
> and that 80 is just a convention ( not the standard  ! ).

Since you seem to like RFCs, you should know that wording is very important.

The exact quote is:
3.  The Problem

   The Text/Plain  media type is  the lowest common denominator  of Internet
   email, with lines  of no more than 997 characters  (by convention usually
   no more  than 80), and  where the CRLF  sequence represents a  line break

This says that you  can't have a line of more than  997 characters, and IHO,
it only says so because of GUI mailers that don't give a shit about internet
conventions and people  who happen to use another mailer  than the one being
written by the company that thinks it's cute to have one line per paragraph

No where does  it say "MUAs MUST support text/plain  attachments of at least
997 characters", it doesn't even say "SHOULD".
What does  this mean? that the  above quote doesn't say  much useful, except
reminding that the convention/standard is no more than 80 chars/line.
(note too that MUAs that do one  line per paragraph in no way restrict their
lines to 997 chars)

The one line  per paragraph crap came for misguided  programmers who thought
that  it was  the only  way  to nicely  type  Email and  edit lines  without
worrying about  typing enter at  the end of  lines, or tediously  reformat a
paragraph by hand when  you add or remove words after  it's already been cut
to 76 chars/line.
The fact is that it is hogwash because  that's what par(1) is for (or fmt or
the built  in format command  in vim  or emacs). Besides, even  netscape can
quite nicely wrap lines at 76 chars/line without user intervention....

As it was recently mentionned on nanog, characteristics of Emails like:
- X-Mailer: outlook
- X-Mailer: MS-whatever
- signature of more than 4 lines
- lines of more than 76 characters

... are very convenient ways to score messages (i.e. to trash posts from users
you don't need to read posts from)

La culture, c'est comme la confiture...

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