[svlug] Email length

Emmanuel-Robert Mayssat emayssat at valinux.com
Mon May 15 09:44:21 PDT 2000

ok, you are right ( or almost ! ). 
The RFC doesn't say anything about MUA.
It states a MIME standard. A poorly written MUA can not be MIME complient.
What I understand is that a well written MUA should support at least 
997 char/line.

ALso a standard that says "press enter every 76 char" is obviously not
user friendly. You may say, you can do it by filtering your outgoing 
email in par or such, but what is the default behaviour of netscape
( or MH or Mutt ... ) ?

A better way to enforce 76 char/line would be to configure the MTA 
( mail server ) to do the job.

4 lines signature ... I think I remember this convention ( elm ? ) but AFAIR
this convention was used not to clutter the true content of the email.
It means " be nice with the readers ", but it is truly up to the sender.

Please argue! ;-)


| Date: Sun, 14 May 2000 23:56:46 PDT
| From:  Marc MERLIN <marc_news at valinux.com>

 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...

| Robert-Emmanuel Mayssat                      @ VA Linux, Inc       |
| https//vaweb.valinux.com/~emayssat           Desk # : 408/542-8759 |

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