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Re: [Nmh-workers] More fun with charset functions

From: Ken Hornstein
Subject: Re: [Nmh-workers] More fun with charset functions
Date: Sun, 11 May 2014 22:19:28 -0400

>  | Seems to me like looking at what other people do in the area we are weak
>  | makes sense.
>Yes, it does - provided that the purpose is so at we know what not to do.
>What made MH so useful, and caused it to still be around today, was
>largely (IMO) that its designers simply ignored the (then) current
>mail programs, and did what was right, rather than conforming to what
>people were used to.

The problem is that it depends on what your definition of "right" is.

Why don't we have as many people as we used to who are MH/nmh users?  Well,
the number one complaint is poor MIME support; the number two complaint is
lack of IMAP support.  The second one has been beaten to death, so let's
tackle the first one.

Virtually every MUA out there is more accepting of slightly damaged
MIME email than MH/nmh.  Is there anything inherent in MH philosophy
that causes this to be the case?  Well, I would argue "no" ... yes,
the designers of MH ignored current mail programs, but they did that
when implementing the interface; I don't necessarily believe they did
that when implementing the back-end mail parsing.  And MIME support
wasn't even done by the original designers; that came later.  I think
any reasonable person looking at the original MH MIME support cannot
conclude that it was 'right' for any definition of 'right', so I don't
necessarily feel that MIME parsing routines can lay any claim to being
'right' either.

These are relatively low-level technical details; what users care about
it the user experience.  Example:


Part of that was iconv lacked support for a particular character set.
The other problems were legitimate.  These are things MH never really tried
to grapple with, so I'm not sure prior art is approrpiate here.  We have
completing camps when it comes to "right": one feels rejecting all email
that is malformed is fine, the other feels that as long as we can figure out
the contents it makes sense to accept it in the MIME parser.  I'm sort of
in the middle (look at each exception on a case-by-case basis).

The question I put to all of you: who gets to decide what is "right"?


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