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Re: Can anybody tell me how to send HTML-format mail in gnus

From: Xah
Subject: Re: Can anybody tell me how to send HTML-format mail in gnus
Date: Fri, 8 Aug 2008 05:35:43 -0700 (PDT)
User-agent: G2/1.0

On Aug 7, 9:59 pm, Sivaram Neelakantan <address@hidden> wrote:
> Xah <address@hidden> writes:
> > Tim X wrote:
> > «In general, HTML in mail messages is a bad thing.»
> > HTML in email is a very good thing.
> > From the technology point of view, it is far more powerful. For
> > example, it can contain links, bold text, coloring, embedded images,
> > etc. The bulkier than plain text in size, of course, but in today's
> > youtube days, this doesn't matter. Also not, if my 10 years old email
> > transmission protocol knowledge is not outdated, then email is still
> > sent by first converting to a ascii encoding. This is invented by the
> > unix folks, which is extremely inefficient.
> > From the social point of view, HTMl is also far more useful, and
> > people wants the ability to have colored text, embed images, etc. I
> > don't have stats on this, but it is my guess that 80%, or perhaps even
> > 90% of email traffics today, are in html. Human animals, collectively,
> > want it.
> [...]
> It might be old fashioned but I'd prefer the lowest common denominator
> in getting my point across varying vintage MUAs in use.  And as someone
> mentioned earlier, spam is pretty much HTML and I risk getting my mail
> binned by someone elses' spam filter.
> And if lighting up the email to get my attention is the reason for
> going in for HTML, then someone's trying too hard.
> I've received humongous HTML mails that just had one line of text in
> it.  The rest were all pictures, templates and other doodads.  Most of
> Microsoft email clients seem to be ones doing it; though there are
> ways to turn it off in them, few seem to do it.

Your preference is great. I also, actually prefer plain text email.

This shouldn't offset the need to support html mail. If you don't want
html mail, you can set up your email app to display plain text only,
or at the mail server level.

For example, if emacs's rmail support html mail, this thread wouldn't
have started.

As for spam, it's a different issue as i explained in another email.
It is true that most spams are in HTML. However, before HTML became
the standard, spams are in plain text with attachement, and before
MIME with attachemet becomes popular, spam are just plain text then.
Spam simply got worse and worse over the past 20 years i've used
email, whatever is the current tech in email. In fact, its probably
easier to detect spam in html mail than plain text. (i actually blame
the worsening of spam to tech geekers's lack of social understanding.
“Tech geeker vs Spammers”

Note here also, that many tech geekers vociferously opposed the MIME
standard, saying its bloat. It just happens, and OpenSource tools just
adopts it some 5 years later.

«And if lighting up the email to get my attention is the reason for
going in for HTML, then someone's trying too hard.»

Tech geekers like to think that way. But “lighting up the email” is
not the primary use of rich text mail. Think of the whole education
industry, online commerce, in corporate communication. The need for
rich text email is simply a necessacity.

Back in 2000, i stopped using emacs rmail, because it simply cannot
support the corporate need for email. (at the time, it was the lack of
ability to send receive attachment) In a company, they'll send MS
Word, diagrams, or whatever that needs to get the point across. Most
people in a company, are not techies. e.g. human resource department,
graphics department, etc, sometimes including your manager. You cant
even begin to tell them “why are you using html with a single line of
plain text”? Considered on the whole, it's actually good that way
because for htem to spend days to learn about the technical details,
is actually a waste of time when the whole company, society, is
considered. To force everyone in the world to learn about plain text
vs html mail and when it is right to use which, is a unnecessary

Another personal story: I needed rich text in email in around ~2002
for my server of “A Word A Day”. (it's a mailing list where i sent out
a english word a day. See
) I need coloring and highlight in the email. I was using Apple's Mail
program to send out email. At the time, Apple's Mail program does not
support sending out HTML mail. It has a rtf format based rich text
instead. However, the rtf formatted mail does not work in yahoo
groups. So, the effect is that i couldn't do highlighting. I was in a
mac mailing list at the time (lots of mac fanatics). I discussed
this... and basically got flamed. (i'm eventually ban'd in the list
for basically being too controversial)
But now, Apple Mail support HTML, and ditched its rich-text format for
email. This essay
“Plain-Text Email Fetish”
was originally one of the post there.

Another story: i have a white american friend, who is a philosopher,
currently teaching in university. (have several friends who are math
professors) These peopple usually don't know shit about programing,
but are nevertheless intelligent and knowledgable. This philosophy
friend always send me email in html, often with smily icons. I'm like,
jesus, Paul, what you have a need to fold the whole email or coloring
parts of it? It annoys me. But i can't really say that to him. It's
crazy. You can't even begin to tell them what's “wrong”. It's like
telling your grandma mouse pads not supposed to be coffee mug pads. If
you actually spend time on these things, you'll have no time to do
anything other thing in life.

in terms of modernization, there are many possible improvements with
emacs. I wouldn't have suggest support html email in rmail since it's
rather a bigger project and hopeless to convience tech geekers. Nobody
is actually using rmail for email tese days anyway except a handful of
geek clique. I myself stopped using any of the classic plain-text
email programs since early 2000. (pine, rmail, vm, gnus, mutt, unix
mail) I stopped using them because it just can't do the job anymore,
despite whatever ideology that email should be plain text. It is my
guess that most professional programers who grew up with these
programs, also stopped using them out of necessity.

if you think this is a good idea, just send a bug report to gnu then.
In emacs, under the menu “Help‣Send bug report”.

I'll prob stop discussion this issue.


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