can someone point me to the list instructions please ...

Mable Syrup blackonesugar at
Sat Aug 31 05:35:26 EDT 2013

Ah well, I'm fine with the concepts, but I wasn't getting anything to reply to.  The issue was that I was only getting digests to cut down on traffic, Now that I've reset that and I'm getting all messages individually ... :)


----- Original Message -----
From: David Woodhouse <dwmw2 at>
To: Mable Syrup <blackonesugar at>
Cc: "get_iplayer at" <get_iplayer at>
Sent: Friday, 30 August 2013, 23:10
Subject: Re: can someone point me to the list instructions please ...

On Fri, 2013-08-30 at 13:59 +0100, Mable Syrup wrote:
> I'm sure there must be something, but I can't find it.   I want to
> reply to different items in a thread in a manner that preserves the
> threading.

I don't really understand why this is an issue. It's all really really

Every mail message should have a unique "Message-Id:" header. This is
normally not displayed by your mailer, but it's almost always present.

When you reply to a message, your mailer (unless it's broken) will
insert some other headers (References: and/or In-Reply-To: headers, to
be specific), listing the unique Message-ID: of the message to which you
replied. This is the threading information. Again it isn't normally
displayed by your mailer, but it *should* be used to show the thread in
its proper order, with each reply appearing as a 'child' of the message
that it's a reply *to*.

That's it. If you want to reply to a message, do it. With a mailer that
isn't broken.

If you compose a *new* message to the list somehow, and fake a 'Re:
blah' subject line, don't act surprised when your message doesn't
*actually* show up as part of the thread, and that makes it hard for
people to deal with so they get grumpy.

Conversely, if you read an existing message and hit 'reply', then change
the subject line to something completely unrelated, don't be surprised
when people get grumpy at you for 'hijacking' an existing thread with a
completely unrelated tangent. Changing the subject does *not* remove
those hidden thread-related headers and magically disassociate your
reply from the message that you hit 'reply' on.

The other confusion is equally baffling to me. Mail programs have a
private 'reply' button which replies only to the sender, and a 'reply to
all' button which replies to everyone including all the other
*recipients* of the message to which you're replying. Simple, right?
Reply to the sender alone, or reply to all?

When replying to a mailing list message, you *usually* want to reply to
all. So use the 'reply to all' button.

There are some mailing list admins who think that their users are too
stupid to use the 'reply to all' button, and they make life hard for all
of us by muddying the waters. They misconfigure their lists to add a
'Reply-To:' header to list messages, directing that *private* reply
button back to the list itself instead of the sender.

So if you *did* want to send a private reply to the sender alone, on
such an abusively-configured list, you have to be very careful — the
list setup might trick you into sending a message which was supposed to
be *private*, to the whole list! That's a catastrophic failure mode, and
cannot be undone. On the other hand, if some muppet accidentally clicks
the private 'reply' button when they should have clicked 'reply to all',
it's easily fixed just by resending the message after pressing the right
button this time.

So try not to be confused by those evil lists with the Reply-To: header

The final confusion is about whether you should reply *only* to the
list, or to the list *and* the sender. Some people prefer not to receive
a copy of the message directly *and* via the list, and some people
definitely prefer to receive both. If in doubt, you should definitely
err on the side of *including* people rather than dropping them. Again
it's about the failure modes — does someone get two copies of a message
which mildly annoys them (but which they could have filtered out
automatically if they really cared), or do you run the risk of cutting a
non-subscriber out of the conversation *entirely* by dropping them?
For more on that topic, see

Did I miss anything?


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