David Woolley david at djwhome.demon.co.uk
Sun Jan 28 10:58:21 UTC 2007

[ This is not the exact version sent to Matthew ]

> One hint is that the text license-discuss at opensource.org appears in
> every email.  Is it asking so much that they then dig up the original

Whilst agreeing that people should keep records of their list

For people using user agents, like Outlook, which try and hide all
technicalities, and only provide a mimimum of headers, that's not
strictly true.  There is no strict need for it to appear in either To:
or CC: (however this particular list software enforces that it should),
and it can occur in conjunction with a human friendly phrase.

Where it does appear in every email are:

  Mailing-List: contact license-discuss-help at opensource.org; run by ezmlm
  List-Post: <mailto:license-discuss at opensource.org>
  List-Help: <mailto:license-discuss-help at opensource.org>
  List-Unsubscribe: <mailto:license-discuss-unsubscribe at opensource.org>
  List-Subscribe: <mailto:license-discuss-subscribe at opensource.org>
  Delivered-To: mailing list license-discuss at opensource.org

However, for the vast majority of the world that uses Outlook, it is 
unlikely that they will ever see these until support for them becomes
a MUST clause in a standards track RFC.  (There is a similar problem
for Precedence: List, which Outlook ignores because there is no
standards requirement that it should honour it, hence the large number
of out of office replies to list contributors from Outlook users.)

Note, therefore, that every single message contains a URL that will 
start the unsubscribe process, unless, possibly your email is being

> email, or go to that domain and look around for this unsubscribe address
> (or just guess it; it's a very common template)?

Actually, there is a problem here.  At one time, one could say send an
email to <list>-request@<domain>, in plain text, with unsubscribe as
the only content.  (It is still possible that this is an alternative
form for this list.)  However nowadays an increasing number of users
have lost the concept of plain text email, so there was a move towards
using the subject for the command, so the intruction then had to be to
make both subject and body be unsubscribe.

However, the current list uses yet another convention, namely 
<list>-unsubscribe@<domain>.  I don't know why they did this.  Maybe it
was to allow the use of mailto: URLs when some user agents would
not process the subject part.  This makes it even more difficult to 
provide a general rule as you presumably have to say address the 
preceding message to both addresses.

(Also, for some reasons, mailing list packages used by marketing 
departments tend to use the command "remove", rather than "unsubscribe",
even when they are legitimate and actual honour the command.  I guess
they think that "unsubscribe" is too technical language.

> > There are smart mailing list admins that just honor such request by rep=
> lying to the requester with the personalized link that (s)he can use

Mailing list unsubscription should never depend on the use of any links
other than mailto: ones, as that is the only medium that you can be
reasonably confident the subscriber has access to (many businesses
are more restrictive on web access than email access and web routes
may be a problem for those using assistive technology to access the 
mailing list).

> Then why did they sign up in the first place?

There is a small minority of cases were people are maliciously subscribed
in order to mailbomb them.  I don't know if that is a problem for this

> > mailing lists), and all of them, except this one, are sending
> reminders. This is an acknowledged good practice for mailing list runners=
> Acknowledged by who?

I think he means acknowledged by the people who send them!  Certainly
the majority of the lists to which I subscribe, including the W3C ones,
don't send them.

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