202212160543.AYC Re: eMail Conventions

Jethro Binks jethro.binks at strath.ac.uk
Fri Dec 16 15:37:19 UTC 2022


Since you ask, and it's coffee time on a Friday, I'll chip in.  This is not an invitation for an extended conversation; take or leave what I say below as you wish, but note my remark at the end.  The only other general remark I'd make is observe what others do; these are the usual norms for email conversations that you should probably adopt for friction-free discussion.

> As you can see, my practice of continuously prefixing timestamps to the "Subject" line of messages in a thread seems to conform to ThunderBird's mechanism!

I don't know about Thunderbird; but this is one of the things that you do that likely irks people.  Your message already carries a Date: field added to it by your email system when you compose and send (and displayed to recipients), you don't need to put another date in the Subject.  By changing the subject each time you respond to a point in the discussion, you mess up the threading that some other mail readers use -- they often rely on the Subject being, modulo a few accepted changes, the same for each related message -- although there are techniques other than relying just on Subject: too.  Just hit "reply" and type your response to someone's comments, perhaps appropriately quoting the direct points you are responding to (that's a whole other topic).

By messing with threading, you also make it very hard for people to look back on the list archives and read the totality of the discussion as historical record, which, if you're proposing changes to the operation of the Internet and its addressing, they may wish to do.

You don't need to put your initials there either.  We know it's from you.  The email system adds a From: header with your name and displays that to recipients.

If you use (e.g.) "202212160543.AYC" as some sort of 'letter reference' for your own purposes, I'd suggest just stating that in the body of the message, maybe at the bottom out of the way, rather than butchering the Subject: field.

You don't need to add "(2022-12-16 10:04 EST)" and similar after your name signature.  The sending time and timezone are all stored in the message automatically when you send it.  No-one receiving it cares that you might have written it at 10.04 and sent it a minute or an hour later.

> my best understanding of an eMail is that it is an electronic equivalent of the traditional postal letter.

Not so much.  And anyway, because it's on a computer, the computer can automatically do things for you that you used to have to do manually.  Like adding the date and your name.  It's your own time you are wasting adding these things, but the more you irk people (and it doesn't take much), the less likely they are to engage with what you are trying to communicate and so the chances of you progressing your case diminish.


.  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .

Jethro R Binks, Network Manager,

Information Services Directorate, University Of Strathclyde, Glasgow, UK

The University of Strathclyde is a charitable body, registered in Scotland, number SC015263.

From: NANOG <nanog-bounces+jethro.binks=strath.ac.uk at nanog.org> on behalf of Abraham Y. Chen <aychen at avinta.com>
Sent: 16 December 2022 15:05
To: nanog <nanog at wjp.net>
Cc: NANOG <nanog at nanog.org>; Chen, Abraham Y. <AYChen at alum.MIT.edu>
Subject: 202212160543.AYC Re: eMail Conventions

Dear Bill, Et al.:

0)  Ever since I signed up to the NANOG List, I have been getting
complaints about my eMail style, format, etc. Since I could not find any
document that clearly stated the guidelines and no one cared about
providing an explicit lead, it has been a very frustrating experience.
As I explained previously, my best understanding of an eMail is that it
is an electronic equivalent of the traditional postal letter. We should
start from following the old business correspondence protocol and then
enhance it by taking advantage of the available electronic facility.
Beyond that, an eMail is a literary work from an individual writer's own
"creativity". A receiver can do anything possible about handling an
eMail, but should refrain from imposing "rules" to the writer, unless
there is a mutual consent. From time to time in the past, I did get
questions from various contacts about what was I doing. Upon describing
my rationales, most accepted them. Some even started to mimic my
approaches. However, feedback on this List was exceptionally strong, it
was quite distracting. Thus, I tried my best to minimize the rough
spots, so that we could carry on the technical discussions.

1)  "On 2022-12-01 23:54, nanog wrote: ...  1) Your emails do not
conform to the list standards (changing subject lines with every reply
making it impossible to digest or follow.) ...   ":

   The above from you was the most recent feedback that I got. It
stirred up my curiosity on this topic again. Since I had some slack time
during the past few days, I decided to look into the "threading". I have
been using ThunderBird eMail client software ever since its
introduction, but never bothered about using its Message Threads
facility because my own subject line tagging technique seemed to be
sufficient. After a bit of fiddling, I was able to get ThunderBird to
display messages organized in threads. Below is one such example. As you
can see, my practice of continuously prefixing timestamps to the
"Subject" line of messages in a thread seems to conform to ThunderBird's
mechanism! Now, I would appreciate very much to see an example of how
your eMail system handles the message threads. So that we can compare
notes. Thanks,

Q. E. D.

Happy Holidays!

Abe (2022-12-16 10:04 EST)

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