Mark_Mandel at DRAGONSYS.COM Mark_Mandel at DRAGONSYS.COM
Mon Apr 26 18:28:58 UTC 1999

Ach, I don't want to get into a flame war -- which this isn't, and I hope it
won't become one. And I don't like being on the opposite side from Andrea (or
Andre'a), whose posts have always in my recollection been helpful and polite.
And I don't like appearing to be rude, which I may have done through
carelessness or impatience, and I hope I wasn't, and I'm sorry if I was.

Sun is not Microsoft.

To be sure, I wasn't reading the organizational part of your signature line.
It's just that so blasted many folks assume that MS = standard... My miss.

     [snip discussion of email standards standard-setting process]

The emails you call plain text
are not plain text, otherwise they would never find you.  They must, at a
minimum, comply with RFC 822, the basis of all email formatting.

True, but picky. I assumed that it would be clear that I was talking about the
content of the email, not the mechanism by which it is transported.

As far as MIME is concerned - it is out of the control of most users.  Even if
your client allows you to turn off MIME (which encompasses RFC 2045-2049, plus a
few extensions, in other words, full IETF standards), some servers will reformat
your message in MIME.

Okay (sigh): MIME, then, may indeed be beyond your or many others' control. For
further discussion.

Furthermore, if you try to send 8-bit text through the
Internet (e.g. accented characters), it breaks some older transfer agents and
clients.  So those 8-bit chars must be converted to 7-bit chars, hence giving us
the transfer encodings called uuencode, base64, and, of course, quoted-printable
(if you think quoted printable is ugly, take a look at the other 2).

(Agreed on ugly and uglier.) And therefore it is a bad idea to use 8-bit text
unless it is unavoidable. The Internet was designed for ASCII, and ASCII was
designed for US English. Unfair though it may be, US English is therefore in the
enviable position of being completely transmittable through the Internet without
distortion, except such as may be introduced to handle
     word-processor characters like curly quotes
     formatting characters
     non-ASCII characters such as accented letters embedded in the text
          (e.g., as part of a name or a piece of non-English text:
           very common situations for linguists!)

Can we agree from the start that we on ADS-L are not trying to write in Chinese
(etc.)? If we were, all of us on this list would be "funneled", as it were, into
a relatively small set of software and standards designed for handling that
radically (No Pun Intended) different character set. But since we aren't, we
represent among us a very broad range of platforms and software, of varying
ages, about which our knowledge ranges from encyclopedic to minimal and over
which our degree of control ranges from total to zero.

That means that anything beyond the least common denominator of the medium is
almost guaranteed to be troublesome for some number of us ranging from one to
large-majority; and accented characters are beyond that threshold *and under the
control of each contributor*.

The fact that your mail client is unable to handle MIME is unfortunate, but it
is unfair to ask other folks to try and change something out of their control.

They could just as easily request that you get a more standards-compliant

As said above: for further discussion. If individual users actually can't
control the imposition of quoted-printable format... bleh.

  Mark A. Mandel : Senior Linguist : Mark_Mandel at
    Dragon Systems, Inc. : speech recognition : 617 796-0267
 320 Nevada St., Newton, MA 02460, USA :
                     (speaking for myself)

CAUTION: Contents under pressure.

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