[Ads-l] Garbling (Re: on national grammar day)

David Champion dgc.ads at BIKESHED.US
Thu Mar 24 20:11:41 UTC 2016

* On 24 Mar 2016, David Champion wrote: 
> I'll de-lurk for this - finally a topic I'm not an abject amateur in!
> This isn't a problem with e-mail apps, it's a problem with LISTSERV,
> which is frankly a rather antiquated piece of list management software
> that frequently does not follow e-mail norms or standards.
> Most of the garbling I see here is an equal symbol followed by two
> (hexademical) digits, which is a form of encoding called "quoted
> printable" or QP. It protects non-ASCII content such as accented
> characters, smart quotes, and emoji during ASCII transport.  It's great,
> and almost all e-mail software supports it.
> However, there's a rule for indicating that a message is QP-encoded.  If
> the message has a header:
> 	Content-Transfer-Encoding: quoted-printable
> then it will be properly decoded.  If it doesn't, then it _shouldn't_ be
> decoded.  If you see these "garbled" messages, it's because your client
> is aggressive in assuming QP encoding even when it's not explicit.

I misspoke - rather, if you see messages correctly that others see as
garbled, then it's because your e-mail software aggressively assumes QP

You can see this yourself, by the way, if you have the ability to edit a
garbled message in its raw form and then view the result.  Just add the
"Content-Transfer-Encoding: quoted-printable" header above to the top of
the saved message, before any blank lines.  When you view the result, it
will decode correctly.

> LISTSERV is either QP-encoding e-mail and not inserting that header, or
> it's removing that header from QP-encoded mail.  (Sometimes this happens
> under the moniker of "de-MIMEing" or "MIME defanging".  It's a primitive
> yet effective way of blocking e-mail-based malware.)  Anyway, that's why
> we see the garbling on the list.  It's something that UGA's LISTSERV
> admins need to resolve.
> Best,
> David

David Champion • dgc at bikeshed.us

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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