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

Benjamin Barrett mail.barretts at GMAIL.COM
Thu Mar 24 20:36:32 UTC 2016

Thank you for these follow-ups. I see that there has been some discussion about this topic.

Is there a solution that can be applied to this list? I personally use Mail for Mac, but I can imagine that given the wide variety of e-mail clients available, other configurations also have this problem.

Benjamin Barrett
Formerly of Seattle, WA
> On 24 Mar 2016, at 13:11, David Champion <dgc.ads at BIKESHED.US> wrote:
> ---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       David Champion <dgc.ads at BIKESHED.US>
> Subject:      Re: Garbling (Re: on national grammar day)
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> * 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
> encoding.
> 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

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

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