should we use plaintext for message?

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Re: should we use plaintext for message?

Gerard E. Seibert
On Fri, 20 Mar 2020 08:02:19 -0600, @lbutlr stated:

>On 19 Mar 2020, at 00:16, Philip Paeps <[hidden email]> wrote:
>> On 2020-03-18 09:51:45 (+0800), Wesley Peng wrote:  
>>> Following this guide:
>>> https://useplaintext.email/
>>>
>>> Shall we use plaintext message in regular email communication?  
>>
>> You should use what the content of the message needs modulo your
>> recipients' wishes.
>>
>> I personally prefer to receive plain text but I don't mind receiving
>> conservatively marked up HTML email (e.g. emphasis, hyperlinks,
>> tables, ... even embedded images if the message requires them).
>> Others may (will) have other preferences.  
>
>The problem with the position is that many people feel their messages
>RECQUIRE their colorful signature, large corporate logo, and 14 line
>of meaningless “This message is private communication… blah blah”
>
>(I use to post those emails to sites like pastern and send the person
>the link, but now I just delete them unread)
>
>> In my experience, plain text suffices for the vast majority of
>> mailing list discussions.  
>
>And in the very few cases where an image is required it is better to
>link to the image.
>
>Once you allow any image or HTML it becomes impossible to limit it to
>only the necessary formatting.
>
>> Trying to force people to limit themselves to plain text is not a
>> productive use of anyone's time.  
>
>That’s why the best solution is for the mailing list to simply strip
>all attachments and also reject messages that do not have text/plain
>parts. This takes no time and no one needs to waste time or be
>bothered about it and there’s also no one to complain to since it’s
>all automated.
>
>The people who really can’t deal without having their pink text
>handwriting font on a lime green background with an animated gif
>attached will either adapt or go away.
>
>script execution error (#127): sh: line 7:

Honestly, I fail to see why receivers of HTML based emails seem to
feel they have a right to get themselves into a hissy fit and dictate
what type or form of email is permissible? Who made them GODS?

When I receive an email, I have two immediate choices to make; either
read it or don't read it. From there, I can choose to save or archive
the message, delete it or potentially forward or reply to it. I have
yet to understand this hatred of HTML email. Perhaps the recipient has
Autophobia. Maybe it is related to Trypophobia. Perhaps it is something
entirely different. In any case, who cares?

Personally, I prefer basic plain text. However, working for a
municipality has caused me to use HTML quite frequently. The adage "A
picture is worth a thousand words" is certainly relevant to this.

In any case, I have so many more meaningful and useful things to
accomplish, that I just do not have the time to waste on such a
frivolous and doomed from the start attempt at convincing others that
there is only one acceptable way to do things and it is mine.

Don't like HTML; then don't use it. However, you don't have the right
to tell others what then can do. The last time I checked, there was no
RFC against it. Simply blacklist the sender, the site or whatever and
get on with your life.

--
Gerard
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Re: should we use plaintext for message?

Jaroslaw Rafa
Dnia 20.03.2020 o godz. 11:48:59 Gerard E. Seibert pisze:
>
> When I receive an email, I have two immediate choices to make; either
> read it or don't read it.

Let's say I decide to read it, so I press ENTER on the message header.
If it's plaintext, I continue straight on to reading it.
If it's HTML (without corresponding alternate plaintext part), I see only a
bunch of unreadable HTML tags. Sometimes even whem plaintext part is
present, it's formatted as everything-in-one-long-line, which is also hardly
readable.
Then I have to back out to message index, display attachment list for the
message, find the HTML part and press ENTER on it to launch web browser and
view the message in browser.
So it's much more effort needed to read HTML-only mail compared to
plaintext.

> I have
> yet to understand this hatred of HTML email.

Is it easier to understand now? :)
--
Regards,
   Jaroslaw Rafa
   [hidden email]
--
"In a million years, when kids go to school, they're gonna know: once there
was a Hushpuppy, and she lived with her daddy in the Bathtub."
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Re: should we use plaintext for message?

Richard Damon
In reply to this post by Gerard E. Seibert
On 3/20/20 11:48 AM, Gerard E. Seibert wrote:

>
> Honestly, I fail to see why receivers of HTML based emails seem to
> feel they have a right to get themselves into a hissy fit and dictate
> what type or form of email is permissible? Who made them GODS?
>
> When I receive an email, I have two immediate choices to make; either
> read it or don't read it. From there, I can choose to save or archive
> the message, delete it or potentially forward or reply to it. I have
> yet to understand this hatred of HTML email. Perhaps the recipient has
> Autophobia. Maybe it is related to Trypophobia. Perhaps it is something
> entirely different. In any case, who cares?
>
> Personally, I prefer basic plain text. However, working for a
> municipality has caused me to use HTML quite frequently. The adage "A
> picture is worth a thousand words" is certainly relevant to this.
>
> In any case, I have so many more meaningful and useful things to
> accomplish, that I just do not have the time to waste on such a
> frivolous and doomed from the start attempt at convincing others that
> there is only one acceptable way to do things and it is mine.
>
> Don't like HTML; then don't use it. However, you don't have the right
> to tell others what then can do. The last time I checked, there was no
> RFC against it. Simply blacklist the sender, the site or whatever and
> get on with your life.
>
But, when you are using a mailing list, the list owner has the right to
decide what gets sent on THEIR mailing list.

--
Richard Damon

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Re: should we use plaintext for message?

Gerard E. Seibert
In reply to this post by Jaroslaw Rafa
On Fri, 20 Mar 2020 17:07:00 +0100, Jaroslaw Rafa stated:

>Dnia 20.03.2020 o godz. 11:48:59 Gerard E. Seibert pisze:
>>
>> When I receive an email, I have two immediate choices to make; either
>> read it or don't read it.  
>
>Let's say I decide to read it, so I press ENTER on the message header.
>If it's plaintext, I continue straight on to reading it.
>If it's HTML (without corresponding alternate plaintext part), I see
>only a bunch of unreadable HTML tags. Sometimes even whem plaintext
>part is present, it's formatted as everything-in-one-long-line, which
>is also hardly readable.
>Then I have to back out to message index, display attachment list for
>the message, find the HTML part and press ENTER on it to launch web
>browser and view the message in browser.
>So it's much more effort needed to read HTML-only mail compared to
>plaintext.
>
>> I have
>> yet to understand this hatred of HTML email.  
>
>Is it easier to understand now? :)

No, it doesn't. I don't know what you are using for an MUA, I employ
'claws-mail' myself when working in a non MS Windows environment. CM
will display the HTML just fine without any additional effort on my
part. I CAN configure it not to do so; however, that then is my choice
and not the senders problem. In fact, it is never the senders problem.
If they insist on sending mail in a format you are not happy with,
blacklist them and move on. Life is too short for all this agita.

As someone else stated, on a mailing list, the admin can configure it
to send mail in whatever format they like. If the sender doesn't like
the decision, they can walk away. Again, no need for an extended period
of anxiety.

--
Gerard
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Re: should we use plaintext for message?

Ben Lavender
In reply to this post by @lbutlr
I prefer text/plain myself, it gets rid of all the annoying marketing
images and silly fonts people like to use. It also proves a point that
modern day marketing of nice long mail signatures with company branding
on them can be pointless when milters and antispam services remove most
of them anyway.

It also reduces messages sizes as well.

On 20/03/2020 14:02, @lbutlr wrote:

> On 19 Mar 2020, at 00:16, Philip Paeps <[hidden email]> wrote:
>> On 2020-03-18 09:51:45 (+0800), Wesley Peng wrote:
>>> Following this guide:
>>> https://useplaintext.email/
>>>
>>> Shall we use plaintext message in regular email communication?
>> You should use what the content of the message needs modulo your recipients' wishes.
>>
>> I personally prefer to receive plain text but I don't mind receiving conservatively marked up HTML email (e.g. emphasis, hyperlinks, tables, ... even embedded images if the message requires them).  Others may (will) have other preferences.
> The problem with the position is that many people feel their messages RECQUIRE their colorful signature, large corporate logo, and 14 line of meaningless “This message is private communication… blah blah”
>
> (I use to post those emails to sites like pastern and send the person the link, but now I just delete them unread)
>
>> In my experience, plain text suffices for the vast majority of mailing list discussions.
> And in the very few cases where an image is required it is better to link to the image.
>
> Once you allow any image or HTML it becomes impossible to limit it to only the necessary formatting.
>
>> Trying to force people to limit themselves to plain text is not a productive use of anyone's time.
> That’s why the best solution is for the mailing list to simply strip all attachments and also reject messages that do not have text/plain parts. This takes no time and no one needs to waste time or be bothered about it and there’s also no one to complain to since it’s all automated.
>
> The people who really can’t deal without having their pink text handwriting font on a lime green background with an animated gif attached will either adapt or go away.
>
> script execution error (#127): sh: line 7:
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now officially [OT]; was Re: should we use plaintext for message?

cderr
-----BEGIN PGP SIGNED MESSAGE-----
Hash: SHA256

On 3/20/20 3:29 PM, Ben Lavender wrote:

> I prefer text/plain myself, it gets rid of all the annoying
> marketing images and silly fonts people like to use. It also proves
> a point that modern day marketing of nice long mail signatures with
> company branding on them can be pointless when milters and antispam
> services remove most of them anyway.
>
> It also reduces messages sizes as well.
>
> On 20/03/2020 14:02, @lbutlr wrote:
>> On 19 Mar 2020, at 00:16, Philip Paeps <[hidden email]>
>> wrote:
>>> On 2020-03-18 09:51:45 (+0800), Wesley Peng wrote:
>>>> Following this guide: https://useplaintext.email/


Dipping into this thread (sorry, i haven't read *all* the posts) to
share my own preferences as well as ask a question.

i do my best to configure *all* my email clients to only send in
plain-text -- i use multiple clients (debian GNU/linux on my desktop
and a Samsung Android phone) though it's starting to feel like a bit
of a losing battle.

The thing is, i'm now intentionally subscribed to receive email
correspondence from a bunch of places (Barnes&Noble, CAC.org, Edgar
Cayce's ARE, The Shift Network, and many others) that send HTML email.

On sylpheed, claws-mail and kmail, when the message *doesn't* have a
plaintext fallback duplicate message included (and/or when B&N forgets
to include the "view this message in a browser" simple link), i'm
stuck, sometimes unable to view *any* content in the message (unless i
open up a web-client for the particular service (gmail or gmx.com)
that delivers my email or pull my phone out to view the message there).

On the "guide" at the bottom of what i quoted from the thread above, i
saw that sylpheed was in the second stanza of clients (not the first
that have plaintext sending auto-configured properly). Which is
confusing to me. Can sylpheed really have the ability to compose and
send HTML messages when it won't reliably display them?!?!?!?

Maybe debian bundles in an older version than is current which doesn't
have the functionality i'm looking for? (the ability to display HTML
messages properly when possible).
Version 3.7.0 (Build 1185) is what i'm running (on currently stable
debian (on three different computers)).

   thanks much in advance for any insight, and apologies for the
non-postfix related "noise",
       ~c


- --
Charlie Derr   Director, Instructional Technology 413-528-7344
https://www.simons-rock.edu Bard College at Simon's Rock
Encryption key: http://hope.simons-rock.edu/~cderr/
Personal writing: https://medium.com/@cderr   Pronouns: he or they
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Re: should we use plaintext for message?

Darac Marjal
In reply to this post by Jaroslaw Rafa


On 20/03/2020 16:07, Jaroslaw Rafa wrote:
Dnia 20.03.2020 o godz. 11:48:59 Gerard E. Seibert pisze:
When I receive an email, I have two immediate choices to make; either
read it or don't read it.
Let's say I decide to read it, so I press ENTER on the message header.
If it's plaintext, I continue straight on to reading it.
If it's HTML (without corresponding alternate plaintext part), I see only a
bunch of unreadable HTML tags. Sometimes even whem plaintext part is
present, it's formatted as everything-in-one-long-line, which is also hardly
readable.
Then I have to back out to message index, display attachment list for the
message, find the HTML part and press ENTER on it to launch web browser and
view the message in browser.
So it's much more effort needed to read HTML-only mail compared to
plaintext.

Your User-Agent header states that you're using Mutt. Did you know that Mutt has some very good options when it comes to viewing HTML mail?

Firstly, there's the "alternative_order" directive. This takes a list of MIME types and, when the body of an email has alternative types, Mutt picks the first one on the list to display. So, in other words, if you set this to "text/plain text/enriched text/html" then you get the lightest-weight version by preference; if you set it to "text/html text/enriched text/plain", then you get the most full-featured one by preference.

Next up, there's the "auto_view" directive. This takes a list of MIME types which, instead of being presented attachment-like are presented as body. So you can list "text/html", "application/pdf" even whatever the abomination is that Microsoft Word's documents are registered as :) But how can Mutt display PDFs, DOCXs and so on? This is where your ~/.mailcap file comes in. This is a great file for registering viewers for MIME types. So, for example, I have the following in my Mailcap:

  text/html; uconv -f %{charset} < %s | elinks -dump 1 -dump-width 130 -dump-color-mode 0 -dump-charset utf-8 -default-mime-type text/html -config-dir ~/.mutt/ ; nametemplate=%s.html ; copiousoutput
  application/msword; antiword %s; copiousoutput
  application/pdf; pdftotext %s -; copiousoutput

Here, I use elinks to dump the HTML to text, antiword to dump Word documents to text and pdftotext to do "what it says on the tin". The "copiousoutput" flag means that the command is likely to produce more than a few lines of output. Mutt will invoke these filters on an "auto_view" MIME part and use the output as body text.

My point being that if you're seeing HTML tags when reading email, you've probably just not configured your MUA correctly.


      
I have
yet to understand this hatred of HTML email.
Is it easier to understand now? :)

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Re: should we use plaintext for message?

Bob Proulx
Darac Marjal wrote:
> This is where your ~/.mailcap file comes in. This is a great file
> for registering viewers for MIME types. So, for example, I have the
> following in my Mailcap:
...
>   application/pdf; pdftotext %s -; copiousoutput

I suggest using the pdftotext -layout option.  It can significantly
improve the look of the result.  Without that option it can have an
effect similar to runnings 'strings' on a binary file and is useful
but often word soup too.  But with the -layout option it tries to
recreate the original layout.  For just typical things like invoices
and documentation and such the -layout option can give a surprisingly
good representation.  Give pdftotext -layout a try.

I am using this:

  application/pdf; /usr/bin/pdftotext -layout %s -; copiousoutput; test=test "$DISPLAY" = ""; description=Portable Document Format; nametemplate=%s.pdf

Note: By using the DISPLAY test it means I only get this action if I
am not using a graphical display.  Such as when logged in using ssh.
But if I am using a graphical display then the graphical clients
listed in /etc/mailcap will be used instead and I will see the
graphical rendering of it.

  grep application/pdf /etc/mailcap

This isn't a mutt list and we have already gone off topic from Postfix
but since I said the above I will continue for one more tidbit and
then stop.

The auto_view can work but getting a configuration that is nice as
defined by the user can be difficult.  Instead if one 'v'iews the MIME
parts, selects the part such as text/html or application/pdf and then
uses 'm' to view-mailcap on the selected MIME part then it will run
the mailcap defined action regardless of the auto_views configuration.
I find that strategy to be more universial as some software distros
have patched mutt in this area making each of them behave differently
with regard to MIME part viewing by default and auto_views.  But using
'v' and 'm' work uniformly across them.

Regardless of being able to deal with non-plain-text email fairly well
I still much prefer plain text email.  Plain text is best.

I keep threatening some of the worse offenders that I am going to
draw my response in crayon, scan in the image, and send back my
responses that way, as my preferred visual rendering!

Bob
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Re: should we use plaintext for message?

황병희-2
In reply to this post by Wesley Peng-11
Wesley Peng <[hidden email]> writes:

> ...
> Shall we use plaintext message in regular email communication?

If somebody use Linux/*BSD, i would like to accept HTML messages with
pleasure! Because most Linux/*BSD users send messages as plaintext. It
was just personal opinion.

Sincerely, Byung-Hee

--
^고맙습니다 _白衣從軍_ 감사합니다_^))//

12