W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > www-style@w3.org > January 2012

Re: Forums

From: Brad Kemper <brad.kemper@gmail.com>
Date: Mon, 9 Jan 2012 09:10:16 -0800
Message-Id: <6F8D91FD-DE88-4460-A78A-BBB8A70B4331@gmail.com>
Cc: "www-style@w3.org" <www-style@w3.org>
To: Felix Miata <mrmazda@earthlink.net>
On Jan 9, 2012, at 3:44 AM, Felix Miata <mrmazda@earthlink.net> wrote:

> On 2012/01/07 10:51 (GMT-0800) Andrew Fedoniuok composed:
> 
>> It appears that the list is tend to use fixed font formatted
>> messages. Far not all mail clients are good with that.
> 
> Non-plain text email message proponents seem to forget that the graphical web we know today did not always exist, and that email predates it by much more than a decade.

Yes, just as Netscape 1 predates Chrome 35 (or whatever ridiculous number they are up to now).

Most people update their systems and Web browsers at least once every decade. By your own admission above, those with text-only mail clients have had even more time to get with it. Are we really to believe that active participants in a CSS advancement mailing list do not have access to e-mail that can render HTML?

> To expect the type of users for whom email was originally developed to change those environments for which email was originally created and remains equally functional (e.g. fixed font text terminals, speech generators, fixed font printers) in order to accommodate non-text and proportional font extensions would be an untenable and unwarranted hijacking of an established system that lacks an appropriate alternative.

You could also say:

"To expect the type of users for whom the Web was originally developed to change those environments for which the Web was originally created and remains equally functional (e.g. Mosaic running on really old hardware) in order to accommodate HTML5 and CSS3 would be an untenable and unwarranted hijacking of an established system that lacks an appropriate alternative."

You might reply that Mosaic can still access the basic information in modern Web pages, albeit in what would usually be an almost unreadable form, but that is no better than extracting the text from an HTML e-mail for reading in an ancient e-mail client. And what about Gopher? It was more text-oriented, but people were able to migrate from that to the HTML rendering of the World Wide Web.

> Therefore those who use the SMTP system to transmit what are in effect web pages must expect that some people will be unable to make sense of such transmissions, and that if maximum likelihood of intelligible reception is desired, anything more than plain (fixed font) text in the message is best avoided. IOW, if you don't know the recipient both can and cares to accept web pages via SMTP, the right thing to do until such time as you know otherwise is to send only plain text.

And that is why no one ever uses bold or italics or color or embedded pictures in any of their email today. Oh wait, that's not true. Almost all of the e-mail we receive today has HTML in it, and only a few people still bury their head in the sand and refuse to acknowledge that the world has moved on.

As a person trying to communicate through e-mail, I am more concerned about my ability to include nuance and readability and context via formatting and well placed pictures (and, on this list, of visual examples of CSS-formatted HTML). Someone who says they don't care about "accepting web pages via SMTP" is really saying they don't care about taking an infinitesimal effort to try to understand what I am trying to communicate. I have no sympathy for that point of view.

> With mailing lists, it's usually the case that plain text is explicitly either preferred or mandatory, not just a tendency.

That is an argument for a Web based interface then, if there is something intrinsic about mailing lists that makes them so limited and crippled. I don't agree that the choices are so limited.
Received on Monday, 9 January 2012 17:10:48 GMT

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