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Re: Lack of prefix in public-semweb-lifesci Subject line makes it difficult to recognize origin

From: Bob Futrelle <bob.futrelle@gmail.com>
Date: Sat, 28 Jan 2006 06:54:40 -0500
Message-ID: <71d02ff70601280354m705268b4v755d7186cc5573ec@mail.gmail.com>
To: simon@w3.org
Cc: hclsig-pub <public-semweb-lifesci@w3.org>

This note is for Simon J. Hernandez who handles mailing lists at W3C,
among many other things.

Point being that the  points I made below resulted in about 20 emails
in the public-semweb-lifesci@w3.org list. Many of the notes discussed
changing settings on their email clients to allow them to distinguish
mail from public-semweb-lifesci@w3.org from other incoming mail.  But
a number did agree that having the list administrator set a prefix for
the subject line would work in every single client, since they all
show the leading portion of the subject line in their summaries.

Personally, I take advantage of this option in every GNU Mailman list
that I run at Northeastern U. for my various  classes and research
groups. This option in Mailman is considered so important that it is
included on the very first of the 20 list management pages, the
General Options page.  It is explained in Mailman as follows:

"subject_prefix (general): Prefix for subject line of list postings.

This text will be prepended to subject lines of messages posted to the
list, to distinguish mailing list messages in in mailbox summaries.
Brevity is premium here, it's ok to shorten long mailing list names to
something more concise, as long as it still identifies the mailing

Essentially all the discussion of this issue in this list so far has
focused on the client side.  I think that a number of us would like to
see a solution from the mailing list server side, the list management
side.  A short prefix such as [pub-sw-lifesci] sounds reasonable.  If
such could automatically be added to all outgoing list mail then we
would be able to identify mail from "unknown parties" who turn out to
be people  addressing the list. Personally, in this day and age, I
have to be suspicious of email I get from people I don't know, with
perhaps a subject that doesn't make it clear that it's from this list.
 A prefix would also help me make a quick decision as to whether I
want to open the mail now or later as I scan my bulging inbox.

As an example, Protege at Stanford supports four mailing lists, each
with a brief identifier automatically prefixed to the subject line. 
I'm sure that some members of this list are on Protege lists and are
familiar with this.

The point of this mail is to bring Simon into the discussion from the
mail server management side.

For the record, here's the info I found on list admin and Simon:

W3C Mailing List Administrivia

Simon J. Hernandez


Thanks all,

  - Bob Futrelle

On 1/24/06, Bob Futrelle <bob.futrelle@gmail.com> wrote:
> Most mailing lists, such as Protege and the various gnu mailman lists
> I run, have a prefix in the subject line that gives a quick indication
> of the origin of the mail. Without it, I get mail from people I've
> never heard of, which is in fact being sent via
> public-semweb-lifesci@w3.org.
> Typical subject line from Protege as seen in Eudora:
> "[protege-owl] Re: installing_build241"
> I 'umbly suggest that this would be a useful addition to this mailing list.
>  - Bob
> --
> Robert P. Futrelle
>     Associate Professor
> Biological Knowledge Laboratory
> College of Computer and Information Science
> Northeastern University MS WVH202
> 360 Huntington Ave.
> Boston, MA 02115
> Office: (617)-373-4239
> Fax:    (617)-373-5121
> http://www.ccs.neu.edu/home/futrelle
> http://www.bionlp.org
> http://www.diagrams.org
> http://biologicalknowledge.com
Received on Saturday, 28 January 2006 11:54:48 UTC

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