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Re: Email Format Poll for the list

David Godfrey wrote:
Hi Everyone,

The reason for this poll is below (for those that are interested)

I would like to know how many people
    a) are happy to receive html
    b) prefer plain text
    c) require plain text

At the end of the week (Friday GMT+8) I will post the results

David Godfrey


Just recently I have had two people on the lists query me,
Asking if I intended to send email in HTML

Well actually, yes, I guess I did.
Partly because most people have HTML capable browsers,
and long before I sent an email on the list I had noticed that many contributors also sent in HTML.
This made me think it was not a problem.

I understand why mutt users may not like HTML, in it's standard form mutt displays the html source.
There are probably other clients that this is also a problem for.

One problem with plain text and modern clients, is that text is wrapped at the senders end.
Normally to something like 72characters.
There is a not so obvious fact about column width.
This has been known for a very long time.
All newspapers have narrow columns.
It is because the eye-brain system that humans have is very uncomfortable with wide width columns. If you don't believe me, try reading a long article in your web browser with a narrow column or the same article with a wide setting. Once you try it, it becomes clear.
It turns out that roughly 72 is close (not exactly right) to ideal.
300 characters is simply unproductive to use.
This is a huge waste of screen space where you may easily have 160 to 300 or more characters available on a modern screen. Worse is when the sender has changed the default to something large, then you often have to scroll left and right as well as up and down to see the whole message. HTML on the other hand allows for dynamic rewrapping of the text by the receiving client.
The sentence before last was all one line.
Change the width of this window, it should rewrap the text dynamically.

As I just thought about this, I realized that I was reading this with my email client fullscreen, I just manually narrowed it. It is a much nicer layout. I am going to do this for now on!
HTML also allows simple formatting changes (_/*like this*/_) that can often assist with readability.

When I first learned to use xhtml for a website, I took a particular interest in also making it accessible. It just seemed proper to learn that too. One thing I learned was that there is a huge variety of differing needs, therefore, html should only encode meaning, never style. Some people are color-blind, some (especially older people) see diminished contrast, some need bigger fonts, etc.

Basically, I think it is better to send pure, clean, well-thought out words. Anyone with special needs almost certainly has worked out their own personal solution. My "perfect" html formatting may just be a big problem to get rid of.

Anyway, I'm glad this topic came up.
I just realized I need to re-format my workspace at my end :) Narrowing my email client is good!
Either way the poll will tell us what everyone prefers.

David Godfrey


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