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Re: Email Format Poll for the list

On 31 Jan 2010, at 00:46, David Godfrey wrote:
and long before I sent an email on the list I had noticed that many contributors also sent in HTML.

My belief was that the practice of sending HTML messages to this list was established only amongst newcomers, who come here looking for help & who don't know any better.

One problem with plain text and modern clients, is that text is wrapped at the senders end.
Normally to something like 72characters.
This is a huge waste of screen space where you may easily have 160 to 300 or more characters available on a modern screen.

Addressed elsewhere.

HTML also allows simple formatting changes (like this) that can often assist with readability.

It does so, only if your view and and mine *happen* to coincide on what constitutes "readability".

It is sophisticated & adult of you to choose black text as your display preference, as many people composing in HTML choose colours such as blue, green or pink.

However your text size is too small.

I have 1600x1200 monitors, each with a diagonal of c 20". I don't know what size or resolution your monitor(s) is, and I don't care, just as you shouldn't need to know the specifications of mine. When I configured my mail client preferences some years ago, I spent some minutes choosing the optimal font for viewing. It says "13 points" in my display preferences, but it would probably appear a different size on your screen; that doesn't matter - it's just best for me on my monitors, considering my operating system, viewing distance, screen resolution and optical prescription.

When you send me HTML email, you're saying "I don't care what text size you find most readable, I'm setting this one instead". The font of your last email was a few points too small and it's a little difficult for me to read.

Additionally, if we all continue to post and reply in HTML, then I can't copy a sentence of your message into mine and quote it, (like this: "The sentence before last was all one line") without either it ending up in a different format to the rest of the sentence. I then have to manually & arduously change the font, font size, and colour of the pasting to match the rest of my text. This should not be necessary, if we all just post in plain text.

I do rather feel that those of us who believe in open-source and open- standards missed an opportunity when HTML first became adopted by mainstream email clients. I believe this was initiated by Netscape Communicator in the mid- to late-1990s, and geeks simply objected to it and said "don't use that around here". Of course the mainstream didn't listen to the geeks, and an HTML email non-standard was since been made up on an ad-hoc basis over the following decade. I was a newcomer to computers myself in 1996, and didn't use OSS for another 3 or 4 years, but I can only think that *maybe* someone would have been successful if they had vigourously proposed an alternative before it was too late.

Email would benefit from the ability to designate text clearly as bold, italic or underlined, to include inline hyperlinks, to designate perhaps a word or a sentence or two as "emphasised" in some way that would normally be displayed to the reader as red or blue. But it needs this without allowing whole emails to be composed in glaring pink, or allowing the sender to specify a font size which distracts or inhibits readability (or indeed ANY font or size).

I have a client who employed a graphic designer to create fancy HTML "stationary" for his company emails. They include a number of logos (sent as jpeg images, of course) and as a consequence a one-sentence email, in which there are only a few hundred bytes of text, arrives consuming 100kb in my email box. This aspect of the client's messages is annoying, but overall the most critical problem is the imposition of font & its size upon the reader, IMO.

If you post in plain-text, no-one will think less of you for it, and no-one will filter your messages to /dev/null on the basis of that. The same cannot be said for posting in HTML.

Also: please try to post your messages as a general rule only to *one* list at a time. Surely everyone on -dev already reads -users?