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    Given that most popular email clients these days are awful and can’t handle basic tasks like “sending email” properly

    I agree with the sentiment in general, but once you’re in the position where everybody else does it wrong and you’re the last person on the planet that does it right, then maybe it’s time to acknowledge that the times have changed and that the old way has been replaced by the new way and that maybe it is you who is wrong and not everybody else.

    And I’m saying this as a huge fan of plain-text only email, message threading and inline quotes using nested > to define the quote level.

    It’s just that I acknowledge that I have become a fossil as the times have changed.

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      once you’re in the position where everybody else does it wrong and you’re the last person on the planet that does it right

      Thankfully we haven’t reached this position for email usage on technical projects. Operating systems, browsers, and databases still use developer mailing lists, and system programmers know how to format emails properly for the benefit of precise line-oriented tools.

      I acknowledge that I have become a fossil as the times have changed

      If the technology and processes you prefer have intrinsic merit, then why regretfully and silently abandon them? I’m not saying we should refuse to cooperate on interesting new projects simply because they use slightly worse development processes. But we should let people know about the existence of other tools and ways to collaborate, and explain the pros and cons.

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        If the technology and processes you prefer have intrinsic merit, then why regretfully and silently abandon them?

        Because when I didn’t, people were complaining about my quoting style, not understanding which part of the message was mine and which wasn’t and complaining that me stripping off all the useless bottom quote caused them to lose context.

        This was a fight it didn’t feel worth fighting.

        I can still use my old usenet quoting habits when talking to other old people on mailing lists (which is another technology on the way out it seems), but I wouldn’t say that the other platforms and quoting styles the majority of internet users use these days are wrong.

        After all, if the maiority uses them, it might as well be the thing that finally helped the “other” people to get online to do their work, so it might very well be time for our “antiquated” ways to die off.

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        I’d like to try to convince you that it’s _good* that plain text email is no longer the norm.

        First, let’s dispense with a false dichotomy: I’m not a fan of HTML emails that are heavy on layout tables and (especially) images with no text equivalents. Given my passion for accessibility (see my profile), that should come as no surprise.

        But HTML emails are good for one thing: providing hyperlinks without exposing URLs to people. As much as good web developers aim for elegant URLs, the fact remains that URLs are for machines, not people. A hyperlink with descriptive text, where the URL is available if and only if the reader really wants it, is more humane.

        For longer emails, HTML is also good for conveying the structure of the text, e.g. headingsg and lists.

        Granted, Markdown could accomplish the same things. But HTML email actually took off. Of course, you could hack together a system that would let you compose an email in Markdown and send it in both plain text and HTML. For folks like us that don’t prefer WYSIWYG editors, that might be the best of all worlds.

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          But HTML emails are good for one thing: providing hyperlinks without exposing URLs to people.

          That doesn’t come without a huge cost. People don’t realize that they need to know the underlying URL and don’t care to pay attention to it. That leads to people going places they didn’t expect or getting phished and the like.

          Those same people probably wouldn’t notice the difference between login.youremail.com and login.yourema.il.com either, though. So I’m not saying the URL is the solution but at least, putting it in front of you, gives you a chance.

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            As much as good web developers aim for elegant URLs, the fact remains that URLs are for machines, not people.

            I’m not sure about this… at least the whole point of DNS is to allow humans to understand URLs. Unreadable URLs seem to be a relatively recent development in the war against users.

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              Not only do I completely agree with you but you are also absolutely right about that.

              Excerpt from section 4.5 of the RFC3986 - Uniform Resource Identifier (URI): Generic Syntax:

              Such references are primarily intended for human interpretation
              rather than for machines, with the assumption that context-based
              heuristics are sufficient to complete the URI [...]
              

              BTW, the above URL is a perfect example of how one should look like.

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              Personally, I hate HTML in email - I don’t think it belongs there. Mainly, for the very reasons you had just mentioned.

              Let’s take phishing, for example - and spear phishing in particular. At an institution where I work, people - especially those at the top - are being targeted. And it’s no longer click here-type of emails - institutional HTML layouts are being used to a great effect to collect people’s personal data (passwords, mainly). With the whole abstraction people cannot distinguish whether an email, or even a particular link, is genuine.

              When it comes it the structure itself, all of that can be achieved with plain text email - the conventions used predate Markdown, BTW, and are just as readable as they were several decades ago.

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                are these conventions well-defined? is there some document which describes conventions for stuff like delimiting sections of plain text emails?

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                  are these conventions well-defined? is there some page which describes conventions for stuff like delimiting sections of plain text emails?

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                It’s just that I acknowledge that I have become a fossil as the times have changed.

                Well, there are just too many of us fossils to acknowledge this just yet.

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                you are, in fact, permitted by the mail RFCs to edit the sender’s message as you please when replying - a style called bottom posting

                Nope. Bottom posting is when you treat the sender’s message as immutable and tack on a reply at the bottom.

                What the article describes is “inline reply”

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                  Does the article contain any examples of the advantages mentioned in the title? I didn’t see any.

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                    Email lost it’s status to the web, but Zawinski’s law fits here (again):

                    Every program attempts to expand until it can read mail. Those programs which cannot so expand are replaced by ones which can.

                    I appreciate this feature a tho.