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Wrapping long lines (Was Re: FAQ update suggestion for "I'm having basic problems with find. Why?")


This seems like a reasonable discussion that can hopefully resolve this
issue once and for all, and so, IMO, belongs on the list rather than in
private e-mail.

More below.

On Thu, 8 Jul 2004, William Blunn wrote:

> > While you can do nothing about the legal disclaimer (except, maybe,
> > precede it with sigdashes ["-- "] so that it gets automatically cut off on
> > replies by smarter mailers), <>.
> Eh?
> My mail program wraps long lines just fine thanks!
> Any long lines coming into my mail reader are nicely wrapped according
> to whatever window width I configure.

They are in mine too.  But look at the web archive of your message:

> Are you suggesting that I insert line breaks at some arbitrary positions
> within my text to cope with other people's broken mail readers?

In a nutshell, yes.  You can make them less than arbitrary (e.g., 72
characters, the default for most mailers).

> I think the problem of wrapping when you hit the end of the line was
> solved before I was born.

Most likely, but sometimes it's essential to not wrap some lines and wrap
others, and this decision can only be made by the person sending the mail.

> If the archive web server emits messages with HTML tags which disable
> line wrapping, then I suggest they turn off that functionality.

The archive takes the plaintext portion of your e-mail and displays it
with all the formatting intact, using the <PRE></PRE> pair of tags.  This
is intentional, and won't be turned off.

> After all, no-one likes horizontal scroll bars.

Not quite.  If you have a long command in your e-mail, you'd like it all
to be on one line.  I'd have to agree that noone likes unnecessary
horizontal scroll bars.

> By the way, this is not a snap knee-jerk response. This is a problem I
> have seen before. I thought about it then, and my conclusions are as
> valid today as they were then.

As far as I understand, the rules on how to treat long lines, top posting,
and other netiquette issues, are determined by the list or the newsgroup,
and not by individual subscribers.  Although not officially stated
anywhere, I think the custom on this list (partly because of the archive
mechanism) is to wrap unintentional (single paragraph) long lines.  FWIW,
the list (as an entity) has no opinion on top- vs. bottom- vs.
inline-posting, although there are plenty of opinions from the individuals
on the list.

> I do not mind people being critical, and I will listen to reason.
> In this case the preferable situation is to preserve the paragraphing,
> and get the wrapping to be done at the proper time, i.e. in the viewer's
> program.

One of the "viewer programs" is the web archive, and since it
(intentionally) doesn't do any line wrapping, we should stick to what
works in all the "viewer programs".

> The cost of wrapping at view time is microscopic.

But, as stated above, sometimes it's impossible to do the wrapping
correctly at view time.

> There is a principle at work here, which is the preservation of
> information.
> But I would be delighted to hear your views on the subject.  Why exactly
> is it a good idea to insert linebreaks in the manner you describe?

See above.  Note that these views only apply to the messages sent to this
list, and not for the general e-mail -- I don't mind getting unwrapped
personal e-mail, for example, since my client handles it just fine.
      |\      _,,,---,,_
ZZZzz /,`.-'`'    -.  ;-;;,_
     |,4-  ) )-,_. ,\ (  `'-'		Igor Pechtchanski, Ph.D.
    '---''(_/--'  `-'\_) fL	a.k.a JaguaR-R-R-r-r-r-.-.-.  Meow!

"I have since come to realize that being between your mentor and his route
to the bathroom is a major career booster."  -- Patrick Naughton

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