Please explain how to add to a thread in this mailing list

Kaz Kylheku
Fri Aug 12 08:00:00 GMT 2016

On 11.08.2016 17:44, Thomas Taylor wrote:
> Thank you for responding to my post.  I think I asked the wrong
> question.  What I really want to know is how to use this mailing list
> and others like it.  I'm new at this, and can't find any instructions
> anywhere.  Such lists must have become part of the culture, and I must
> have missed school that day.  I'm able to create a post, but don't know
> how to reply to one.

On pretty much any mailing list, you can use "reply all".

The most important thing that is going wrong on your end is that
your replies are lacking a References: header which cites the
Message-ID: values obtained from postings in the thread.

These message ID references are actually what organizes the
message objects into threads; it's how mail user agents and
archivers can reconstruct the conversation tree.

> Somehow I got the feeling that I should only reply
> to the mailing list, rather than directly to the person (like you) who
> responded to my post.

Some mailing lists (like this one) are configured such that when
you reply to a list posting that you received from the list robot,
a list reply occurs whether or not you use "reply" or "reply all".

This is because the mailing list robot rewrites the From: headers
of the postings which it replicates so that it appears to be
the author.

This is very useful when lists are expected to be used by kindergarten
children rather than grown-ups, because it steers the users to the
common behavior of keeping the conversation in the list, without
those users having to understand e-mail, mailing lists, or which
reply button to use.

(In some modern e-mail clients, a third way of replying has
also appeared, namely "reply list", I just want to mention.
It's an unnecessary feature with an unclear justification
that appears to emanate from a deep-rooted misunderstanding
of e-mail.)

"Reply all" works in most circumstances, regardless of how mailing
lists are configured.

In the classic mailing list that doesn't rewrite From: lines,
nor assert the Reply-To: header, you must use
"Reply All", otherwise the reply will only go to the originator.

"Reply All" also honors the Cc: line. Your reply is targetted to
everyone in the To: and Cc:, which might include some parties who
are not subscribers of the mailing list, but are "in the loop"
of that particular conversation.

> I don't get responses via email, and don't even
> know if I should.

If you're subscribed to the list, you should see them; if
you aren't, there is some mail delivery problem.

> Instead, I check for them periodically on the web
> page for the mailing list archive.  If I find a response, I don't know
> the right way to reply.

Replying via the archive is difficult, because it's not
set up for that. Some better archivers have such a feature;
I use one called "Lurker" on my mailing lists. You can
simply click on a reply button in the web archive, and it
redirects to your configured mail program, passing the original
text and other pieces of information as URL parameters.

If I want to reply to a conventionally archived mailing list
posting, I copy the raw text version. Then do some editing
to restore certain masked syntax like "foo dot bar" to ""
and "foo at bar" to "foo@bar", in the headers only.
I also take care to edit the mbox-format "From <whoever@wherever> ..."
line to include the colon after the From, as is required
in the regular RFC 822 format.

Then I telnet to port 25 of my mail server, compose an envelope
from and to myself, and copy and paste that raw e-mail as
the SMTP DATA. It arrives in my inbox as if the list had sent
it to me; and I can reply to it in the conventional way.
Sometimes this method generates a Cc: to the list owner;
that has to be removed, either when composing or when
editing the raw text before SMTP.

I have the feeling you might be cutting and pasting quoted
text from the archive and composing new messages, which is why
your replies are lacking the References: header. The archiver
is able to infer that this is going on, and is threading your
replies anyway, under a node marked "<Possible follow-ups>".
It's probably figuring this out based on some heuristics involving
the common Subject: line and perhaps some fuzzy matching
on pieces of quoted text.

[I'm adding you to the Cc: list in hopes that perhaps direct
mail delivery from me-to-you will work, since you aren't getting
list traffic.]

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