Thursday, August 23, 2007

Crap mail client

At work we're blessed with a wonderful mail client which we are suppose to use, by policy. And most people do. I try not to. Maybe you've seen this signature in some peoples' mail:
A: Because it messes up the order in which people normally read text. Q: Why is top-posting such a bad thing? A: Top-posting. Q: What is the most annoying thing in e-mail?
and indeed they are right. This particular mail client encourages top posting by doing two things. The first one is that when you hit reply it formats the new mail in this manner: <cursor here> <your signature> ------<other persons name> wrote:------ <other persons mail body indented> ... where the irritating thing is that it places your signature above the other persons mail. The second thing is that all mails are in HTML, and the client has some limitations in that regard: The text from the mail you're replying to gets indented in a way where you can't inline your replies without having your text indented too. The interesting stuff happens when people in my organization think of how to workaround these limitations. Some use top posting, and forgets to reply to half of the message. The others use a feature that comes with HTML, coloring! That is, the common way to reply is that you pick a previously not used color in that mail, and color your inlining with that. When the mail gets replied for the seventh time there is indeed eight different colors used, and everything is indented seven steps. Yay.... Naturally there is no "standardization" of which color to pick next, so each conversation is colored in a different way. It can get quite tricky to follow. Also, after a while it gets hard to pick a color that is sufficiently different from other colors. Luckily I'm not color blind. Just to make you realize how bad this really is, imagine this with your favorite indention sensitive programming language: In your editor;
  • You can't indent.
  • When you hit the tab key you just get the color for the current indention level.
  • The mapping of "intention level" to color is different for each source file.
A very interesting thought. The first person to implement this in the editor of their choice will get a postcard from Göteborg, by yours truly.

No comments: