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On not sending attachments to mailing lists...



Somebody who recently sent an image file to the dinosaur list wrote:

> Sorry.
> I won't do that again.

I hope everyone will follow that lead.  In fact, I'd go further and
ask that people stop sending attachments to the list period.  Many
people using Microsoft Outlook or Netscape Navigator to send mail send
us not only a text version of their message, but also an html version
as an attachment.  Please learn how to use your software to turn this
feature off when sending mail to a list that is not explicitly set up
for the purpose of exchanging attachments.  The following is from the
administrivia message:

| I don't expect to discipline anyone for this, but I do ask that you
| not include attachments (such as files containing images) to
| messages.  A large number of people will not be able to read the
| files, and many will not even be able to receive them (believe it or
| not some people have limits on the sizes of messages they can
| receive!).  If you wish to transmit an image or other form of
| encoded message please find another place to make it available and
| send to the dinosaur list only an announcement of the file's
| availability.  If you have no other space to put up the file, you
| can write to me (mrowe@indiana.edu).  I don't want to get in the
| business of making temporary web pages, but I do have such resources
| available to me.  If I don't get too many requests I can offer
| limited use of those resources to others.

For those that don't like to take my word for anything, the following
verbiage was pilfered from a recent message Norm McLeod wrote to
PaleoNet (substitute "dinosaur" for every instance of "PaleoNet" in
the following; replace "Mickey" for "Norm" for the most part except
that I don't use Eudora, and I rarely read mail on anything other than
a Unix box.):

} The second issue is really the more important. PaleoNet subscribers
} use a large number of different e-mail programs to access and manage
} PaleoNet postings and these have different capabilities. Attachments
} are usually encoded to ascii text by the sender's e-mail program and
} then attached to the body of the message. There are a number of
} different ascii conversions formats, the two most popular being MIME
} (PC's) and Binhex (Mac). The Listproc software that forms the core
} of PaleoNet simply authenticates incoming messages and redirects
} them to subscribers. No changes are made to attachments by Listproc.
}
} The problem lies on the receiving end. In order to read an
} attachment the recipients software must be able to recognize and
} decode it. E-mail software differs in its ability to do this. For
} example, my Mac copy of Eudora Light handles incoming Binhex
} attachments just fine, but doesn't know what to do with a MIME
} attachment. When e-mail software gets confused (like all software
} from time to time) anything can happen. Some programs consider the
} attachment to be text, some save it to an external file, and some
} give up the ghost and crash the host computer system. Moreover, some
} e-mail programs can only handle e-mail text messages at or below a
} certain file size. Taking my copy of Eudora Light as an example
} again, that program parsed John's attachment into 4 separate
} segments because of its in-built limit on the message size. So I,
} like many PaleoNet subscribers, ended up with what seemed like 4
} different e-mail messages from John, all of which mostly contained
} ascii gobbledygook. However, once I reassembled the parsed
} attachment into a single file and converted it with an external MIME
} converter I was able to open view his jpeg image.
}
} The point is that sending attachments to anyone over the e-mail can
} be fraught with unanticipated complications, and sending attachments
} to listservers such as PaleoNet is almost always a bad idea. You're
} inevitably going to cause unintentional problems for someone. [Note:
} this applies to attachments of word processor files as well as
} images.] If you have an image you want people on the list to see the
} best thing to do is (1) put the image up on your own web site or (2)
} contact me so that I can get the image from you and put it up on the
} PaleoNet web sites.

Finally, for those who are still with me, Mary Kirkaldy may
occasionally fill in for me as the person who complains about your
behavior on this list.  If you respect my authority here then please
treat her the same way that you treat me.  If you don't then try to
treat her better!

Thanks for your cooperation.

Your humble administrator,

--
Mickey Rowe     (mrowe@indiana.edu)