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2004 Sep 03 16:51

The following is an archive of a post made to our 'vox mailing list' by one of its subscribers.

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Re: [vox] Let's Kill the 76 Char Line Limit!
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Re: [vox] Let's Kill the 76 Char Line Limit!



On Fri, Sep 03, 2004 at 01:05:13PM -0800, Edward Elliott wrote:
> As the old movie, I cantí take it anymore!! Of the dozens of
> groups and boards I belong to, LUGOD is the only one that restricts
> the member to non-wrapping text lines of 76 chars. Of the many
> technical, professional, healthcare, political, education, etc., this
> is the only one still forcing these strange restrictions on the
> members.

Heh, interestingly enough, your email came out just fine for me in Mutt
(but when I quote it in emacs, only the first line of each paragraph, and
the empty lines between, have the ">" quote mark).

It seems Mutt's caught up to the 21st century, but Emacs has not.
(or, you know, there's probably a setting)


Unfortunately, I'm kind of on the fence with this one.  _So_ many people
and tools assume, or prefer, the <80 character screen width.

For example, our mailing list archives on the web doesn't word-wrap on its
own, it assumes the message already is.  (Your post, which I'm quoting,
requires scrolling left and right far too much, for example...
http://www.lugod.org/mailinglists/archives/vox/2004-09/msg00031.html )

We're caught in the 21st century with 20th century tools screwing it up for
us. :^)  (Frankly, I think email in /general/ needs a complete overhaul,
but that's just my opinion from the user side of the issues...)


> The key problem with this is that I canít use my word processor
> to draft the email and then copy it over to the mail client.

Your mailer may or not not support it, but in Mozilla, I was able to tell it
to word-wrap for me.  I get to specify the width.


<snip>
> I seem to recall that there are some minority of members who have
> special mail issues that work best with 76 char lines. This is a
> great group, do we have any scripting geniuses that can write a PERL
> or Python script for the mail server that will reformat the emails
> for those two or three members addresses?

Probably.  Good luck getting someone to write a script for us, though. ;)


> Then the rest of us can stay messy and happy in the normal world of
> wraparound email text?

The problem is when the worlds collide.  You can end up with stuff that looks
like this:

  Foo bar baz foo bar
  baz
  foo bar baz foo bar
  baz
  foo bar baz foo bar
  baz
  foo bar.

  Hence, foo foo foo
  bar
  bar bar baz baz baz
  zap
  zap zap!


> Letís catch up with the rest of the world and forget this archaic
> and user-unfriendly line restriction policy. It's way 20th century and
> the group is better than that nonsense.

Heh, it depends on who the user is... the sender, or the receiver.

Personally, I have little problem with the wide lines (except the way
the archives deal with them >:^( ).  For quoting in emacs, I can simply
hit [Esc][q] to re-wrap a paragraph that was typed as a single line.

In fact, I often do that anyway, since sometimes snipping causes me
to start with a word towards the end of a line, and it seems silly to
have a short first line in a paragraph.  Example:

  Secondly, I think
  that blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah
  blah blah blah blah.


Not being able to tell the future, I can only guess this... but I think
there'll be two responses to this:  "No, don't change it from max. 76 chars"
and folks like me who don't care much at all.


Out of curiosity, though, what mail client are you using?
Assuming we DO keep the 76-char rule, it would be polite to try and
list how to re-wrap a message before sending, using various clients/editors.

-bill!
bill@newbreedsoftware.com            Man, some trip this turned out to be.
http://www.newbreedsoftware.com/       All we caught is a tire, a boot,
New Breed Software                    a tin can and this book of cliches.

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