[MlMt] Feature Suggestion: Making mailer daemon-mails easier readable

Bill Cole mmlist-20120120 at billmail.scconsult.com
Fri Apr 13 07:26:25 UTC 2012

On 12 Apr 2012, at 2:16, Niels Kobschätzki wrote:

> Hi,
> today I tumbled over this article: 
> http://dewith.com/2012/this-is-the-mail-system/
> tl;dr: MUAs could interpret Mailer-Daemon mails and make them easier 
> readable.
> Even so MailMate is a poweruser-MUA I think the idea is great :)
> What do you guys think about this article?

My comment awaiting moderation there is:

   There’s nothing wrong in theory with trying to interpret standard 
   failure messages and presenting a more clear message to the user.
   Unfortunately, theory and reality don’t always match.

   Microsoft tried this already, and in doing so earned the scorn and
   hatred of all mail support workers who have been presented with the
   results that users bring them from broken-by-design Exchange+Outlook
   mail systems and asked to fix the obfuscated problem made unknowable 
   those bits of malware replacing the user-hostile but info-rich 
   NDR with an often-wrong one-line report that doesn’t even 
   identify the point of failure.

   One might hope that Apple would be able to learn from Microsoft’s
   mistake, and not obliterate the original NDR while doing a better job 
   translating the standard codes into user-comprehensible explanations.
   Unfortunately, the Mail.app powers that be have demonstrated with 
   abandonment of the standard “format=flowed” line breaking 
strategy *IN
   ORDER TO ACCOMMODATE OUTLOOK USERS* that they don’t understand any
   concept of standards, only that of following the crowd. It would be
   unsurprising to have Apple attempt what you suggest by replicating
   Microsoft’s mapping of the standard extended status codes to
   semantically identical vagueness and automated deletion of the 

There is evidence that Benny is wiser than the bozos writing Mail.app, 
but he isn't perfect. As someone whose job sometimes includes users 
bringing me error messages seeking solutions, I would hate to have yet 
another MUA obfuscating the details of a standard NDR. All of that 
user-hostile stuff is there for a reason and hiding it from uses so that 
they send a screen shot of the "clear" message that they still don't 
read instead of a copy+paste of the text they couldn't comprehend is a 
step backwards. And yes, I've had users submit screen shots of 
simplified "Your message is too large" error messages asking what is 
wrong with the mail system.

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