Thursday, July 14, 2005

Plain Text

I hate people who send me emails formatted in plain text. When I reply, I need to convert it to HTML, then change the format back to normal, etc. Dumb morons.

Almost as bad are those who forward me a 17th-generation forwarded email, where each previous forwarder was too fricking stupid to remove the forward info so that the meat is buried 17 floors below in a nest of headers. Or, it's one email attached to another, and so on, you have to drill down 3 or 5 levels to find the original. And they are invariably all these 7th grade level humor things or some dumb religious crap or pro-war or anti-Arab humor. Jesus. If tree-huggers are the brain-numb foot soldiers of liberalism, these blue collar rubes are their Republican analog.

Here's another. I ask someone to fax me something on FINE mode. "Do whutt?" I explain it to them, "Look, there's a button on your fax... oh fucking nevermind."

Annoying also are the dipwads who send me email with stationary font in the background. Or they put their name in script font, sometimes in blue color. What, do they think that'll fool me?

And why do some poeple insist on deleting context when they reply to an email. Do they think the CIA is tailing them?

And I love these ignant morons who, when you send them a PDF file attached, say, "Uhhh, Ah cain't open it. Eeet won't open." I invariably say, "Do you have the latest version of the free Adobe Acrobat reader?" And if the answer is, "Uhhhmmm, how would I know that," then I know the answer is no.

And if I see one more person click twice on a hyperlink, I will go berzerk.


David J. Heinrich said...

I disagree here. Plaintext e-mails are the way to go. People shouldn't *need* MS Office or some other e-mail program that formats HTML just to read e-mail, especially when all it contains is plain-text formatted a little nicer. ASCII is the most universal format.

I agree with your other points, though (not removing previous forwards).

Stephan Kinsella said...

H-dude. Well, you have to have SOME 'e-mail program' to access email, no? Even gmail lets you view HTML formatted email. What morons don't have HTML-compatible email programs? Idiots who use stupid free programs like hotmail?

Which reminds me of another prejudice: I immediately think poorly of someone if they have a hotmail, yahoo, or AOL email address. I write them off.

David J. Heinrich said...


Alot of people still use just a console-based OS (some people use Linux in that form). There, they use text E-mail programs like Mutt, which has all kinds of useful features (for those so-capable of figuring them out) for filtering e-mail, getting rid of spam, etc.

True, u have to have "some" e-mail program to access e-mail. But HTML e-mails (especially that crap adv u get) slows down your program. Also, I wouldn't have as much of a problem with HTML e-mails if most of them weren't formatted using MS Outlook, which produces really poor non-standard HTML.

I guess I just don't see the point of HTML e-mail. Also, alot of times, I use remote e-mail by logging into Road Runner or my work e-mail from FireFox online; these produce plain-text by default.

Daniel Franke said...

I'm with Heinrich on HTML mail. An email is not a web page. HTML mail is insecure because image tags can be used for snooping. And, like Heinrich said, you can't read it in console-based mail programs. I have Mozilla Thunderbird for reading mail on my desktop, but when I need to administer my server all I have is a text connection, so I use mutt. In fact, if I didn't have to put up with so much HTML mail, I'd prefer mutt, because it's much more powerful and configurable than any other program out there. Furthermore - and don't mistake me as a dimwit-serioso for saying this - but when you're writing for a mailing list, expect that a few people on the list may be blind. They use braille terminals, so text is all they've got. I'm not saying that you should feel guilty about that, but just keep in mind that if you use text-only you'll be reaching a slightly wider audience.


Stephan Kinsella said...

Daniel, you and David can go straight to the land of Hades!

David J. Heinrich said...


Braille terminals? How does that work? The terminal configures the screen to allow the blind to feel braille?

David J. Heinrich said...


And it wouldn't be so bad regarding HTML e-mails if the HTML was actually standard HTML. I'm sure it'd be easy to make a version of Mutt that could read standard HTML (like Lynx/Links). But the non-standard junk-HTML that Outlook spits out is another matter.

Daniel Franke said...

Braille terminals, to my understanding (I've never seen one myself but I've chatted with people who use them), replace the monitor completely. They generally hook up to a serial port just like the old DEC terminals did. Just instead of a CRT they have mechanical pixels that rise and form braille.

Don said...

HTML email should only be used when its necessary for the email to convey a particular piece of information.. that is to say, virtually never.

I use the ability to read PDFs as a screening device. I send my resume out in PDF, if they can't or won't handle it, I don't want them representing me or to work there. Great for getting rid of idiot agencies.