« Six Apart support emails | Main | The Perils of Machine Translation Illustrated »

January 20, 2009


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.


> Correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe this atrocity was introduced by Microsoft when they desperately tried...

Microsoft has introduced many atrocities, but this is not one of them :-) It comes straight out of RFC 2822.

You might prefer the older RFC 822 address format, e.g.

From: jsmith@MIT.EDU (John Smith)

> Notice that a double quote in someone's name (as you often see with nicknames) is no longer a problem at all

Double quotes were never a problem. See the examples in Appendix A.1.2 of the RFC.

For my part, MIME-encoded mail header fields are a bane, because they are unsupported by many mail-handling tools (e.g. procmail).


Let me clarify that. I'm not saying that using double quotes is a violation of the standard or an invention by Microsoft. What I'm getting at is the superfluous double quotes which e.g. Outlook puts around every real name, as seen in my examples. By contrast, the examples in appendix A.1.2 of RFC2822 (which as you probably know has been superseded by RFC5322) do not have double quotes around names except where necessary -- and the required syntax for a literal double quote is not very elegant or usable. Even though raw MIME is not elegant or usable, either, modern end-user clients relieve users from seeing what's going on behind the scenes technically.

While I'm among the first to lament the fact that Procmail does not handle MIME natively, that's not really relevant here. Some clients do use MIME for this already, so if you want to cope with this syntax by way of a Procmail recipe, the problem exists already, and regardless, I don't think it can be considered a valid argument against persuading more MUA authors to use a convention which is friendlier on poor old Aunt Tilly's eyes and nerves.

The comments to this entry are closed.