Listserver/email inbound and outbound

Alex Tweedly alex at
Fri Feb 11 08:53:27 EST 2005

Bill Vlahos wrote:

> Mike,
> I think this is a nifty idea once it is fleshed out a bit.

Yes - I very much agree.

> On Feb 10, 2005, at 3:46 AM, Mike Doub wrote:
>> Hello List,
>> I am thinking about writing a custom listserver type application but 
>> I don't
>> know that much about how to get my system to be a mail host.  I am 
>> looking
>> for advice about any tools or scripts that could get me started.
> There was a very recent thread on how to make an email server directly 
> from a Revolution app.

Since you only need to send email from the actual server, most of the 
difficulties described in that thread don't apply - you can simply 
build-in your server username/password. So read up on shaosean's libSMTP 
and the sending side will be fairly straightforward.

For the receiving side, again libraries are available (shaosean's 
libEmail and Sarah's libPOP) to do much of the detailed work.

If it's practical for your context, I'd only allow simple text emails 
(type text and text/html) to avoid having to worry about encoding 
schemes, and MIME types and viruses , etc.

Do (please) be sure to set the email headers properly when you send mail
 - from: the originator
 - reply-to: the list address
 - precedence: list (or bulk)
(or similar - exactly what's appropriate is up to you, but having the 
precedence set is important).

for a good description (though you need to ignore all the details of how 
to set the flags - you only care about what the headers should be).

>> I am interested in experimenting with the idea of a list server that you
>> subscribe to topics rather than to the whole list.  My idea is that 
>> everyone
>> would have an "announcement" channel that could be configurable by 
>> keywords
>> and searchable via the web.  The user then "subscribes" to topics of
>> interest.
>> This crazy idea came from trying to work the communication problem of
>> wanting to be part of discussion about specific software bugs. Think of
>> subscribing to the discussion tied to a specific bugzilla bug.  Most 
>> folks
>> have a few favorite bugs that they would like to monitor, but not 
>> really all
>> of them.
>> I would appreciate people's thoughts on both the inbound and outbound 
>> side
>> of email, with Rev as the code managing the behavior of the list server.
> The toughest part of this is coming up with the new metaphor for 
> choosing how to be selective. It seems to me that a keyword 
> specification is problematic because both the subscriber and 
> subscribee would be making somewhat arbitrary choices on the words 
> that were not included at all (thereby missing the thread) or were 
> included incidentally (thereby increasing the noise).

You might also consider a hierarchical scheme to specify interest (I'm 
interested in only a few bugs, someone in Customer Support might be 
interest in all bug discussions, a product manager might want everything 
about his product, etc.) You might get this with careful regular 
expression description of "keywords", or might need a more explicit scheme.

> However, I think what might be really interesting would be not only 
> the listserver type application but an information server application. 
> I'm thinking of something like a bulletin board (either server based 
> or client based [think RevNet]) where there would be channels of 
> discussions. It seems like the most difficult opportunity is how to 
> organize the channels. This could be a new type of application.

If you allow web browsing (or maybe a custom client) to find and select 
new channels, you need to consider whether that join triggers the 
sending of all mail already in the archive on that channel (I think it 
should, at least as an option).

Alex Tweedly

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