[BioC] possible spam alert

Francois Pepin fpepin at cs.mcgill.ca
Thu Feb 1 00:52:39 CET 2007

Hi Mark,

I'm sending this off-list because I don't want to unnecessarily fill
people's inbox if I'm wrong.

I think you are misunderstanding Patrick's problem. The point is kind of
subtle and requires a bit of knowledge of how e-mail works.

What he is complaining about is that people take a random message on the
mailing list, hit reply and then change the subject, as opposed to
creating a new message.

For most people this ends up being the same: a new message appears with
a new subject heading.

In some cases, which include the archiving system, the e-mail client
tries to organize the e-mails by threads. Because some people tend to
change the subject name inside of a thread, there is an additional
(hidden) identifier that is used. This means that if you replied to a
random message, you are now associated to an unrelated thread, which is
annoying at best and can cause your message to be ignored at worst. This
is especially true in a high-volume list like R-help, as most people
don't want to jump all over to follow a conversation and having a
completely irrelevant message inside a conversation is confusing.

Hopefully this clarifies the situation. You're not being accused of
spamming, but of not following one of the finer points of mailing list
etiquette. Given the volume of the lists involved and the time and
effort that many people spend in reading and replying to the list, I
think it is a good idea to make the extra effort to make sure that
everything runs smoothly.


On Wed, 2007-01-31 at 17:38 -0500, Kimpel, Mark William wrote:
> The last two times I have originated message threads on R or
> Bioconductor I have received the message included below from someone
> named Patrick Connolly. Both times I was the originator of the message
> thread and used what I thought was a unique subject line that explained
> as best I could what my question was. Patrick seems to be implying that
> I am abusing the R and BioC help newsgroups in this fashion. 
> When I emailed him to give me a specific example, he did not reply. The
> most recent thread that he seems concerned about was to the R list and
> was entitled "regexpr and parsing question" . I believe the previous
> post of mine that he had problems with was to the BioC list but I can't
> remember its subject.
> Is this spam?
> If I am doing this correctly, you should see the subject "possible spam
> alert" in the subject header of THIS message.
> Would the moderators of the lists please check and see if I am doing
> some wrong and, if not, inform Mr. Connolly that I am not. If others
> have received this message in error, it is possible it is spam and users
> should be alerted.
> Thanks,
> Mark
> Mark W. Kimpel MD 
> Official Business Address:
> Department of Psychiatry
> Indiana University School of Medicine
> PR M116
> Institute of Psychiatric Research
> 791 Union Drive
> Indianapolis, IN 46202
> This is a request to anyone who starts a new subject to begin with a new
> message and NOT reply to an existing one.  If your mail client is any
> good, it's very simple to set up an alias (mine is simply 'r') so that
> the tedious task of typing 'r-help at stat.math.ethz.ch' is unnecessary and
> it's quicker than scrolling through an address book.
> It's also quicker than deleting the previous subject.
> Most mornings, I have over a screenful of messages mostly from R-help
> and it's very useful to have them threaded.  However, the usefulness of
> threading is lost when posters reply to a message and then change the
> subject instead of creating a new message.
> People who don't have a mail client that can display email in threads
> are probably unaware that this sort of thing can happen in ones that do:
>     37 N   25 Jan Luis Silva              ( 34) [R] plot/screen
>     38 N   25 Jan Uwe Ligges              ( 55) `-> 
>     39 N   25 Jan Fernando Henrique Ferra ( 20) [R] Plotting coloured
> histograms
> ->  40 N   26 Jan Mohamed A. Kerasha      ( 12) |->[R] Distributions.
>     41 N   26 Jan ripley at stats.ox.ac.uk   ( 26) | |->
>     42     26 Jan Qin Xin                 (  9) | `->[R] how could I add
> legends
>     43     27 Jan Ko-Kang Kevin Wang      ( 31) |   `->
>     44 N   26 Jan Remigijus Lapinskas     ( 32) |->Re: [R] Plotting
> coloured his
>     45 N   26 Jan Damon Wischik           (125) `-> 
>     46 N   25 Jan Rex_Bryan at urscorp.com   ( 10) [R] plotting primatives,
> ellipse
>     47 N   25 Jan Uwe Ligges              ( 19) `->   
> As Martin Maechler explained some time ago, it also screws up the
> archives for a similar reason.
> Your cooperation will be greatly appreciated.
> best

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