[OS X TeX] "Hijacking" a thread

Christopher Menzel cmenzel at tamu.edu
Tue Nov 4 08:04:52 CET 2008

Joseph C. Slater wrote:
> Seriously. Stop using this thread. Start a new one. Sent an email to macosx-tex at email.esm.psu.edu 
>  to start one. I'll even start it for you.

Well, maybe I'm more clueless than most, but I didn't have even an  
inkling that Joseph Slater's curt message was targeting me until he  
made an example of me (and also falsely accused me of top-posting --  
the ignominy!).  On the off chance that others might be equally  
clueless, and as penance for my transgressions, let me use my breach  
of netiquette as a "teaching moment" instead of a mere object of  
scorn: To "hijack" a thread is to start what you *think* is a new  
thread by *replying* to a message in an existing thread and changing  
the Subject header instead of beginning a new message that you  
explicitly address to the list yourself.  You might think (as I did)  
that these are two paths to the same end, but the problem is that,  
when you reply to a message in an existing thread, an identifier is  
preserved in your message (in the usually hidden "In-Reply-To" header)  
that points to the replied-to message, and this identifier is used by  
mail clients capable of subject threading (as most are) to reconstruct  
threads.  Hence, if you try to start a new thread by replying to a  
message in an existing thread, even if you supply a new Subject  
header, you succeed only in super-gluing your completely irrelevant  
message, and all followups to that message, to the existing thread --  
the thread has been hijacked.  Note this also affects the list  
archives, as the In-Reply-To headers are used to construct threads for  
the archives as well.

I hope that's helpful to some folks.

Chris Menzel

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