It is very irritating to have to hit “Reply to all” in an email on a mailing list in order to make your message post back to the list and not the original author of the mail you are replying to.
I never really understand why public mailing lists never implement the reply-to munging feature to always overwrite the Reply-To fields back to the mailing list address instead of the user address. Erlang’s questions list is one such example.
The mailman software’s doc page on the topic of munging “reply-to” mentions that this is a pretty sensitive issue but I fail to see why. When I get onto a mailing list with a question, I would like to have the best responses – even if that meant it had to come from multiple people. If everyone posted to the list itself, the ensuing email “conversation” can be more effective than if everyone were to reply to only the author. In the former case, people who’ve offered solutions or suggestions can still have their answers improved upon by other people who’ve read it – thereby proving more helpful than the latter case.
There is this page which asserts the RFC’s statements on what the Reply-To really stands for, and I disagree to its views since a user getting on a mailing list does not know what they want their Reply-To to be. They are posting to a public mailing list and it would be very disappointing if the mailing list does not serve the public’s interest in sharing and improving knowledge. Following standards is a good thing when it is constructive, not destructive.
Let us get a little off-track here. Have a look at Stack Overflow, or even the newer Quora – They never hide any answers from the public when a question is replied to. The answers do not privately go to the author, nor do the comments upon it. Everything is pretty much public. As a result, people have enjoyed very good answers with edits and comments; and using web search has proven to be more effective in problem-solving at work or else ever since these sites got popular. Why can’t the same ideals, then, be applied to the archaic-yet-effective mailing lists?
I’d like to state my opinions only here (in personal spaces). I do not wish to engage in “flame wars”, which is claimed to happen in discussions on these topics and thereby refuse to bring up this topic on the mailing lists that follow no reply-to overriding.