E-mail, HTML and Micapeak mailing lists

Micapeak Options
How to send plain text


E-mail became popular in the early days, long before the World Wide Web (what most people now think of as "the Internet"), even before the Internet itself. In those days, all e-mail was plain text - this was the only common denominator that all the various kinds of computers could handle. A lot of proprietary systems were invented, notably by IBM and Microsoft, that allowed people to send more complex and attractive e-mails back and forth, but they were limited by requiring the people on both ends to be using the very same software.

During this time, a lot of fine things (including Micapeak.com) were invented and became popular. E-mail started to ge a bit more sophisticated, with the advent of MIME (Multimedia Internet Mail Extensions), originally invented for mailing binary documents, pictures, music, etc. Older software didn't handle MIME properly, especially for "DIGEST" subscription modes. But that was OK; most of the subscribers to mailing list communities were interested in words, not pictures and stuff.

Along came Tim Berners-Lee and HTTP and the World Wide Web. An explosion of development happened. HTML, the "language" used to format documents for the Web, became amazingly widespread. E-mail vendors started making HTML formatting the standard for "enhanced" e-mail. This seems to make sense - HTML has all the formatting capability to deliver bold, italics, fonts, colors, and so on, plus it's a pretty safe bet that everybody has software that can read and understand it. Combining MIME and HTML, the e-mail composing software can easily send TWO copies of every message bundled up together, one in plain text and one in HTML. This seems to solve the problem neatly for recipients who don't use HTML - the receivers's MIME-compliant e-mail client will just pick out the appropriate one. Or that's the assumption, anyway.


Do you see problems here? We do.

Micapeak's mailing list options

At Micapeak.com, by default our mailing lists don't forward HTML or MIME. That's just fine with us - for the most part, MIME and HTML have no value in e-mail-driven automated services. By default, any HTML email is "stripped" and transformed into pure plain text.

For individual mailing lists, we offer a choice. The "owner" - administrator of each individual mailing list - can choose to allow all sorts of MIME attachments, HTML, and so forth.

Frankly we encourage listowners to choose "plain text only". One happy side-effect is that this cuts way down on the Spam. It seems that most senders of unsolicited (unwelcome) commercial e-mail advertising prefer to use HTML mail. Hooray - this helps us drop their grabage instead of sending it to all the subscribers.

How you can send pure plain text

For many of the current popular e-mail clients, setup is pretty straightforward. Obviously, we don't have all the different sorts of e-mail clients available to test. We can't offer specific support on an individual basis. One of the most comprehensive sites with detailed instructions for many, many e-mail clients is here: http://www.expita.com/nomime.html

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