plain text emails for me, please


I'd made a “new year’s resolution” in 2001. And that was to never ever make resolutions again. And I’ve been pretty good about it. So when my colleague was trying to tell me a few days ago, that I should make a resolution to start composing emails in HTML as opposed to sending them in plain text, it got me thinking (yes, very dangerous indeed). I was told I could create bulleted lists, underline stuff, use marquee text to annoy people etc. I thought about it for a good, hard 2 seconds, before I decided there was no way I was going to switch and start using HTML to compose my emails.


Why?



  1. Replying to emails

    I have the tendency of ‘replying inline’ to messages. Which means, if someone sends me an email that looks like so :

        Hello Ai,

        What is it that the world needs now? Is it love, sweet love?

        Thanks,

        Me

    I tend to reply like so :

        Hello Me,

        Please look inline for <ai>…

        Thanks,

        ai

        > Hello Ai,
        >
        > What is it that the world needs now? Is it love, sweet love?

        <ai> Cars that can parallel park themselves (and not the hard way). </ai>

        >
        > Thanks,
        >
        > Me

    I find this to be a an extremely difficult thing to do using HTML. Not saying its impossible, its just makes the whole email look, you know, ugly. And, I like it when multiple replies embedded inline all get prefixed with a ‘>’. Which means, if I replied to a reply, the email would look like so :

        Hello Me,

        Please look inline for <ai>…

        Thanks,

        ai

        Sent on 1/5/2006, from Me <me@ms.com>
        > Umm, you were saying?
        > Sent on 1/4/2006, from You <you@ms.com>
        >> Trojans are gonna win this one man.

        <ai> Rightttttttt…. </ai>

        >> No doubt, hands down, they’re gonna win.

  2. E-mail bandwidth

    If all an email said was “hello world!”, no fonts used or anything, but was composed in HTML, it would be atleast 25 characters long (with all the “html” fluff). Which means it would be 25B long (not including the SMTP headers et al). The same email composed in plain text would be, thats right, just about 12 characters long.

    I tend to keep all my emails, all the ones that I’ve sent, and most that I’ve ever received. So, yes, e-mail size becomes a huge issue for me.

  3. I have everything I need!

    All that I want to do with HTML, I can accomplish with simple, plain text. Par example :

    Underlying stuff :

        This is an important header
        ——————————

    Writing stuff in bold :

        *This is important stuff - read this*

    Coloring stuff : 
        
        Ok, this is not feasible with plain text emails, but I’m willing to take my chances that recipients of my emails are color-blind.

    Bulleting stuff :

         * Bulleted list item 1
         * Bulleted list item 2

  4. Last, but not least….

    Most spammers use HTML!

So, plain text emails for moi, pweese.


Song roll : “Semi-charmed life” by “Third Eye Blind


“AI”

Comments (9)

  1. Hmmm…This doesn’t seem to fit-in with your company’s philosophy of “eating dog food” and using your new Outlook/Office 12 which is XML based?

    Text only? “How turn of the century.” (^_^)

  2. tzagotta says:

    Text only? Give me a break! That’s so retro!

    Space doesn’t matter – I keep all my e-mails, too. HDD space costs $0.50/GB. Seems kind of silly to me.

    The biggest contribution to overall e-mail database size is clearly attachments, not text.

    This is why I prefer HTML mail. Nasty courier should be banned forever.

  3. Hello Blake,

    > This doesn’t seem to fit-in with your

    > company’s philosophy of “eating dog food”

    > and using your new Outlook/Office 12 which

    > is XML based?

    I really feel making XML the default file format for Office word docs, excel spreadsheets, and powerpoints was overdue. I could be missing something, but what does that have to do with the way I compose my email? 😐

    And not that it applies in this case, but, see the little disclaimer (CYA) I have on the leftpane there – "… All entries in this blog are my opinion and don’t necessarily reflect the opinion of my employer."

    😛

    AI

  4. Hello tzagotta,

    > Space doesn’t matter – I keep all my e

    > mails, too. HDD space costs $0.50/GB. Seems

    > kind of silly to me.

    True, but I tend to keep my messages on the server for as long as I can. You know, just coz… So when I reply to that reply that was forwarded by him and then replied to by her, and that gets saved in my "Sent" folder, it takes up some space. But yeah, I know, HDD isn’t all that expensive, but why waste space on email of all things?

    > Nasty courier should be banned forever.

    Ha! Courier is just the default way that plain text is "perceived". It doesn’t have to be courier you know. You could use "wingdings".

    AI

    PS: Plain text rocks! It just does…

  5. Paul Murphy says:

    I must agree, it’s not 1980 man. Whenever I get a plain text email these days I think of the Radio Shack guys.. you know, they know everything and they know it better. Moustache, yellow-stained glasses, carry a circuit board with lose wires hanging from it when they come to family functions… that sort of thing.

  6. Nishant Sivakumar says:

    Reminds me of a blog entry I made on June 09, 2004.

    HTML mails – what’s all the fuss about?

    URL : http://blog.voidnish.com/?p=23

  7. periferral says:

    dude, !!!

    i’m with you on that one. text emails rule. my dad sends me email saying "hello, how are you. do you like this font and color" in html except my client converts it all to text and i’m like, dude, hes lost it.

    anyway I cannot feel more strongly about this. other that the points AI already has pointed out, the is one I think is very important.

    i use thunderbird and i have the option to color my replied to threads using CSS. so i do. The way it is done is to count the number of > at the start of the line.

    But Outlook html doesnt do this. it just html to reply to email (by default) and does not use > in reply quotes.

    ARRRRGGGHHHH!

  8. As many of you know, I’m a fan of plain text . I don’t really care very much about fonts or colors or

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