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Misbehaving email clients (#1092)

Topics/tags: Rants

As I’ve noted before, one of my too-many responsibilities is serving as one of the two moderators for the SIGCSE [1] listservs [2]. As a moderator, I receive a message each time someone submits a message to one of our listservs. I can approve the message by clicking a link. If I don’t notice the posting quickly enough, my fellow moderator is likely to. But not all messages should be approved. Some violate our policies. Some need feedback from the SIGCSE Board or SIGCSE Chair. And then there are the ones like this.

This  message was  originally  submitted by  someperson@SOMESCHOOL.EDU to  the
SIGCSE-members list  at LISTSERV.ACM.ORG. You  can approve it using  the "OK"
mechanism (click on the link below), ignore it, or repost an edited copy. The
message will expire automatically. You do not need to do anything if you just
want to discard it.

To APPROVE the message:

Apple Mail sent this email to unsubscribe from the message “Re: [External] Re: [SIGCSE-members] Editor recommendation”.
From: Some Person <>
Date: June 30, 2020 at 3:54:04 PM CDT
To: "" <SIGCSE-members-unsubscribe-request@LISTSERV.ACM.ORG>

Apple Mail sent this email to unsubscribe from the message “Re: [External] Re: [SIGCSE-members] Editor recommendation”.

Those are frustrating. Why? In part, it’s because it’s hard to be sure whether or not it’s intentional. Too often, it seems that people hit the Unsubscribe button on their mail reader accidentally. After I checked, I discovered that was the case for this message [3].

But that’s my primary frustration. Rather, I find myself frustrated s because you do not unsubscribe from listserv lists by sending a message like this. I don’t blame the users; you should be able to assume that your email client is correctly designed. Listserv has a protocol. You’d think that the designers of an email reader would know those protocols. Instead, they waste my time. How hard is it to write correct software? [4]

Oh well. Only nine more months until the end of my second three-year term. I will not be permitted to re-up. Since moderating is part of my professional identity, I wonder what that will be like. I guess I’ll learn. And I’m glad that others will have the opportunity to contribute to the SIGCSE community.

Postscript: Keep your eyes posted for the opportunity on the SIGCSE-Volunteers list [5].

Postscript: I was planning on posting either my sabbatical report or my FAR this evening. When I got sucked into a complicated College-related discussion on Facebook and then realized it was after 9:30 p.m., I decided to post something I had mostly drafted instead. I guess my reports to the Dean’s Office will be late. That’s okay; that salary letter the Dean’s Office was supposed to send me before Commencement is over a month late [6].

[1] Special Interest Group on Computer Science Education.

[2] We have four: SIGCSE-members, a place for general discussion of CS education; SIGCSE-announce, where announcements from the SIGCSE Board and the Chairs of SIGCSE conferences appear; SIGCSE-jobs, for job postings; and SIGCSE-volunteers, where volunteer opportunities appear. One of my accomplishments as moderator was to propose the SIGCSE-jobs list, which I think has been a net positive.

[3] I forgot to mention what I do when we don’t approve a message, didn’t I? It depends on the type of message. In most cases, we write an email message of some sort, log in to the listserv management sight, and then delete the post. In a few, we leave the post queued while we await a response. Did I mention those for which we need to consult the SIGCSE Board? Maybe I’ll make a flow chart before I pass the job on to someone else. Maybe I’ve mused about it already.

[4] Admittedly, it turns out to be incredibly difficult to write correct software.

[5] Like most volunteer opportunities, it will also appear on the SIGCSE-members lists.

[6] Yes, there are good reasons for that. It’s also unlikely to make much difference; I haven’t heard of anyone who is expecting a raise.

Version 1.0 of 2020-07-01 .