The Bikeshed plugin

Here’s a wish for a plugin to all the worlds’ email writing software: Implement the self-policing functionality outlined by Poul-Henning Kamp in his brilliant A bike shed (any colour will do) on greener grass…. The post is well worth the read, but I’ll summarize the ideas:

  1. Warn the user before sending to huge mailing lists or newsgroups – Every unnecessary word is hours lost cumulatively (is that a word?).
  2. Warn the user before sending to a mailing list or newsgroup where not all messages are read – Someone might already have said the same thing.
  3. Stop the user from replying to a message if the whole message has not yet been shown – You might need to calm down if you’re replying before reading the whole message.
  4. Stop the user from sending a message which has been typed very fast – You might want to review that spelling and wording.

Now, if you’re still reading I presume you’ll humor me while I discuss the individial issues. If not, why are you here? ;)

For the first point, I’d use a local database of addresses which could support wildcards. Should be simple to implement, and might be extended to support central databases of address hashes.

The second one is simple for newsgroups and server-side mailing lists, but should be careful to look in all folders when handling client-side email.

I’m not sure I agree with the third one – When handling several issues in the same email, I often know that I’ll have to reply before reading the rest. But it should be simple to implement, and might fit to your particular way of handling emails.

The last issue is simple enough to implement, but you’ll have to handle stuff like cut’n’paste. And of course, the cps or wpm max should be customizable, preferably by monitoring the typing speed over time.

So when a newbie, cluebie, idiot, moron, troll, jackass, nutcase, fuckwit, asshole, and / or shithead is wasting hundreds of hours of other peoples’ time, you can tell him / her to Bikeshed it!

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