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MIME and "Allow 8-bit" in Netscape Nav. 3.01

In article <199710092028.QAA06214@spot.cs.utk.edu>,
Keith Moore <moore@cs.utk.edu> wrote:
>That is, demonstrate that an 8-bit message sent with just-send-8 is
>significantly more likely to reach its destination in readable form,
>than a message that is encoded using quoted-printable.

Here's a war story.

In the UK, there is really only one frequently used character that
doesn't feature in US-ASCII, and that is the pound sign: `£'.  If a user
wishes to send a message containing a pound sign, 4 things can happen.

1. The message path is 8bit clean: the recipient sees `£'.  No problem.

2. The message path strips high bits: the recipient sees `#'. Not ideal,
but the message is still perfectly understandable.  (Actually, anybody
who's been around computers for a while in the UK is quite used to
reading `#' as `£'---and vice versa---since long before MIME arrived.)

3. The message is encoded as quoted-printable.

  3a. If the recipient has a MIME capable mail reader, they see `£'.  No
  problem.

  3b. If the recipient doesn't grok MIME, they see `=A3'.

4. The message path bounces 8bit messages.

Scenario 4 is obviously disastrous, but the number of MTAs actively
hostile to 8bit is now vanishingly small.  Scenario 3b is also
disastrous: the message arrives, but its meaning may have completely
changed.  "Guitar for sale, =A3250."

[ In case you're not familiar with the price of guitars, or the value
of the pound sterling, 250 pounds is a reasonable price for an average
guitar; 3250 pounds would be something very special indeed. ]

For UK users, just-send-8 is a clear win.

Of course, I'm being provocatively parochial here, but this is a real
life example---I've seen it dozens of times---of the damage that can be
caused by quoted-printable.

Tim.
--
Tim Goodwin | "Gateways are designed for the purpose of losing information;
Cygnus, UK  | some do better than others." -- Dave Crocker

Original headers:

From: tgoodwin@nan.cygnus.co.uk (Tim Goodwin)
Newsgroups: comp.mail.mime
Subject: Re: MIME and "Allow 8-bit" in Netscape Nav. 3.01
Date: 10 Oct 1997 13:58:13 GMT
Organization: Cygnus Solutions Ltd, UK
Message-ID: <61lc9l$nj$1@korai.cygnus.co.uk>
References: <199710092028.QAA06214@spot.cs.utk.edu>

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