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Re: Changing the default for `send-mail-function'

From: Tim Cross
Subject: Re: Changing the default for `send-mail-function'
Date: Fri, 8 Jul 2011 01:02:22 +1000

On Thu, Jul 7, 2011 at 5:14 PM, Richard Riley <address@hidden> wrote:
> Tim Cross <address@hidden> writes:
>> Changing default settings is something that needs to be supported by
>> evidence and not just opinion. So far, there does not seem to be any
>> evidence to justify the change, only opinions. I have not observed an
>> increase in bugs relating to mail configuration or requests for help
>> to configure mail or frustration regarding the current default.
>> Perhaps it is too difficult to acquire the necessary evidence?
> From old config files on the 'net or changes to the wiki, I have
> received many Qs about mail setup : the wiki, for example, is a hotch
> potch of conflicting approaches - many "almost correct". That in itself
> is evidence enough of confusion. In the #emacs irc channel there is
> frequently a "rolling of eyes" type response whenever someone asks emacs
> mail questions... not fair necessarily but there you go. Gnus is, in
> fairness, not for the feinthearted as it is. In short there are many
> many many people who have issues with mail configs in emacs. Many of the
> people having the issues are new to emacs and soon give up and move on -
> they certainly are not competent enough or , and more importantly,
> confident enough to raise bugs. So I feel There is an issue and it does
> need tackling.
> The reluctance to change legacy defaults is meant well I am sure, but
> people who have used emacs long term and know it backwards can soon
> figure out how to change their setup to the "old way" : *new users*
> should not be handed difficult to use defaults because of the reluctance
> of a tiny minority.

We must see things differently. Yes, I do see questions regarding mail
setup, but rarely see questions that relate to the setting of the
send-mail-function. The questions and most of the information on the
wiki is about configuring gnus, mew, wonderlust or VM etc. Some of
these external mail client packages don't even use this variable.
Changing the default for this specific variable is unlikely to have
any relevance for these types of issues.

I think it is also unreasonable to characterize those who question the
change of a long standing default as a tiny minority who are resisting
changes to a difficult to use default. Such changes need to be
questioned and so far, the only 'resistance' has been to ask for steps
to be taken to minimize the impact on those who have not had an issue
and for whom mail has worked without any need for additional effort.
For these users, additional effort would be required and the change
would represent a more difficult to use default.  I support such
requests and believe efforts are being made to address them that would
not have occurred without questioning the change.

What I find is still unclear is whether those who will benefit will
outweigh those who will be disadvantaged. We know the change will not
affect windows users as I believe the default for that platform is not
changing. It probably won't affect OSX users either. Of the remaining
users, it will likely be beneficial to those running GNU Liinux on a
laptop and I suspect 50/50 for the rest. However, the reality is that
we don't really know - changing defaults when you don't really know
what its impact wil be or how many it will impact is never something
that should be taken lightly.


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