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Re: lynx-dev lynx: ftp anonymous password

From: David Mosher
Subject: Re: lynx-dev lynx: ftp anonymous password
Date: Fri, 15 Feb 2002 15:54:15 -0500
User-agent: Mutt/1.2.5i

Fri 2002.02.15 08:13 -0800, in message
<address@hidden>, Doug Kaufman
<address@hidden> wrote, in part,

> [...] I don't see that this patch is a good idea. If we are to request
> free use of the server's resources and they request our email address for
> that use, it seems impolite not to supply it. There are still a few
> servers who will not allow access if an invalid domain is given. [...]

Twenty-five years ago, when asked for my phone number, I gave it without
hesitation.  To do otherwise would have been impolite.  Ten years ago, using
anonymous FTP, usually to *.edu hosts (and good ol', it
would have been impolite not to submit a valid e-address.

It's a different world today.  These days, when asked for a personal datum,
I try to stop and think, if only briefly, about who's asking, why they want
it, and whether it's in my interest to give it.  In such situations, I'm no
longer particularly concerned with being polite.  And I'd rather not have
the software I use make these decisions for me.

It used to be that Lynx, like other browsers then, would indiscriminantly
send HTTP-From; it took a '-nofrom' command-line option to shut it up.
Today, "NO_FROM_HEADER:TRUE" is Lynx's default.  Why should FTP be any

Command-line Unix/DOS FTP clients, and cURL, prompt for a password, or use
what's specified in '.netrc'.  By default, wget will send the user's
e-address for anonymous FTP, but this can be changed with '.netrc' or
'.wgetrc'.  The default behavior of WS_FTP LE (a common freeware Wintel
GUI-ized FTP client), in the anonymous case, is to send something like
"wsftp123@".  This is rejected by only one of those hosts I regularly
access.  I use Mozilla on Wintel, but not for news or e-mail; since it
doesn't "know" my e-address, I've never considered how it handles anonymous
FTP passwords.  (Anyone know?)

> If you are really concerned about anonymity, using lynx from your own
> IP address without going through some anonymizing proxy doesn't make
> sense either

But many users don't know how to set this up. or, even if they do, are
running Lynx on remote systems where it may be difficult.  Others rely on
DHCP to provide what they consider to be adequate, if modest, "IP address
anonymity".  In any case, the fact that there are alternatives doesn't
excuse coughing up info unnecessarily.

> FTP sites certainly have the right to exclude users who have abused
> their services. I am not sure I call this discrimination.

Do you really believe there is a horde of potential "FTP abusers" out there
who are currently constrained solely by Lynx and yearning for the proposed
change to set them free?

David Mosher  <address@hidden>

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