TB 52 not respecting Reply-To (Linux)

User Help for Mozilla Thunderbird
Posts: 8
Joined: January 28th, 2010, 1:23 pm

Post Posted May 17th, 2017, 3:56 pm


I'm using Ubuntu xenial, and so today jumped from Thunderbird 45.8.0 to Thunderbird 52.1.1. Besides a few new problems with the UI (particularly the loss of a paging function in the scrollbar), it's suddenly lost the usual 'Reply' function to respond to mailing lists properly.

Can someone please explain what's changed in the intervening versions, and why?

For mailing lists, showing two out of 'Reply to list', 'Reply to from' and 'Reply to' gives a useful choices sometimes. But it's been the case for decades that mailing list software adds a Reply-To that determines how replies work - different lists have different requirements. For a high-volume noisy list it makes sense not to add Reply-To, and a list administrator can ensure the list doesn't set its own Reply-To. For other lists the list community really does want more of a forum, and so make it easiest for people to reply to the list. I usually want to trust whatever the list administrator has set, and can check in the unlikely case I definitely want it to be a private reply.

I've caused a few problems for other people and myself today by not realising I was replying to an individual rather than the list.

RFC 5322 & 5598 say Reply should respect Reply-To. I don't see any advanced preference to restore the standard behaviour either.
Last edited by DanRaisch on May 17th, 2017, 4:56 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Reason: "(Linux)" added to subject line.

Posts: 2300
Joined: December 7th, 2004, 6:52 am

Post Posted May 17th, 2017, 8:07 pm

Same problem if you have started in safe mode?? ... hunderbird

Posts: 8
Joined: January 28th, 2010, 1:23 pm

Post Posted May 18th, 2017, 4:19 am

Yes, it's the same in safe mode - which makes sense because 'Reply' is a core feature!

I see "When replying to a mailing list, reply will be sent to address in From header ignoring Reply-to header" in the changelog for 50 beta 2, but maybe it met objections then as it's also in the TB 52 change log.

I'm surprised that I can't find either reasoning before the change or much comment by users (I see 'Is it a joke? WHY WOULD YOU!'). People probably assume it's their own human error, but it does mean some email is not delivered to who it's supposed to go to!

Posts: 8
Joined: January 28th, 2010, 1:23 pm

Post Posted May 18th, 2017, 5:12 am

Trying to reword the subject more simply:

Thunderbird has a Reply function, accessible via the first button on the left in the preview pane, or Ctrl+R etc. Until Thunderbird 52, if the incoming message had a Reply-To header, Reply would use that as the recipient address.

As of Thunderbird 52, this isn't consistent. If Thunderbird detects the message as having come through an email list, it now presents two buttons 'Reply' and a drop-down button marked 'Reply List', and the 'Reply' button ignores the Reply-To header, so replies are less likely to go to the list address.

Now, I'm not saying previous behaviour was perfect, but among other things the drop-down button also now has an option called 'Reply' that works in the standard way (RFC 5322 A2) - two things called 'Reply' that work in different ways. I'm also not sure why lists are treated any differently from other email with a Reply-To.

My suggestions to avoid confusion in these list situations would be either:
(a) rename the left-hand button 'Reply author'; or, ideally
(b) have the simple left-hand button always follow the suggestion in Reply-To, thus respecting the list moderator's intentions (it still does if the Reply-To is the author). So when there is a Reply-To: list, the left hand button would say 'Reply list', and the right hand button would give options 'Reply author' and 'Reply all'.

Return to Thunderbird Support

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 3 guests