Follow

Spy pixels in emails 'have become endemic'.

Good to see a front page piece on the BBC about this. I can’t remember the last time I saw someone do this in a lawful manner.

Not user-blaming, but disable display of remote images in your mail clients! bbc.co.uk/news/technology-5607

@neil Better: display email in text only. No trackers, no distraction, and, bonus, most spam ("newsletters") does not have a proper content in text/plain so you save time.

#teamMutt

@neil
We tend to disable HTML rendering as well. Annoying when I get a blast of HTML code text in an email. If they don't have readable text I assume the information wasn't important. It certainly isn't accessible.

@onepict @neil I've often seen the counter argument to this be "but most people send HTML mail", esp. on HN when the topic of e-mail comes up.

But to this day I've never received a message from a contact (most of whom have nothing to do with tech) that used any feature particular to HTML email. Not even bold or italics.

Of course that's anecdotal but with that experience I'm convinced that the sole purpose of HTML email is spam.

@cadadr
I've seen it from suppliers but I do wonder if the marketeers got to them. It's really annoying when it actually could be a sale I'm open to, as it is a pest sifting through the code to find the useful information. But now I'm like 🤷‍♀️. If you can't consider doing your communications with a text option, I'm not going to read it. My time is precious to me now and again accessibility is an important concept to me. If you can't design your coms for those who need accessibility then no.

@onepict It's weird because most mail I receive from non-techie contacts come in multipart form, and the text/plain is always almost == text/html content.

But I suppose in some business circles it's indeed the norm so people in that space get used to it.

One thing I don't know is, whether or not Outlook automatically attaches text/plain version of the message by default. Bc I suppose most these people would just open Outlook and type into the first text box it presents to them.

@cadadr @onepict @neil

> But to this day I've never received a message from a contact (most of whom have nothing to do with tech) that used any feature particular to HTML email. Not even bold or italics.

I'm kind of jealous of your set of contacts. My non-tech contacts are *very* likely to use either bold or italics in at least some of their emails and moderately likely to use bulleted lists.

(Many also care about typography enough that they've selected a non-default font)

@codesections @cadadr @onepict @neil

within our organisation all the formatting (particularly bullet lists and tables) that HTML email allows gets widely used for "internal" emails, this also turns up in emails sent to us by the Council and NHS - its only a certain kind of tech aware person who actively turns off this feature (to the point I can tell if a service users relative has a tech background such as being ex BT Research as the *absence* of HTML email acts as a marker 😉 )

@codesections @cadadr @onepict @neil

to be fair anything that arrives from "outside" is automatically delivered without pictures and links enabled unless the enduser actively allows them (or the domain has been trusted on the MS365 tenant)

@vfrmedia @onepict @neil

> its only a certain kind of tech aware person who actively turns off [sending HTML email] (to the point I can tell if a service users relative has a tech background such as being ex BT Research as the *absence* of HTML email acts as a marker 😉 )

Yeah, I didn't read @cadadr as saying that non-tech contacts frequently *turn off* HTML email—just that, even though they send HTML email, they don't use any HLML features (and thus wouldn't care if the default was changed)

@codesections @onepict @neil @cadadr

I find it often depends on what device they are using - those with mobile phones and tablets do not use the formatting as much as users with a full size keyboard device such as a laptop or desktop PC (to be fair, this is not surprising).

I do remember HTML mail being in widespread use as early as the late 1990s and when I worked in public service from 2002-2006 it was widely accepted there, at least amongst "trusted" email routing paths..

@codesections @onepict @neil Now that I think of it I've practically never looked at what HTML parts looked like in messages in ages (unless that's the only mime part, ofc).

Most of my emailing is in academic context and I suppose most people use Gmail in there, which is generally good at attaching a neat text/plain part, rendering text/html part useless.

@onepict glad to see there are more sane people. Allowing html in email was an even worse blunder than allowing code in jpegs. The only worse idea that has gotten big is clientside code for web pages. The modern web is just a lost cause, we should unplug it and admit our mistake so we can build something better.

Disclosure: I manage SMTP infrastructure for a living.
@neil

@qrsbrwn
Nice to hear from a fellow sane person. We appear to be a dying breed. @dentangle would certainly agree with you about the Web.
@neil

@neil: There are still mail clients around which don't have that switched off by default?!?

As others already mentioned, I even let #Mutt prefer text/plain over text/html, but this often results in impudent and wrong messages like "Your mail client can't display HTML". Because my #MUA can, it just doesn't want to. 😀

#teammutt

@neil Enjoyed the article, thanks for sharing. We're in 2021. It's a pity that sending out messages paying attention not just to content but also representation (design) still has to rely upon technologies as archaic and despisable as HTML email. Maybe sometimes it would pay off to at least once all 40 years, cut some years of backward compatibility and do things right or better.

Sign in to participate in the conversation
mastodon.neilzone.co.uk

The social network of the future: No ads, no corporate surveillance, ethical design, and decentralization! Own your data with Mastodon!