X-Message-Number: 10607
Date: Sun, 18 Oct 1998 17:48:35 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Re: Ugly Email

In cryomsg #10604, Peter Merel <> wrote:

> Keith Lynch, perhaps unknown to you, provides the invaluable
> service of archiving the entire assortment of rambles, flames, and
> occasional moments of pith. Just why he does this is a mystery to
> most of us, but we remain grateful nonetheless;

Thanks.  Originally I did it because I was trying to figure out
whether cryonics was a worthwhile thing to try, and if so, which
cryonics organization was best for my needs here on the east coast.
To make some sense of the many thousands of Cryonet messages, I
indexed them by subject, sender and keyword.  So I figured as long
as I did that, I might as well put them on the web for others to
be able to peruse.

That was over three years ago.  The number of Cryonet postings has
more than doubled since then.  The web pages are evidently very
popular, having received nearly half a million hits.  Over 13,000
in September alone.

I have temporarily (?) had to stop indexing them by sender and
keyword.  (The time I intended to devote to automating and updating
this has instead mostly been eaten up making spam reports.  Reporting
spam (see http://www.clark.net/pub/kfl/spam.html) is my top online
priority, since if spam isn't quickly stopped, there soon won't *be*
an "online," at least not one which involves two-way communication,
or e-mail addresses which aren't kept secret.)

The time I *do* spend maintaining and updating the Cryonet archive
web pages (http://www.clark.net/pub/les/cryonet/) are largely taken
up with reformatting otherwise unreadable messages.  I can't just
blindly re-wrap them, since quoted text is often run into the reply,
and since words are frequently broken in the middle.  Anyone who has
been skipping recent messages from Thomas.Nord and smithid due to
unreadability can read them in my archives.

At the moment, my archives are totally up to date (except for the
indexing).  But they're sometimes up to a week behind.  Lately, I've
been updating them on Sunday afternoons.

> Likewise I'm sure that Keith Lynch bore you no malice when he
> suggested you format your posts so that they are legible to others.
> He certainly said nothing that was worthy of your harsh response.

Right.  For one thing, I wrote only to him, not to the whole list,
and I was surprised to see his reply, quoting me, on Cryonet.  For
another, he seems to have misinterpreted my complaint as being at
least partly about his English.

He also brought up, on Cryonet, the true story of my false
imprisonment for a string of buglaries of which I was of course
totally innocent (http://www.clark.net/pub/kfl/prison.html).  Since he
did so, I will briefly answer him here.  It happened over twenty years
ago, and I have had no further (or previous) conflicts with the law,
not even a traffic ticket.  I do not believe it reflects ill on me,
but only on the justice system here in Virginia, which now has three
times the prison population as when I was locked up, and which is now
in 2nd only to Texas in number of executions.  It's my belief that
many of these people are innocent, and my hope that this web page
(which gets about 100 hits per month) can save other innocent people
from having to go through what I did.  I do not waste my time trying
to get this conviction reversed, other than to write a short polite
letter to each new governor.

My suggestion is that KQB's software be highly tolerant of variations
in style, syntax, and layout.  But that it reject postings that are
so grossly misformatted as to be nearly unreadable.  This includes
postings most of whose lines are more than 80 columns wide, postings
where there are frequent breaks in the middle of words, and of course
postings in HTML, uuencode, base64, rot13, MIME, languages other than
English, and EBCDIC.  Please reject them with a short explanation,
so the sender can fix it and resend it.

I get little fan mail about my archives, but I know they're popular
because of the hit count.  There are, however, three people who have
asked me to remove their postings.  I have refused to do so, since
I am not Big Brother and will not pretend to alter history.  If the
complaints become sufficiently vehement, or I get a letter from an
attorney, I will take down the entire archives, but I will never
bowdlerize them.  The one concession I made was to a certain prominent
pro-cryonics cryobiologist, the first vowel in whose last name
I replaced with a "*", to protect him against web searches from
cryonics-hostile cryobiologists.  (The "Society for Cryobiology" has
bylaws forbidding membership to anyone who supports cryonics.  We
can be glad that earlier in this century the analogous institutions
didn't kick out aeronautical engineers who believed space travel was
possible, radio engineers who believed that wireless telephony and
television could be made workable, or surgeons who believed organ
transplants could be done.)

One other suggestion is that senders please try to provide a
meaningful subject line.  "Re: CryoNet #10571 - #10579" isn't one.
(I don't think postings should be rejected for this, however.)

Would Cryonet readers (including those who read it only in the
archives) prefer that I stop reformatting unreadable messages, and
spend that time working on automating the indexing of them by sender
and by selected keyword?  (There's little point in my also indexing
them by subject line as I had originally planned, since so many
subject lines aren't meaningful.)  Please reply if you have a
preferance either way.

I hope to continue this archive well into the next century.  And if
I ever need to be frozen, to have a copy of the archive (along with
gigabytes of other material that I've saved in my more than 20 years
on the net) frozen along with me.

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