Various net rants

These are various opinion pieces I've written or collected over the years about a number of Internet related topics. "Rant" may be too harse a word, but "net polemics" just doesn't have the right ring to it. In addition, I have some political rants as well listed separately.

Note: At the moment my net rants are scattered over this site, I will try to reorganize them and make this location, the primary entry point to find them.


MS-Word is not a document exchange format.
If ever some file format was ill-suited for Internet document exchange it is MS-Word (any version). What started out as a short rant has turned into a fairly extensive document. It is available in several formats.
Mail software (and administrators) who don't know that error reports should go the the envelope sender address
This is a good document to refer the clueless site administrator, whose MTA sends non-delivery reports to addresses in the email headers instead of using the envelope.
Stupid Email disclaimers
It has become fashionable in the UK in particular to put in confidentiality notices with vague legal threats in to all out-going email. It's silly at best.
Abusive and misconfigured NTP clients
The Network Time Protocol (NTP) and the community effort to provide time syncronization are great things. Unfortunately some people configure their machines to use the system it what turns about to be an abusive manner.
I've got an ever growing set of stuff regarding spam.
Broken auto-responders which mess up mailing lists.
Here is an early draft of the auto-response rant.
Misuse of filename information in email MIME attachments
How Microsoft deliberately and maliciously interprets Email standards in a way that undermines the entire notion of interoperability. This document isn't written yet

Web stuff

Why web stats are worse than useless
This is a much cited document which used to live elsewhere.
JavaScript is evil
Don't browse with JavaScript enabled; don't design pages that require JavaScript. This document isn't written yet, and will probably just contain links to others who have said it better than I could.
Visual vs Structural HTML mark-up
This document isn't written yet, and will probably just contain links to others who have said it better than I could.
Standards compliant HTML
This document isn't written yet, and will probably just contain links to others who have said it better than I could.
Behind the scenes of seamlessness
These slides of an ancient presentation don't really constitute a rant, but it does talk about why it is important in cases to understand what goes on behind the scenes in network interactions. It also fore shadows something I really do want to rant about: Outlook Express' mishandling of MIME. Note that there are lots of bad links in there, but the series of slides (HTML) do work.
Can bad design lose votes?
An example of a spectacular failure to properly test a very important website.

Other people's rants

Here I list some netrants which I wish I had written, but am also pleased that someone else has done the work. That doesn't mean that I agree with everything that they state. This list isn't exhaustive.

Rant by Marc Merlins against those who configure their MTAs to reject mail with null envelopes
I have a local copy of his rant. I also picked up the term "netrant" from him.

Also has a catagory for this particular bug.

Why HTML in Email is a bad idea.
A rant by Thomas Gramstad which lists many of the reasons why HTML is not a good idea for email messages.

Note that the May 2002 version of that document has makes a common mistake, confusing "Rich Text Format (RTF)" with "enriched text". I expect that the error will be fixed soon.

Why Reply-to munging is bad.
That is a rant by Chip Rosenthal on why email list managers shouldn't set or overwrite the "Reply-To:" fields for their list configurations.

Version: $Revision: 1.13 $
Last Modified: $Date: 2007/03/26 16:32:04 $ UTC
First established: April 25, 2001
Author: Jeffrey Goldberg