HTML by default in KMail

Yuval Levy ubuntu08 at
Thu Aug 12 01:09:16 BST 2010

On August 10, 2010 03:39:58 am Aurélien Gâteau wrote:
> That's the whole point of choosing good defaults. Trying to provide the
> best setup out of the box for as much people as possible.

"as much people as possible":  text is usable for everybody that likes html, 
but not the other way around.  So if the objective is "as much people as 
possible", the default should be text, not html.

"best setup" is relative.  You are (knowingly or not) playing a trade-off 
between "as much people as possible" and "as visually attractive as possible".

You may want to watch the following TEDtalk [0].  You are looking for the 
perfect Pepsi while you should be looking fro the perfect PepsiS (about 4:00 
into the talk).  Substitute software for food.  Clusters.  Embrace diversity.  

> Since we do
> not have hundred of people running KDE in usability labs, we can only
> guess what the best defaults are, based on our personal experience, on
> how we see users use our products and on our intuition of what would be
> best for them (and not necessarily for us, that's the hard part).

Yes, the hard part is to see others' preferences and limitations.  And to see 
the consequences of such seemingly small decisions.

Displaying HTML by default triggers a feedback loop:  the user will (wrongly) 
assume that HTML mail is readable by every recipient.  Worse:  the user will 
inevitably engage in bad practices.  Have you ever received a mail with "my 
replies in green between your blue lines"?  It makes you long for top-posting.

> >> If this option is not on then KMail
> >> is perceived as less powerful than their previous email client.
> > 
> > Unknowledgeable consumers perceive digital cameras with higher megapixel
> > count to be more powerful than models with lesser megapixel count. 
> > Experts know better.  Commercial interests cater to this misconception
> > because it's easy and more profitable than educating consumers and
> > offering them real value.
> We are not comparing a numeric value here.

You were talking *user perception* here.  The analogy stands:  You claim that 
users *perceive* a mail client w/o HTML enabled by default as less powerful.  
I claim that users *perceive* digital cameras with less pixel count as less 
powerful.  The analogy is that both perceptions are wrong.

The difference between the two cases is that a user buying lesser goods and 
believing they just got the best digital camera does not affect the general 
public.  A user who has the impression that HTML is the way to do mail will 
quote wrongly and mess up communication in many other ways.

Having them click, at least once, to see the HTML, will make them aware that 
maybe not everybody can or want to read HTML.

> We are discussing whether we
> should keep a one-click barrier between the user and the content he
> wants to access.

You should not put barriers between the user and the content they want to 
access.  This applies equally to users who want to access the plain text 
content.  A simple solution is to complement the "click here to display the 
HTML" button with a "make this a permanent preference" checkbox.



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