Talk:Email

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 Definition A method of composing, sending, storing, and receiving messages over electronic communication systems. [d] [e]

e-mail versus email

I've noticed that professionally, e-mail is used in its hyphenated form, whereas email is a casual form. Should we attempt to use the term e-mail uniformly throughout the site, or would this be too difficult/not necessary to indicate the academic level of the site? Thanks. --Dominic DeStefano 12:51, 30 March 2007 (CDT)

It seems to be always 'email' these days. I suggest a move - Ro Thorpe 11:16, 15 December 2007 (CST)
I recommend a redirect. It's the same thing no matter how people reference it. Email/e-mail. In fact, I took the time to read this reference link, which is written by the guy that sent the very first email! Just as wired.com proposed to stop spelling internet with a capital "I", Ray Tomlinson suggests to just stop using the archaic "E-mail" by referencing Donald Knuth's proposal. --Robert W King 11:47, 15 December 2007 (CST)
As merely a data point, not as a policy or decision: I almost never use "email"--I have never stopped using "e-mail." --Larry Sanger 13:18, 20 July 2008 (CDT)
Discussed further below, the general term in ISP and electronic mail service providers is "mail", while most Internet Engineering Task Force specifications for mechanisms implementing these services use "messaging". In fairness, there are a few IETF documents with "email" in their title, but none of the core specifications of this technology. As with many fields, remember that common usage may be different than that used (looking for CZ-appropriate term) "experts" in the discipline. The actual protocol that moves "email" messages among ISPs is the Simple Mail Transfer Protocol (SMTP). There are two messaging application protocols that interact between the end user and the SMTP server(s), Post Office Protocol and Internet Message Access Protocol.
As a serious question, Larry, not meant as a challenge, if CZ is trying to differentiate itself from the Other Place by demonstrated expertise, is it not desirable to use the experts' term as the primary reference, and identify/redirect from various terms in common use? Howard C. Berkowitz 16:13, 20 July 2008 (CDT)
We've discussed related questions on CZ Talk:Naming Conventions, but I'm not sure that we have really had a good discussion about your precise question. In the interests of not creating an unnecessary distraction, I won't offer an opinion here, but might offer my personal non-probative opinion somewhere else. --Larry Sanger 22:00, 20 July 2008 (CDT)
I'd like to have that meta-discussion at an appropriate place and time. In the meantime, though, could we get a consensus among Computers editors? In writing new articles that pertain to this technology, I most often use "messaging", and "electronic mail". While I can see a redirect of "email" and "e-mail", I see those as correct and slightly nuanced; with electronic mail being a subset of messaging.
eFax happens to be a company name, but is most often used generically to describe an SMTP protocol data unit with a MIME-defined attachment type compatible with one of several facsimile services. Howard C. Berkowitz 22:38, 20 July 2008 (CDT)

major edits

Since pulling the source material from Wikipedia, the article has undergone major edits and revisions to both format and structure, so I've removed the "content is from wikipedia" tag.

As this is my first major attempt to modify an article, any advice and suggestions prior to editing by other users is welcome. I've applied a formula that will be uniform throughout articles that feature major revisions by me, explaining first "what it does" in simple terms, then "how it works" for the knowledgeable user, then "when it came about" and other pertinent details for the purpose of academic research. This structure allows for a tiered level of complexity for the reader and I've found it successful, but am open to further suggestions. Thanks! --Dominic DeStefano 12:51, 30 March 2007 (CDT)

Yes, but if it was based on the Wikipedia article, it's still a 'derivative work' in copyright law, and so the Wikipedia tag must remain, for legal reasons. J. Noel Chiappa 17:49, 12 March 2008 (CDT)
This article actually addresses several things: the user interface to email, a bit of the infrastructure, and social behaviors of email. What do you think of having this point to a new article on messaging protocols/infrastructure, which would be non-WP? Indeed, I wonder if the social behaviors should relate to other articles considering phishing and such. Howard C. Berkowitz 12:07, 10 June 2008 (CDT)
I've done some recent work on messaging protocols in general and SMTP specifically, although I wouldn't call myself more than a journeyman with things like procmail. Under SMTP, I have some empty subheads for issues such as interaction with spam, intending that to be a lead-in to technical anti-spamming measures. In like manner, I put a very brief introduction to MIME under SMTP. MIME, strictly speaking, isn't a protocol, but it probably should be in messaging application protocols.
Permit me at least to vent: I hate having email as the main article title, with electronic mail as a redirect to it. There is evolution in language, there is Orwellian Newspeak, and there is simple sloppiness by leet d00dz.Howard C. Berkowitz 10:59, 19 July 2008 (CDT)
I don't believe email is simply sloppyness on the behalf of the l33t h4ck3r5 of the world; are you proposing it to be the other way around? Surely standard do and must change; after all who on earth refers to it as "electronic mail"? Even languages that have no phrase, meaning, or literal translation for a "digital message" use some english-derivative of "email" (eee may ul). --Robert W King 12:06, 19 July 2008 (CDT)
Who refers to electronic mail? Well, certainly in documents that attempt at least as much precision as an general encyclopedia, my colleagues in the Internet Engineering Task Force (although there are several authors that use it in titles regarding filtering or internationaliztion), operational groups such as NANOG and RIPE, efforts to come up with technical and operational approaches to spam and other abuses, etc. As I think about it, "messaging", or "mail" in preference to email. There's a current thread on the NANOG mailing list entitled "Re: Looking for Network Solutions mail admin". Looking through a random selection of books nearby, I do find one O'Reilly administration guide that has an "introduction to email" chapter, yet another is titled !%@:: A directory of electronic mail and networking". Howard C. Berkowitz 12:20, 19 July 2008 (CDT)
That is interesting. I would have thought by now the world has mostly accepted the vernacular. --Robert W King 13:31, 19 July 2008 (CDT)
May I draw a distinction between recognition and deliberate use? Seriously, I'll use email conversationally, but, I hope, the only time I have used it at CZ is in the context of a discussion that is already using it. Indeed, I find "messaging" more useful, as I not infrequently will use SMTP for a computer-to-computer event notification when I don't want the access issues of SNMP or syslog.
When getting into multimedia, it becomes problematic what to call certain things. Is "voicemail" something that comes purely through my telephone? When someone leaves a message for me on Vonage, I can retrieve the audio from a telephone, but it also makes a sound file of the message and sends as a MIME-defined mail attachment. What should I call the latter? Voicemail? Email? Voiceeeeemail? How would I refer to it in a CZ article?Howard C. Berkowitz 14:07, 19 July 2008 (CDT)
In my scant 14 years as a user (of the internet, of course) I've pretty much come to accept the following:
  • email/e-mail/Email/E-mail/Electronic mail: all messages you receive based on your email address, delivered to you via mail protocols
  • voicemail: any audio based messages that you receive via a telephone/telephony based system NOT including messages you receive off of an answering machine at a residence
  • IM/instant message: any message received via aol instant messenger, windows messenger, yahoo chat, ICQ, or other instant-message specific network (not including Skype or IRC)
  • text message/SMS message: a short message received on a mobile telephone or pager
I was under the impression that these are universal concepts, but maybe I'm mistaken? --Robert W King 14:20, 19 July 2008 (CDT)
Very good summary, Robert - Ro Thorpe 14:36, 19 July 2008 (CDT)


(counts on fingers and toes) well, I first sent a message to a computer operator, the semantics of which were comparable to "IM" about 42 years ago. The command to send it (UNIVAC 1108 under EXEC 8), I think, was "talk".
At about the same time, I was using military messaging systems such as AUTODIN, which had many of the attributes of electronic mail. True, the messages, especially if classified, often came to me in hard copy, but even today I see secretaries logging into an executive's Outlook account, printing the messages, and putting them with postal mail and documents to read. I'm guessing, but the first reasonably generalized terminal-based electronic mail network I used was TELEMAIL, around 1974.
You might find Tom Standage's The Victorian Internet interesting. There were chat-equivalents over wired telegraphs in the 19th century. A telegram carries out the same function as SMS.
Quite seriously, in your example, what is the actual difference between IM and SMS, othe than the device on which they are received? Certainly, electronic mail can go to the small screen of a cellular telephone. I've worked fairly extensively with hospital information systems that variously used two-way pagers, which really doesn't seem very different than what you call IM. Specialized two-way systems were one-way paging, but the user also wore an electronic identification badge, so if we paged a nurse 1234 to go into room 207, the room sensor recognized badge 1234 entering room 207 and cancelled the page -- or, if no one went into room 207 within a programmed number of minutes, supervisor 5678 would then be paged.
My first pager that just went "beep" was on my belt in 1970; and I submit that is a trivial case of SMS. It certainly wasn't that long afterward when the pager could display a line of text, but it was receive-only. It was, however, in 1970 when I was starting to have convergence of communications problems when I was on 24-hour call. When something awakened me, I was apt to try to shut off the alarm clock rather than cancel the pager, cancel the pager but not answer the telephone, etc. Seriously, my recollection is that a field artillery forward controller, with access to a TACFIRE network, could enter target coordinates on a little keyboard that attached to a backpack field radio, in the late sixties. Nuclear launch orders, especially to submarines, came at an extremely slow rate that was a primitive SMS.
How is a home answering machine, with different mailboxes, an access code, etc., functionally different than a corporate voice messaging system like Unity or Meridian?
No, I would not say these are universal concepts, because many of the functions existed long before AOL or any other public access system. I would suggest that if they were universal, you would be able to describe them without referring to any specific network (e.g., AOL) or specific device (e.g., pager or cellphone or telegram) Howard C. Berkowitz 14:46, 19 July 2008 (CDT)
That's a good point. I had not considered that(probably my age being the factor). I guess my view of the things relies upon the delivery method at work; for instance I would not group "chat" (which I consider IRC and even the UNIX function of "talk") with "instant messaging" (IM as I know it given my generation). Fascinating stuff really! I'll have to think about all of this slowly and completely. --Robert W King 14:54, 19 July 2008 (CDT)


Believe me, I'm laughing with you, not at you. When I hear people talk about the "Internet generation", I often wonder why people forget that someone had to build the Internet, and that which came before it, before anyone could grow up with it. Even I was taken aback by Standage's book -- and I could once carry on very slow conversations in Morse code -- showing how many things we regard as "Internet" social behaviors were present in the 19th century.
As a very serious point, a network architect has to abstract function from means of implementation. I'm working on a system that monitors unattended boats for things like breaking their mooring lines or catching on fire, and, for what is really a one-way text application, have to consider transmission methods as diverse as cellular telephone, wireless LAN, VHF radio, and wireless LAN. I'm designing it such that it will be possible to run the alarm message over any of those methods, or others I haven't thought about. It's quite likely, incidentally, that the actual alarm message will be in the form of a SMTP electronic mail message. Getting too close to one means of implementation can limit options. A practical example of the way TCP and IP designed to be independent of the underlying transmission technology was first an April 1 RFC describing the transfer of IP packets over avian media, and then http://www.blug.linux.no/rfc1149/, the demonstration of TCP running over carrier pigeons. Howard C. Berkowitz 15:13, 19 July 2008 (CDT)