[Solved] How to disable > quoting of lines starting with From in email body?

Bart Silverstrim bsilver at chrononomicon.com
Tue Jun 14 19:33:37 GMT 2005

On Jun 14, 2005, at 3:15 PM, Danny MacMillan wrote:

> On Tue, Jun 14, 2005 at 02:28:45PM -0400, Bart Silverstrim wrote:
>> On Jun 14, 2005, at 2:17 PM, Danny MacMillan wrote:
>>> It turns out that when I send the same email both to freebsd-test@
>>> and directly to the account I have subscribed to that list, the
>>> mail delivered via the list has the From line quoting and the other
>>> one doesn't.  So it looks like the list is actually sending the
>>> From lines quoted over the wire and my FreeBSD configuration is
>>> okay.  Most of the mail I read on this box is list traffic so
>>> I didn't notice.
>> On this list?  I forget what it's called now, but qualcomm had a 
>> method
>> of quoting messages so that email would be indented properly on very
>> small displays, and it's a format that Mail.app uses in quoting
>> things...and I don't have the ">", but rather colored lines showing
>> indenting, so from what I can tell there's a formatting code being put
>> into the message to assist with proper word wrapping and the MUA is
>> responsible for properly interpreting the text.
> I believe you're talking about format=flowed.  I remember it from a
> posting war last year sometime.  The thing is that the format is
> determined by the sender, and this is happening even to messages
> sent by me, and those messages are not in that format.

format=flowed is correct, as my dusty mental archives tell me.  Works 
well...wish it caught on more :-)  That way there's less of a "cut your 
postings at line 72" complaint.  I hate manual formatting of my 

Are you absolutely certain that that formatting isn't getting into your 
messages by your MUA?  It would be very strange indeed for an MTA to 
start reformatting it.  I would be more inclined to believe that your 
MUA has the codes inserted and something may be *stripping* them out, 
or maybe converting to another format/MIME type or something like that 
in transit before thinking that an MTA or filter is *inserting* 
characters.  Probably only sniffing the traffic would tell that for 

> GUI mail clients sometimes are able to represent the > characters at
> the beginnings of lines as meaning that the line contains quoted text
> and represent that graphically.  Opera does it, it sounds like Mail.app
> does it too.  But they can only work with the text that is there in
> the first place.  Mail.app might have some real fuzzy logic built in
> if it doesn't interpet those From lines as quoted text.

Mail interprets the flowed formatting and interprets it correctly for 

I'm not sure where there's a reference of how different message formats 
handle "hard" and "soft" representations of quoted material... :-/

>> Perhaps it's a combination of factors; I remember some mail agents 
>> give
>> you an option of how to prefix quoted messages (the >, custom
>> characters, etc.).
> Yes, most do, but that setting only comes into play when you are
> replying to or forwarding messages and quoting the original.  It 
> happens
> on the sending side.  The issue I'm having is that the message is 
> altered
> in transit.  It is sent without a ">" in front of the From lines, but
> it arrives with a ">" in front of the From lines.

Or some clients (pure speculation here) may be representing where 
they're putting a "format=flowed" quotation symbol in by using that 
character or other times, depending on the format of the message, are 
actually inserting the ">" into the message and displaying both times 
with the same symbol.  I.e., sometimes the > is really a hardcoded >, 
other times the > is a symbolic entry to tell you where it would be 
inserted as a quote.  Then the people on the receiving end would see 
the > in the former case and whatever their MUA translates the code to 
in the latter.

Again, pure speculation. Sorry... :-( But it would explain some of the 
behavior you've outlined.

>> Only other thing I could suggest would be a sniff dump of the messages
>> flying over the wire then retracing them to find out exactly what's
>> happening, or see if your MUA stores messages in a plain format that
>> can be viewed on the console and see what exactly is in them (or use a
>> hex editor on the source to see if there are non-visible characters
>> embedded in the text for formatting purposes).
> That's good advice.  The mail store on this box is a Maildir folder.
> The messages are stored in plain RFC822 format.  Those From lines are
> indeed quoted in the mail store, so I guess I can absolve Mutt of all
> wrongdoing :)  Dovecot too for that matter.
> I don't have those "sniff dump of the messages flying over the wire"
> smarts.  If you can recommend a tool for doing that I would appreciate
> it.

TCPDump is the standard "workhorse" for sniffing traffic on Unix.  For 
the more graphically inclined, my favorite has been Ethereal.  Make 
sure you run them with root priv to access the interface in promiscuous 
mode.  There are a number of options for dumping output to logs or in 
hex/ascii format, etc. so you might want to look up an article on using 
Ethereal.  Dsniff also comes to mind, but I can't remember what exactly 
that was designed to capture; there's also Ettercap.

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