Why are people singing there postings on this mailling list ?

Benjamin Lutz benlutz at datacomm.ch
Sat Apr 15 14:23:10 UTC 2006

On Saturday 15 April 2006 15:23, Kees Plonsz wrote:
> Is is so important to know that the question or answer came from
> that person ? I don't think so.
> Even if it were so, for me it is too much trouble to import every key
> into my key-database from a key-server.

I sign emails for the same reason I sign my snail-mail letters with a pen. I 
like providing authenticity. Whether the recipient actually checks the 
signatures is not that important, important is that if the need or desire 
arises, he can.

I don't import every key I come across either, usually only those keys for 
which I get signatures on a regular basis.

> On the other hand, those who aren't able to read singed messages
> are confronted with a lot of carbage tekst wich makes the posting
> harder to read.

Most people use PGP/Mime these days. If your mail client does not support PGP, 
the signature will be surpressed or maybe shown as attachment. Either way, 
that doesn't make the mail content harder to read. And if your Mail client 
doesn't support Mime yet, well, that's your choice, and seeing the signature 
plaintext is far from the worst inconvience you'll have to put up with in 
that case.

> We don't send postings in .html for that same reason.

That's different. Html text means there's no readable content at all for 
non-HTML mail readers. And these are quite common.

I sign my emails for two other reasons. First, I'm advocating adoption of PGP 
by everyone. I wish to sensitize people for the facts that standard emails 
are neither private nor authenticated, and that you can achieve these very 
important things with PGP. Frankly, I find it staggering how many people send
around confidential information in emails over the public internet, without 
thinking of the consequences.

The second reason is very personal. It takes some effort on my part to sign 
email. I am not using any key agent, which means I enter my keyphrase every 
time I send an email. This makes the process of sending an email more 
conscious for me: I think twice whether I really want to send it. Sometimes 
times I've stopped myself from sending an email I would later regret (a 
flame, or an angry answer, something like that) at the signing stage. It 
means that sending an email is not as much of a fire-and-forget thing for me. 
I like that.

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