Talk:Email/Archive 2

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Archive 1 Archive 2

Recent published research: 1978 Invention by Shiva Ayyadurai

There has been some discussion focused on use of e-mail versus email (see above). I am not so concerned with that distinction as that publications over the last two years have clearly shown that the fully developed concept of electronic mail as an integrated system was copyrighted by Shiva Ayyadurai in 1978.[1] The article needs considerable adjustment to reflect that fact, and I have begun that process. Contrary to the recent undo edit August 31, 2014‎ by IRW0, this is not original research WP:Or, rather published information by several authors that cite a US Copyright and publications by established scholars and distinguished research organization, e.g. Noam Chomsky and the Smithsonian Institution. My corrections and additions to the article to reflect these facts should not be reverted without additional discussion here. --Zeamays (talk) 13:03, 31 August 2014 (UTC)

A set of opinion pieces by what appears to be associates of Ayyudurai is insufficient to ascribe the invention of email solely to him. Credible observers who have argued the point in the past must be persuaded. The Smithsonian, which collected some of his material, is still on the record[1] that he was not the inventor of email. Ditto the Washington Post, which earlier reported the contrary. Ditto some computer historians who flat out disagree with the assertion. Until the balance of opinion comes around, this remains at best a controversial assertion--an extraordinary claim requiring extraordinary proof. Until that claim is settled beyond Wikipedia, we cannot stake a position here. The best we can do--as was done in Shiva Ayyadurai--is cover the controversy. And before you attempt to do so in either article, you'll need to convince the community of editors here. Barte (talk) 13:28, 31 August 2014 (UTC)
I disagree. Since Ayyudari copyrighted the word EMAIL, he needs to get credit. It's that simple. This appears to be a controversy that not based on facts, since the documentation based on a copyright registration are clear. A copyright registration must be considered a publication. No one is claiming he invented electronic messaging, but rather the integrated system that comprises modern e-mail. I also note that IRWO objects to The Huffington Post (HuffPo) as a reference. This appears to be a misconception, since HuffPo is not longer just an aggregator of articles published elsewhere. The HuffPo site offers news, blogs, and original content. Approximately 100 Wikipedia articles link to HuffPo. The Weber article[1] cites numerous published documents in support. I see no reason not to cite it. The Washington Post Ombudsman ran a story about the credibility of Shiva Ayyadurai as the inventor, so it could be cited also in support.[2] It also documents the aggressive campaign by some to discredit Ayyadurai. --Zeamays (talk) 13:56, 31 August 2014 (UTC)
Bart, your citation to the Smithsonian is a dead link, so you need to withdraw the claim the Smithsonian doesn't support Ayyadurai. --Zeamays (talk) 14:00, 31 August 2014 (UTC)
Fixed--thanks for noting. And just to clarify, I'm not arguing that the Huffington Post series shouldn't be cited. Only that its conclusion, that Ayyurudai was the inventor of email, can't be our conclusion here until there is a consensus that includes his (former) critics. Until then, cover the controversy. Barte (talk) 14:22, 31 August 2014 (UTC)
US copyright law does NOT allow for the copyrighting of a word. He copyrighted a computer program called "EMAIL." There were already other email systems at the time. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 21:01, 4 September 2014 (UTC)
A copyright registration is a primary source. We do not interpret or synthesize conclusions based on primary sources - we need secondary sources to do this for us. You may not be aware that this issue has come up several times before; see above and in the archives. As TEDickey notes, this particular subject has a long history of dubious edits. Of course, consensus can change and you are citing a recent secondary source. In my opinion, though, that source (HuffPo) is not suitably reliable in this context - it takes a very pedestrian view of a technical subject, and a view that is contradicted by a number of other, more technical sources. VQuakr (talk) 23:46, 31 August 2014 (UTC)
VQuakr: The content of the copyright registration is a primary source, OK, but two other secondary sources I have cited discussed the copyright, the Smithsonian review[2] and the Pexton comments in WaPo,[2] so we are not depending solely on the HuffPo references. These sources corroborate the HuffPo articles regarding the basic facts, although not the stronger conclusion, unqualified statement that Ayyudarai was the inventor of e-mail. The Smithsonian review also usefully discusses the contrasting approaches of the ARPANET and Mr. Ayyurudai. I think the last paragraph of the Smithsonian review is most interesting in this regard (see my earlier remarks of today, below, on the need for a timeline).--Zeamays (talk) 19:16, 1 September 2014 (UTC)
Long ago I wrote a screenplay and registered it as copyrighted. The Federal government did not review it, evaluate it, or even read it. All they did was record my claim that I was the original author. I could just as easily have taken someone else's screenplay and submitted that and gotten a registered copyright, although the copyright would be invalid if the true author could prove they wrote it instead of me. I am not alleging that Ayyudari did not write a program called "EMAIL" and register it for copyright, and I agree that a registered copyright is a primary document. My point is that a primary document of copyright is nothing but an unverified, uninvestigated claim, and the government merely records the claim. JD Lambert(T|C) 22:15, 4 September 2014 (UTC)
You are essentially changing the history of email that has long-standing consensus. It is you who needs to explain why your changes to this existing consensus (based on a HuffPo article and "") make sense now that they are disputed. I am reverting the POV changes to the lead (and the part that includes that reference to the purported inventor's site), as they need to be discussed first. As I noted in the section above, the quote added is misleading, and that needs to be removed as well. IRW0 (talk) 15:37, 31 August 2014 (UTC)
I removed the misleading quote, which makes it sound like it was some impossible task that all of ARPA had deemed impossible. The report came from one engineer working on the "MS project"; extending it to the overall claim being made is original research. I've also reverted the changes of "email" to "e-mail" per WP:RETAIN. IRW0 (talk) 15:46, 31 August 2014 (UTC)
  1. Yes, I agree that my edits amount to changing the history, but it is well-supported by recent publications there is no longer an established consensus and the contributions of Ayyadurai need to be included as a major innovator.
  2. The quote to the RAND report needs to go back in, since no one appears to dispute it's authenticity. It's meaning may be subject to discussion, and I would welcome more detailed discussion of its meaning and context. The recent articles in HuffPo provide a basis for such a discussion.
  3. On review I have changed my mind and agree that the website "" should not be used as an independent reference. However, most of my points come from the HuffPo articles and the documents therein.
  4. I reviewed the revised Smithsonian link[3] (thanks for fixing the link), but despite your description it does not deny the contribution of Ayyadurai as the author of the full-featured EMAIL program we are discussing. Rather it acknowledges, "Exchanging messages through computer systems, what most people call “email,” predates the work of Ayyadurai."
  5. I changed a number of usages of email to e-mail in the historical section to make it clear to the reader the text was not referring to the EMAIL program. However, I certainly acknowledge that email has been in generic usage for a long time, use as we often refer to Kleenex, rather than the more correct "facial tissue". On reflection, I think using all caps for the EMAIL program may be the preferred solution.
  6. Like many inventions, what we today call email had many inventors, but I was very impressed when I read in the HuffPo articles how Ayyadurai had innovated and combined so many of the key features of a modern email program in EMAIL. I think the fact that he innovated a system that captured all the major functions of a paper-based interoffice message system needs to be emphasized.
  7. I asked for you not to revert my additions to the article without further discussion, but you went ahead and again reverted nearly all my text in several steps. --Zeamays (talk) 19:33, 31 August 2014 (UTC)
Re: #4 I think the question is: does EMAIL give Here is a longer quote from the Smithsonian website:
On Feb. 16, the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History collected a selection of materials from Shiva Ayyadurai of MIT. In accepting these objects, the museum did not claim that Ayyadurai was “the inventor of email,” as some press accounts have alleged.
Exchanging messages through computer systems, what most people call “email,” predates the work of Ayyadurai. However, the museum found that Ayyadurai’s materials served as signposts to several stories about the American experience...." Two reasons were cited: the role of Ayyadurai's work in computer education and in computers in medicine.
Re: reversions: I agree with IRWO. Please get consensus here among your fellow editors before altering the article in what, seems to me, is a highly contentious direction. Ditto your changes in Shiva Ayyadurai. Barte (talk) 20:18, 31 August 2014 (UTC)
Barte: When I started editing this article, I simply wanted to update it with new information that appeared to be lacking, derived from the articles published in HuffPo this week. I am quite surprised how aggressive other editors have been in dealing with me on this. This is, after all, an historical subject, not an article about a current political issue.
Because of past history--here in this article, Shiva Ayyadurai, and elsewhere. Your seem to be taking the HuffPo articles as a neutral, vetted, account of the kind one might find written by a New York Times reporter that can be used at face value. I'm not sure I agree. At the same time, I'm not convinced Ayyadurai doesn't deserve at least a mention. (Perhaps here we do agree.) He has some place in the history of email: but I think we need to balance his and his associates' claims and his critic's vehement response. This is at best a reignited controversy. And I think we need more editor eyeballs on this article. This being a U.S. holiday weekend, that might not happen until next week. Barte (talk) 23:45, 31 August 2014 (UTC)
Barte: I find the HuffPo articles very persuasive, because they include a great deal of documentation. The references in the current article do not indicate that any of the "prior art" contemplated the kind of complete package of services that the 1978 Email program provided. If I am wrong, I hope other editors with the necessary expertise will kindly provide articles on a par with the HuffPo articles (well-documented) to indicate what ingredients of a full-featured e-mail service were present in the earlier programs. I think that it would be particularly useful to put together a graphical timeline of e-mail developments, showing what features were added at what stages. Then the actual achievements of each innovator would be clear at a glance. At the moment, what I can glean from the non-Ayyadurai efforts is that they focused on linking different computer systems, not on providing a full-featured emulation of a paper-based interoffice mail system. More information, rather than less, ought to be the objective. --Zeamays (talk) 16:43, 1 September 2014 (UTC)
The problem as I understand it is that not everyone accepts Ayyadurai's definition of email nor his division between electronic messaging and electronic email. The argument was in full flower in 2012 and is recapped in Shiva Ayyadurai#Development of EMAIL, ensuing controversy. I suggest you read that section and perhaps Sam Biddle's Gizmodo piece, which is cited there. See also the computer historians Thomas Haigh and Marc Weber, both of which are also cited. From what I've read on HuffPo so far, the controversy may be better flushed out, but the basics remain the same, which means you are free to use those citations here. And if you're going to tackle this, you should. Here's the bottom line: it doesn't matter what you or I or any other Wikipedia editor finds "very persuasive". That's not our job here, not our determination to make. Our job is to cover the controversy, which means giving proportional representation to all credible sides. (Perhaps you already agree.)
All that said, the place I'm stumbling over the HuffPo series in terms of credibility is that nearly or all of the writers appear to be personal associates of Ayyadurai. (The first was written by a marketing guy with expertise in branding, whose relationship to Ayyadurai is not disclosed.) As an editor, I pause here, because I would I wonder whether Ayyadurai's claim has ever gotten any traction beyond his immediate circle. If not, is it really, as some of his supporters have claimed, due to prejudice? (That too is now part of the controversy and should be included here as well.) Barte (talk) 19:25, 1 September 2014 (UTC)
Barte: Thanks for the link, Shiva Ayyadurai#Development of EMAIL, ensuing controversy, which I just reviewed. Unfortunately, one of the key rebuttal citations (Nanos, Janelle (June 2012). "Return to Sender". Boston Magazine. Retrieved 11 June 2012.) is no longer on-line. Some of the most detailed rebuttal citations are to blogs, not edited publications. Nevertheless, you still make an excellent point that there are two key features that are the heart of this dispute: 1) making computers connect to exchange messages, and 2) the amalgamation of features that constitute a full-fledged e-mail system. No one doubts 1) had a long history before Ayyadurai, but from what I read, one had to be a skilled programmer to send messages before him, using command lines, and many of the key features of 2) were lacking (see for example Van Vleck's The History of Electronic Mail).[3] It would help if some expert were to enumerate the key features that were present before 1978 Email (the timeline I proposed above). I'm not persuaded one way or another by the fact that Ayyadurai's supporters publish in his support. My willingness to accept the HuffPo articles at face value is because of the documentation therein. Considering that the most detailed rebuttal of Ayadurai is in the form of blogs, I consider the HuffPo articles stronger by comparison. I hope a real expert will provide the timeline in a well-documented form. --Zeamays (talk) 20:34, 1 September 2014 (UTC)
You're welcome. Here's [the cite for] the Boston Magazine piece[4]. I think that to date it is the most comprehensive article written by a reporter trying to get both sides of the controversy. Also, I'd argue that the linked blogs linked do qualify as valid sources under wp:blogs: Self-published expert sources may be considered reliable when produced by an established expert on the subject matter, whose work in the relevant field has previously been published by reliable third-party publications. YMMV. Barte (talk) 21:25, 1 September 2014 (UTC)
Barte: You provided a WP policy that says blogs may be accepted, but may is not must, and you need to provide evidence the writer is an unbiased, established expert. By unbiased, I mean independent, not affiliated with a group that has consistently been antagonistic to Ayyadurai. I have seen neither. It is correct that former associates or colleagues of Ayyadurai have authored the HuffPo articles, but their qualifications show they are entitled to be considered experts, and they certainly are not attempting to conceal those relationships. The fifth HuffPo article[5] is by Deborah Nightingale.(Qualifications), more independent than the authors of the first four. --Zeamays (talk) 08:25, 3 September 2014 (UTC)
@Zeamays: That is incorrect. If the writer is established as an expert, and you wish to challenge their findings, it is up to you to provide evidence of their biases so we can take them into account. --NeilN talk to me 12:40, 3 September 2014 (UTC)
@NeilN: I quote you, "If the writer..." What we are discussing is a blog, so the writer must be known to be an accepted expert. I do not know these blog writers and I am not a computer expert. This is Wikipedia, where documentation is paramount, so I am just asking those who claim certain blog writers are expert to show they are experts. Since there has been considerable effort to discredit Ayyadurai, as has been well-documented, those who take a negative view of his accomplishments need to go the extra mile to show expertise and lack of bias. They might consider writing in reviewed publications, for example. --Zeamays (talk) 12:51, 3 September 2014 (UTC)
@Zeamays: No, you're still making policy up. Mike Masnick has been asserted to be a subject matter expert by Barte and myself. If you dispute this, you can take this to WP:RSN. If you feel the writer is biased, you must provide evidence to back up that assertion. --NeilN talk to me 13:00, 3 September 2014 (UTC)
NeilN: Please see WP:SPS, which states, "Self-published or questionable sources may be used as sources of information about themselves, especially in articles about themselves, without the requirement that they be published experts in the field, so long as: 1) the material is neither unduly self-serving nor an exceptional claim; 2) it does not involve claims about third parties (such as people, organizations, or other entities); 3) it does not involve claims about events not directly related to the subject; 4) there is no reasonable doubt as to its authenticity; 5) the article is not based primarily on such sources." In this case a self-published source is clearly making claims that involve third parties and there is an ongoing dispute about the authenticity of proper recognition of contributions to e-mail. Although the source has a WP biography, it is not clear from it what his background is in the history of technology. Since there clearly is a dispute, I don't think his opinions should carry more weight than the well-documented articles on the other side. --Zeamays (talk) 14:00, 3 September 2014 (UTC)
IRW0: Thanks for noticing the duplicated reference; you had deleted the section where I have placed it originally. On the lines about the 1978 EMAIL program, you've placed notices that in-line references are lacking, Why? There is no need to add references throughout the sentence, since they are at the end. I am going to delete your notices unless you provide explanation. I already explained (above) why I converted to all caps, and I should add that the Smithsonian statement uses all caps. I can be convinced to go back to Email or whatever, since it is not important, but what is important is that you are not discussing your reasons before you make edits. I will give you time to correct this. Or if you object to all caps EMAIL for clarity, just edit and convert references to the 1978 program to something like "Email (1978)", "the 1978 Email program", "Ayyadurai's 1978 Email program" etc. That would be more acceptable to me rather than accusing me of WP:OR just because I read the cited articles. I don't think it is WP:OR to read cited articles and base WP statements on what I read there. You quoted accurately from the Smithsonian statement, and sure enough, it does not say Ayyadurai did not invent e-mail. --Zeamays (talk) 23:13, 31 August 2014 (UTC)
As far as I'm concerned, the mention we have in the article now (under Host-based mail systems) is sufficient and probably represents the maximum of what we should cover here. While it's just a blog (and not a PR blitz on the huffington post), this post[6] on TechDirt is pretty damning. Ayyadurai appears to have written a specific implementation of email in 1978 and (as noted by techdirt) may be the first person to shorten electronic mail to "email". Other than that I this we do a disservice to our readers by adding more. It should also be noted specifically that Larry Weber is not a journalist but a PR guy. That doesn't mean specific facts in the article are untrue but it means we should be on the lookout for statements presented in the light most preferential to the subject, which happens a bit in that profile. Protonk (talk) 20:03, 2 September 2014 (UTC)
Quite a read--thanks for the link. Just noting that Techdirt, while indeed a blog, is a legitimate reference source here for the reason I mentioned above per WP:BLOGS: the blogger, Mike Masnick, is an established subject-matter expert who has published in reliable third-party publications. Barte (talk) 21:16, 2 September 2014 (UTC)
Barte: Please see my comments above about blogs. The Techdirt article is mainly an opinion piece, although it has a number of citations to orignal work. If you actually read these citations, however, it is apparent that the Techdirt author is over-interpreting them. Consider the VanVleck article, which illustrates just how limited the pre-1978 state-of-the-art was. The complete Crocker quote included in the Techdirt article, is another good example, since it clearly indicates that a MS user was expected to be an expert programmer able to use sophisticated operating system utilities to accomplish basic tasks ("...other Unix capabilities will be used to augment MS. For example, MS has fairly primitive data-base management filing and cataloging) facilities and message folders have been implemented in a way which allows them to be modified by programs..."). The actual message presented in the Techdirt article illustrates a very basic text message composed on a teleprinter, with the ability to print out a list of prior messages. So this example actually contradicts the author and serves to support the idea that what was the state-of-the art before Ayyadurai was not really e-mail, but text messaging, lacking many of the integrated features by which we know e-mail. See the Nightingale article I cited above and the other HuffPo articles for a full description of how the Ayyadurai program provided an ensemble of inter-related components that emulated a full-fledged inter-office mail system.
The Techdirt article also sets up the straw-man claim that Ayyadurai's supporters don't understand the difference between copyright and patent. In 1978-81 Ayyadurai was legally unable to patent his program, so he made the next-best choice and copyrighted it, which legally made him a "writer or composer" not an "inventor". When Ayyadurai claims to be an inventor, he is not making this legal distinction and just using common English, which is probably confusing only to IP attorneys. --Zeamays (talk) 08:25, 3 September 2014 (UTC)
Mike Masnick fulfills the criteria of expert: he is widely quoted (do a search and see) and has written for Business Week. Indeed Techdirt is similar to a number of online publications including GigaOM, Gizmodo, and The Huffington Post that are written by multiple editors and are best known for their opinion and analysis pieces. If by "bias" you mean the author has come to a conclusion, then it's a good thing Wikipedia doesn't prohibit such for references or the entire HuffPo series would have to be excluded. The authors all have a personal connection with the subject, are clearly "biased" in his favor, and have made no effort to bring in points or voices from the other side, as does, say, the Boston Magazine article. (I corrected the link--thanks for noting) I do see that you personally find the HuffPo series persuasive and the Techdirt series not. Noted. But irrelevant. Barte (talk) 14:32, 3 September 2014 (UTC)
Barte: OK we disagree, but you earlier proposed (and I agree) that the debate must be what is reported. That includes the initial paragraph, not just two one-line mentions of the 1978 Email program. Since this is a major unresolved issue of priority in the innovation, it must be recognized. --Zeamays (talk) 14:47, 3 September 2014 (UTC)
If you think the issue is notable enough to belong here, the place to start is in the body of the article. The intro is, or is suppose to be, an overview. WP:LEAD Barte (talk) 20:01, 3 September 2014 (UTC)
(edit conflict) the distinction between patent and copyright is fairly clear to anyone who cares to learn about it and is not "confusing only to IP attorneys". In fact, that distinction is commonly exploited by people claiming to invent things they haven't. In this case claiming that the us government granted recognition of an invention is as close to a deliberate misrepresentation as one might find. Specifically "At that time, Copyright was the equivalent of a patent, as there was no other way to protect software inventions" (Michelson, excerpted by TechDirt) is blatantly untrue and inserts the true but trivial claim that software patents didn't exist in practice with the notion that copyright is equivalent to patenting. Even if the patent office had granted a patent there would still be a mountain of prior art and a half dozen systems in use before 1978. Here's Weber "the US government officially recognized V.A. Shiva Ayyadurai as the inventor of email by awarding him the first US Copyright for "Email" ". That's just as misleading if not worse. Those two statements (and statements made by Ayyadurai in the past 40 years) are not merely uses of common phrasing to make clear an idea but conflation of two distinct legal protections in order to stamp some imprinteur of legitimacy on a claim that isn't supported by the merits. Protonk (talk) 14:50, 3 September 2014 (UTC)
Protonk: Please don't put words in my mouth. I wasn't referring to the Michaelson article, but rather to Ayyadurai's casual references to himself as the "inventor of email". Please don't think you need to explain the differences to me. However, at the time of Ayyadurai's copyright of 1978 Email in 1981, the legal basis for patenting software was in legal confusion, which is well described in the WP article, Software patents under United States patent law. In point of fact, Ayyadurai's claims would have been easier to sustain if he had registered a U.S. Trademark for 1978 Email instead of just a copyright, but even an unregistered trademark (like his) has some legal standing, as can be seen in the WP article on United States trademark law, "Common law" trademark rights are acquired automatically when a business uses a name or logo in commerce, and are enforceable in state courts." I would like to suggest you avoid using the word "legitimacy" in respect to historical claims of priority that have little or no fiducary value when discussing legal matters. There is nothing illegitimate about either side of this controversy. --Zeamays (talk) 17:57, 3 September 2014 (UTC)
That "the legal basis for patenting software was in legal confusion" is entirely beside the point. In fact my purpose in bringing those two quotes up was to highlight precisely the problem in conflating that legal confusion with the claim that because of the confusion a copyright grant stands in as recognition of an invention. The claims would likewise be hard to sustain if a trademark had been applied for for pretty similar reasons. Neither a copyright nor a trademark are a recognition from the government that person X invented concept Y. As for your suggestion, we're not discussing a legal matter. We're discussing a historical claim to precedence which is inaccurately buttressed upon what appears (to me) to be a deliberate conflation of two distinct terms, the aim of which is to give an air of legitimacy to a claim which can't be supported by the historical record. Protonk (talk) 18:38, 3 September 2014 (UTC)

The latest HuffPo piece (cite 3) is apparently by another associate of Ayyadurai.[6] I think he's going to achieve his goal of being famous, but not for what he wants to be famous for. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 06:21, 4 September 2014 (UTC)

I'm new here, but if others have not read this summary piece by a noted historian of technology on the Ayyadurai situation, I recommend highly. (For what it is worth, I detect no evidence of this being a genuine controversy among professional historians of technology.)[7]. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 14:01, 4 September 2014 (UTC)

Thanks for the link and your remarks. Thomas Haigh's bio is worth repeating here as he is, in fact, a historian of information technology. He is Associate Professor of Information Studies at the University of Wisconsin—Milwaukee and holds a Ph.D. in History & Sociology of Science from the University of Pennsylvania. He chairs the Special Interest Group on Computers, Information & Society (SIGCIS) for IT historians. If we are going to discuss the "controversy" over whether Ayyadurai invented email, it would be useful to have a few actual historians butting heads on the topic. Otherwise, it's like the "controversy" among biologists over evolution. Perhaps the HuffPo series will have some influence here, but that remains to be seen. Barte (talk) 14:19, 4 September 2014 (UTC)

Masnick posted a part 2.[8] Barte (talk) 15:27, 4 September 2014 (UTC)

Barte: I'm an actual professional biologist, so let me say I do see parallels to this is the history of biology, but not to Evolution. I's more like asking what was the contribution of Gregor Mendel. You see Mendel's contributions were undeniable, but did he invent the field of Genetics? Historians have trouble with it, because he had no immediate impact, ignored basically for over 30 years, then was given credit for his work,[9] but that work had no direct impact on the science in the 30 years after its publication. When it was rediscovered, it simply confirmed what had been learned in the 30 or so years after his publication. Furthermore, other scientists before and after him were doing what today we'd call genetic research, but were on the wrong track. In the case of Ayyadurai, his contemporaries were not on the wrong track, but others definitely were working in the field before him, and it is difficult to see any direct connection between his 1978 Email and later achievements in the field. Did Ayyadurai invent text-based, computerized electronic messaging? No. Was he the first to assemble a nearly complete ensemble of the components of modern e-mail? I'd say yes. Was he the first, or among the first, to use the term, email? Yes, definitely. So its not just a yes/no answer. He deserves a fair degree of credit. --Zeamays (talk) 16:25, 4 September 2014 (UTC)

The credit he deserves depends on how you define a modern email system: what exactly are the components and where's the dividing line? Historians will ultimately make that call. Agreed, historians may revise their opinion in time as at least one historian (odd-there's no author noted on your cite, or am I missing it?) has done with Mendel. But we don't know whether that will happen here 5, 10, 30 years from now. As I say, it's not imperative that we see some signs of a controversy among the people who take a longer perspective. But it would be useful. Beyond that, it's just us--Wikipedia editors--looking at the references and coming to a conclusion of how to present it. BTW, I think the Shiva Ayyadurai article has a different criteria. Whatever I think of the HuffPo series, it is certainly part of his history, and the relevant section could be expanded to include both a summary of the series and the reaction to it. Indeed, as you'd expect, the email controversy appears in the article's introductory section.Barte (talk) 16:55, 4 September 2014 (UTC)

Masnick posted a part 3.[10] JD Lambert(T|C) 18:59, 4 September 2014 (UTC)

Story picked up by Michael Hiltzik in the LA Times: "A discredited old yarn resurfaces about who 'invented' email".[11] Barte (talk) 00:04, 5 September 2014 (UTC)

Unexceptably inflammatory titles of references

The titles of some of Masnick's blogs are highly inflammatory. I think it's reasonable for the titles to be given on the Email:Talk page, but not in the article itself Email#External links (see WP:TONE and WP:NPOV), so I have deleted the inflammatory titles, while maintaining the actual links to the references themselves. --Zeamays (talk) 23:56, 4 September 2014 (UTC)

The actual titles from the RSes are too inflammatory, yet there was no problem adding "", seemingly run by Ayyadurai himself (and at least connected with his organization), without any note of that? Seems inflammatory to anyone who doesn't agree that he's the "inventor of email", so I've fixed it. (The current rebuttals are not the best debunking pieces for an EL section, though. But there's no reason to redact them simply because they're inconvenient for someone.) IRW0 (talk) 01:34, 5 September 2014 (UTC)
IRW: Your solution was to remove the mention of Shiva Ayyadurai's website and the balancing objections to it by Masnick. That avoids the inflammatory language used by Masnick in his titles, but it also removes references to Shiva Ayyadurai's website. It's not inflammatory to take a position one way or the other, and I don't have any objection to including the work of Masnick, just to the tone, as noted above. I was not the editor who added "" to the reading list; it was there when I first read the article, but it is normal to include a few self-authored websites in External links or Further reading sections at the end of articles. In this case there are already numerous citations that do not consider the contributions of Ayyadurai, so the section as a whole is not balanced. Finally, WP articles are supposed to describe controversies, and there is a consensus of editors that this debate should be addressed, in a balanced way, somewhere in the article. --Zeamays (talk) 03:09, 5 September 2014 (UTC)
I removed none of the ELs; please reread the article history. (And my point stands whether or not you initially added "". You were editing that section enough to collapse down two ELs on the same line, so it's reasonable that you might try to keep all three ELs balanced, not just hide the two you disagreee with.) My fix was just this change: [4]. However, I fully agree with the editor who did remove the three ELs. The Ayyadurai EL is not even obvious as his firm's site without special effort. It's not a reliable source, and it's too misleading for the EL section. IRW0 (talk) 11:11, 5 September 2014 (UTC)
I concur with IRW0 that "" is not a reliable source, and it's too misleading for the EL section. JD Lambert(T|C) 13:38, 5 September 2014 (UTC)

We are not going to reference sources in an article while excising the titles. The sources will either be in the article with the correct information or not in the article (as a matter of editorial judgment). Protonk (talk) 15:35, 5 September 2014 (UTC)

The same thing goes for external links. We'll either have them or not. We're not going to include them but redact the titles. Protonk (talk) 16:12, 5 September 2014 (UTC)

Repeated addition of Ayyadurai's list of features and its relation to interoffice mail

A list of features was added for Ayyadurai's email implementation. The first version didn't seem appropriate for the article (and I did remove it in an initial revert), but after it was readded by User:Zeamays, I fixed the formatting per MOS:CAPS rather than remove the list again [5]. The formatting was reverted after that, so I fixed it again [6].

The copyedits were again reverted in an expansion [7], this time copying and pasting a chunk of text from the HuffPo series (again, written by Ayyadurai's colleagues and business partner/PR agent) that was large enough to be a WP:COPYVIO of [8], so I removed it for that reason.

There's another aspect here. In the HuffPo series, there's a very strong push to claim that the "EMAIL" program implemented "all the features" of interoffice mail, and to claim that's why it was the first "real" version of email. In one article [9], it's noted this is specifically UMDNJ's interoffice mail with a detailed list of features...but other articles in the series claim "interoffice mail" in general. Since none of those authors appear to be recognized experts in interoffice mail systems, making the larger claim is unreasonable. Even just making the UMDNJ-specific claim, the author of that article was Ayyadurai's colleague at UMDNJ when the program was developed, and as such he is a primary source for the development of the program.

Zeamays, can you please provide a rationale for why we need a long list of features for Ayyadurai's program? ("Inbox, the Memo ("To:," "From:," "Date:," "Subject:," "Body:," "Cc:," "Bcc:"), Forwarding, Composing, Drafts, Edit, Reply, Delete, Priorities, Outbox, Folders, Archive, Attachments, Return Receipt, Carbon Copies (including Blind Carbon Copies), Sorting, Address Book, Groups, Bulk Distribution". Seriously?) Can you provide a reliable secondary source (not affiliated with Ayyadurai) that shows that the program did implement all the features of UMDNJ's interoffice mail system? IRW0 (talk) 13:10, 5 September 2014 (UTC)

I do not think the laundry list of features for one program belongs in this article. If someone wants to create a new article on the history of the development of email features, it would be appropriate there, along with every other electronic messaging system and every feature each of them implemented. JD Lambert(T|C) 13:51, 5 September 2014 (UTC)
I also agree. The specific list of features is not needed to describe the system. Barte (talk) 14:44, 5 September 2014 (UTC)
I added the longer list of features in my last edit after IRWO deleted the shorter list and objected to the use of "all" with respect to the features emulating a full-featured paper-based interoffice messaging system. The reference lists the features. 1978 Email didn't emulate a subset of the list. All or a list? Which way do you want it? It also is in keeping with the other entries in this bulleted list that also list features. So you will need to explain why you selectively deleted features from the 1978 Email entry and not the others (see WP:NPOV).
I do not agree that the HuffPo articles should be considered inappropriate, lumping the authors as affiliated with Ayyadurai is incorrect, although they may formerly have been such, some of them long ago. That is what, in fact, makes them expert on the subject matter. Some of his opponents are stated to have worked for other clamants who made contributions. It is a debate, after all. --Zeamays (talk) 15:57, 5 September 2014 (UTC)
"Some of his opponents are stated to have worked for other clamants who made contributions" Who stated this? Protonk (talk) 16:00, 5 September 2014 (UTC)
The list of features is out of place and as written appears to assert that EMAIL was the first of these programs to contain such features, a position argued strenuously by Ayyadurai's supporters but not necessarily supported by the history. Protonk (talk) 15:54, 5 September 2014 (UTC)
I've removed the entire feature list for EMAIL. As far as I'm concerned, that list should show features where they are novel and important to the development of email as a whole (e.g. the features for mail) and not as a coatrack for incorrect and discredited claims surrounding what seems to me to be an invented controversy. Protonk (talk) 16:11, 5 September 2014 (UTC)
I agree with Protonk, and the HuffPo articles begin with an author who is affiliated with Ayyadurai and whose expertise, if any, is in public relations. Then you have poor quality lies like this summary of another HuffPo article: "On August 30,1982, V.A. Shiva Ayyadurai received official recognition as the inventor of email from the U.S. government, for the work he had done in 1978." All Ayyadurai received was official recognition of submission of a copyright registration, and nothing more. No evaluation and no validation of an invention or anything else. JD Lambert(T|C) 16:33, 5 September 2014 (UTC)
Selective editing to delete novel features of 1978 Email, but not other bulleted programs, results in lack of balance. Please read my earlier posts about the need for a complete time-line of features. More information is needed, not less.
Which article was that? Please cite, so I can see what you're statement refers to. Of course it is a poorly-phrased statement, but every reference does indicate Ayyadurai began his work in 1978. You can't dispute that. On the other hand, it's unfair dismiss Ayyadurai's contribution as that of an author, rather than an inventor, just because he filed a copyright registration rather than a patent application. The law simply didn't allow software patents at that time, and a reasonable person would file for the fullest legal protection available, which was a copyright. In colloquial speech he was an inventor. Many inventions are invented in stages as new features are added. Electronic mail was no different. --Zeamays (talk) 18:15, 5 September 2014 (UTC)
Feel free to develop a complete time-line of features in your sandbox and then propose it, but I can not support a long, comprehensive list in one bullet without all of them having complete lists, and even then it would probably need its own article. If you want to shorten the only other bullet point that has details, I will support that. No one disputes that Ayyadurai was an inventor, or filed for copyright registration, or that patents were not an available option, but I and many other dispute the invalid inferences in the HuffPo articles that describe mere registration as "official recognition" by a civil government, implying evaluation and validation. You are correct that email was invented in many stages as new features were added, and as networks evolved, which is precisely why Ayyadurai does not deserve an outsized accolade as the farcical inventor of all of email. JD Lambert(T|C) 18:54, 5 September 2014 (UTC)
JD Lambert: I would have been happy with a simple statement that Ayyadurai's program emulated the typical paper-based interoffice mail system, but that simple statement has been aggressively deleted, twice. That simple statement is not an "outsized accolade". If we can get the overzealous editors to compromise a little, we can get something simple, short and acceptable. Otherwise, the description of the Ayyadurai project will be unfairly diminished by comparison to those that have descriptions of their features, which is not compliant with WP:NPOV. --Zeamays (talk) 20:34, 5 September 2014 (UTC)

In the current version, the list of text-based electronic messaging systems with features called out includes:

  • Host-based system: AUTODIN, CTSS (1961 listing), PLATO IV, Mail client by Kurt Shoens, MH Message Handling System
  • Under Email networks: PLATO IV, Unix mail, etc. --Zeamays (talk) 20:48, 5 September 2014 (UTC)
Zeamays, the first time you added a blurb to the EMAIL bullet, it cited an article by a PR specialist which claimed "It was the first program to combine all the functions of a paper-based interoffice mail system...". I certainly agree with removing that for reasons which have been explained by others. The EMAIL bullet currently has the author/inventor's name, which is wiki-linked, and 3 citations, one of which is a HuffPo article which has been debunked by Masnick. Nevertheless, I could agree with "1978 – EMAIL written by V.A. Shiva Ayyadurai to emulate the interoffice mail system of the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (UMDNJ)[43][21]". Anyone wishing to learn more would only need to click the link to Ayyadurai's article. Would this be acceptable to you? JD Lambert(T|C) 21:20, 5 September 2014 (UTC)
Yes, that formulation would be acceptable to me. You might be surprised that I have learned a great deal from these discussions, and I do seek consensus. However, I do not accept that Masnick, with his rude, insulting language can be accepted as a reliable source. If he were to write in an edited format and learn to restrain his language, he might be considered as a reference, but not now. I do not accept that anything written in such an offensive tone should be used in WP. --Zeamays (talk) 22:10, 5 September 2014 (UTC)
I disagree. Tone does not equal or negate credibility, and you will not find a Wikipedia guideline that correlates the two. Masnick is widely respected. His reporting on this issue was praised by Hiltzig in his LA Times piece.[11] And frankly, some of what Masnick uncovered re: the more conventionally written HuffPo series is outrage-worthy. Barte (talk) 22:28, 5 September 2014 (UTC)
I'd prefer to cite an article where someone is angry about a false claim than the false claim itself. Protonk (talk) 23:53, 5 September 2014 (UTC)
Masnick's latest post:
But, because HuffPo does little to separate out its "news" division from those open "blogs," the blogs get filed with all sorts of clearly bogus crap. Much of it gets totally ignored, but some (apparently including PR "guru" Larry Weber and his business partner Shiva Ayyadurai) are willing to exploit the fact that no one recognizes the blogging platform has no editorial review, to pretend that a "reputable source" has "confirmed" the story. Ayyadurai himself keeps pointing to the HuffPo stories as some sort of "vindication" (while hilarious suggesting that I'm being paid off by Raytheon...). He leaves out that these are all blog posts by his friends and partners, put up on the site with no editorial review. Again: every serious look into the history has found that he is not the inventor of email.[12]
That last sentence.....Hiltzig makes the same point: serious email histories have not recognized Ayyadurai's claim. Until at least some do, Wikipedia cannot. We are a tertiary reference. Barte (talk) 00:53, 6 September 2014 (UTC)
Since Zeamays agreed and Barte and Protonk have commented since my last post and did not object to my proposed edit, I have just made the change. JD Lambert(T|C) 01:15, 6 September 2014 (UTC)
The edit works for me too. Barte (talk) 01:17, 6 September 2014 (UTC)
I have no major problems with this version either; I'm glad we were all able to find a working compromise. (I removed the acronym since it isn't used later.) I would still like to see secondary coverage of what Ayyadurai's code did and didn't do; since it was supposedly donated to the Smithsonian, this may be possible in the future, though it's unclear how much was included. Thomas Haigh tried to examine it in 2012, but it wasn't available yet. [10] Haigh pointing out Ayyadurai quietly changing figures, timelines, etc, along with the "controversy" and Ayyadurai's own disruptive editing on his article here, makes me still wonder how complete the system was and how it functioned. (If it was truly groundbreaking and the code exists, why isn't a functional version up and running? Or at least a mockup of what it looked like; seems simple enough.) Haigh does say: "The system was apparently controlled by two letter command codes, with a menu option to display a list of available commands and select them numerically". Not necessarily much more user-friendly than some of the systems Ayyadurai claims are too complex for the average person to learn. IRW0 (talk) 02:20, 6 September 2014 (UTC)

IRW0: The articles published in HuffPo clearly indicate the capabilities. Your questioning in the above paragraph appears to be directed to the subject matter itself, not to editing issues (see WP:TPG and WP:LIVE). If you wanted to add material to the description of 1978 Email, that would be OK, but it is clear that is not your intent, but rather you just want to present your views on the program itself and of Ayyadurai himself. Since a hard-won consensus has been reached, I think enough is enough. --Zeamays (talk) 16:50, 6 September 2014 (UTC)

While reaching consensus was obviously important, keeping the article factual is even more important. My questioning is directed at the reliability of Ayyadurai's claims (yes, I editorialized a bit, but that's not the point); I'm not disputing the current content, but rather pointing at material that will hopefully clarify things in the future. IRW0 (talk) 06:44, 7 September 2014 (UTC)

EMAIL written in 1978 or 1979?

More Ayyadurai-related confusion. Both of the Smithsonian refs we have right now say EMAIL was written in 1979. There are sources that say 1978, but most are news sources and often quote Ayyadurai or his associates. Haigh's timeline of infographic changes [11] lines up with the Smithsonian's version, for Ayyadurai's earlier version of his timeline. I changed it to 1979, consistent with the current refs. (Maybe we need to include both...but only if we can find good, reliable refs on it being 1978. Not just Ayyadurai or news sources that repeated his info.) IRW0 (talk) 22:21, 7 September 2014 (UTC)

I think Smithsonian and Haigh are definitive until proven otherwise. 1979. Barte (talk) 22:47, 7 September 2014 (UTC)
Haigh even argues it could be 1980 and doesn't come to a definitive conclusion really. (Smithsonian refs are fine for 1979, just noting it could be later.) IRW0 (talk) 22:57, 7 September 2014 (UTC)
IRW0: So you consider that quoting the subject of a news article renders the article itself not a WP:RS? Please. Most of our news stories quote sources, and it's those that don't that are considered possibly suspect. --Zeamays (talk) 23:13, 7 September 2014 (UTC)
If it's a direct quote, that's WP:PRIMARY. Thus, it's preferred to use a source like the Smithsonian refs (which I'll remind you are the ones that came out of the consensus process.) Even when the news article is a secondary source, we need to be very skeptical of any claims due to the sheer number of retractions and other weirdness surrounding Ayyadurai. Scholarly sources are preferred over news articles for a topic like email, anyways. So, are you arguing against this change (which simply brings the article in line with the refs now), or do you have a point at all? IRW0 (talk) 23:23, 7 September 2014 (UTC)

This is interesting... Take a look at Ayyadurai (aka User:Vashiva)'s, edit history [12] and User talk:Vashiva. (He's self-identified, and the Boston Magazine piece notes him as disrupting Wikipedia on the date those edits were made.) He claims 1978 in many places, but in one edit summary says "As the developer of EMAIL in 1980 ..." Just another reason to treat any of his claims very skeptically. IRW0 (talk) 00:35, 8 September 2014 (UTC)

I consider the Smithsonian archivists to normally be far more reliable and objective than journalists. Both linked Smithsonian articles say 1979, so I think that should take precedence over other sources for this bullet. Any additional controversy over the year belongs in a new article on "EMAIL (computer program)" or a section of the Ayyadurai page.
By the way, if I wrote the first line of code for a program for a client in 1990, then write the last line of code and deliver it to my client in 1991, which year should I say I wrote the program in? JD Lambert(T|C) 14:07, 8 September 2014 (UTC)
Yeah, "written" is a fairly poor term for determining the date of computer software. "First working version" or similar would be preferable for EMAIL, though I don't know if we'll ever get that info. IRW0 (talk) 14:36, 8 September 2014 (UTC)
IRW0: I am not arguing for or against any change in dates. I just want you to be consistent with WP standards, including WP:RS, WP:OR, and WP:BLP. I really don't understand some of your argument about not accepting news articles because they include quotes from sources. A newswriter writing for a reliable source who inserts a quote in an article (WP:SECONDARY) does not make the article WP:PRIMARY. Also, it is considered acceptable to use quotes from the subject in a BLP situation, check it out WP:ABOUTSELF.
I have previously commented on self-published, unedited, blogs and their acceptability, regardless of the claimed expertise of the writer, because they violate provisions of WP:BLP and WP:USERG when they are used to comment on third parties. Also, for a blog writer to be accepted as an expert in the specific field of interest, not an area of business tangentially related to the topic, in this case, the History of software or History of telecommunication. --Zeamays (talk) 22:57, 8 September 2014 (UTC)
If it was unclear, I was not suggesting we exclude articles because they quote sources. That would be absurd. My problem is with including the 1978 date from a source such as [13], because the only references to 1978 are "According to Mr Ayyadurai ..." and in the form of a quotation from Ayyadurai himself. Using the 1978 date from such a source would be WP:PRIMARY and WP:OR, except if we use the same attribution. (ABOUTSELF, like you said. Yet you kept inserting unattributed/WP:SELFPUB OR yourself, that I had to remove: [14] [15] etc.) Most refs, especially the newer ones after more controversy, attribute any 1978 date to Ayyadurai or an associate, or directly quote one of them. This is different than a hypothetical article that simply says "Ayyadurai wrote EMAIL in 1978", which would indeed be WP:SECONDARY. I don't think you understand the policies you're arguing. (It's a moot point anyways, since I think we agree on the Smithsonian sourcing and 1979 date.)
I have no idea what you're complaining about with blogs. Nobody's really arguing that we use Haigh as a ref for the date, if that's what you mean. His findings are useful to discuss the issues with the date. Are you saying that it's not even appropriate to discuss those findings on the talk page? IRW0 (talk) 23:49, 8 September 2014 (UTC)
Please. I think we should discuss. However, the weight given to blogs in the article itself, and the acceptability of their discussion of third parties must conform to the WP policies I cited above. --Zeamays (talk) 11:28, 9 September 2014 (UTC)
I don't think the use of quotes transforms a secondary source into a primary one. The distinction between primary and secondary sources is often fuzzy but it's perverse to suggest that a newspaper noting a source is somehow less reliable than one which elides the source. The solution here isn't to apply the rather broad guidance around primary/secondary but to exercise some common sense. Protonk (talk) 12:55, 9 September 2014 (UTC)

Spelling section

I think Ayyadurai's EMAIL should not go there, because that's not a common spelling. (Not to mention, it's copyrighted and thus not a "spelling option" for general use.) There's some confusion over whether it's Email or EMAIL, as refs use both, but the author used EMAIL. Previously it was in there as "Email", which would make sense to include, but that's not the correct name of the program. Other than "eMail" (which may or may not be appropriate), the others are all in current usage. (Note that I'm only calling for removal from "Spelling", not "Origin".) Prior to the current series of edits following the HuffPo article (starting on Aug 30), EMAIL/Email was not in the Spelling section, [16] so removing it again is not against long-term consensus. IRW0 (talk) 16:11, 7 September 2014 (UTC)

With great effort, we've hammered out a consensus regarding Ayyadurai, which I thought you were a part of. Please leave it alone until at least there is more discussion in the media to understand HuffPo's reasons, currently vague. As for the significance of the terminology, please refer to Noam Chomsky's view. He's a recognized expert in the field of language.[13] — Preceding unsigned comment added by Zeamays (talkcontribs) 16:48, 7 September 2014
We hammered out a consensus over the "Origin" section. In the "Spelling" section, it wasn't even consistently capitalized until I fixed (not removed) it a couple days ago. I have left it alone; I noticed User:Pmsyyz removing it from "Spelling" and your revert, but I support that removal. As for Chomsky, Haigh points out some of the issues with his arguments, and your ref says nothing useful about the spelling of "EMAIL" (or even "Email".) (Actually, Chomsky says "upper case, lower case, any case" other words, he doesn't care about the spelling at all!) IRW0 (talk) 17:34, 7 September 2014 (UTC)
I've removed the section again. Protonk (talk) 17:04, 7 September 2014 (UTC)
As far as I can tell, all the cites associated with the section are either dictionaries, style guides, or RFCs/FAQs dealing with style--style as in the norms of spelling and usage that a publication adheres to. Given that we're dealing with the spelling of email, those references are appropriate. By contrast, the Smithsonian reference does not address the issue of how the technology is spelled. It only says that "Email” was what Ayyadurai titled his program. To read more into it is WP:SYN. I've also removed another bulleted item that has no citation at all. Barte (talk) 18:53, 7 September 2014 (UTC)
So are you also walking away from the consensus? --Zeamays (talk) 19:19, 7 September 2014 (UTC)
Can you please point to where we formed consensus on anything but the "Origin" section wording? Do you have rebuttals to any of the actual points raised above (by both myself and Barte) other than that you don't like the consensus? IRW0 (talk) 19:28, 7 September 2014 (UTC)
That was my impression too--that the consensus was specifically about an editing change proposed and made by JD Lambert. In addition, since that discussion, HuffPo has removed the five blog posts that have been the center of this discussion. That changes the landscape, to say the least. Barte (talk) 19:33, 7 September 2014 (UTC)
IRW0: I had taken consensus to mean the static status quo for several days in both sections referencing Ayyaduria, Spelling as well as Origin. Frankly I don't understand why the Spelling is a problem for anyone, since it is undisputed Ayyadurai received a copyright registration.
Barte: Since HuffPo has not offered an explanation, and there are other references that cover the same material. Even some sources that reject broader claims by Ayyadurai support the statements in the consensus, so I see no need to make any changes until the sources themselves change. I am astonished that HuffPo removed the articles, rather than making a statement of what had been disputed. But as WP editors, we don't do WP:OR. Let's wait. --Zeamays (talk) 23:09, 7 September 2014 (UTC)
The copyright registration just shows the name exists, which we show by listing the name in "Origin". So then, do you have a reference that documents the stylistic usage of "EMAIL" in the English language, as Barte asked for? Does one of these references show it as a spelling option in current use, like the other examples? You say "Let's wait". We're waiting by now being where we were before the HuffPo series with "EMAIL", other than including Ayyadurai's name in the blurb now. You're the one who didn't wait by attempting to change the history of email based on an article published by a PR agent. Are you really arguing that retaining contentious material somehow avoids original research? IRW0 (talk) 00:11, 8 September 2014 (UTC)
Zeamays: I don't think we had any consensus except with regards to that one edit specifically proposed and made. No one agreed, I think, to stay with the status quo, and no one should now that the five blog posts have been removed. I agree that HuffPo should offer more explanation, and perhaps they will. But what we do know is that the posts didn't meet editorial standards. Which means they certainly don't meet ours, and we must therefore proceed as if those posts were never made in the first place. So think anew. Find a reference to a dictionary, a style guide, a lexicographer that credits the EMAIL program with first use, with coining the name, and we can give Ayyadurai credit. According to Haigh, the OED 3rd edition, gives a June 1979 usage (“Postal Service pushes ahead with E-mail”) so Ayyadurai was not the first to use this contraction in print. Barte (talk) 01:41, 8 September 2014 (UTC)
I only understood a consensus on Origin. I understand EMAIL may not be a spelling option which is part of the spelling controversy but I think including it is good for two reasons: it makes the list more complete; it highlights the fact EMAIL has a different meaning from email, if the description points out that EMAIL is the copyrighted name of a specific computer program. That distinction would be valuable for any reader coming to this article due to the Ayyadurai controversy. JD Lambert(T|C) 13:25, 8 September 2014 (UTC)
So here's my problem with this. Absent the claims that EMAIL represented the invention of email, we have no indication that this is anything more than the spelling of a particular software implementation of email. None of the sources we've seen so far indicate that EMAIL influenced other implementations or specs in terms of anything, let alone spelling. As Barte notes above, the possible claim (one put forward by Masnick as a possible innovation and not really focused on elsewhere) that EMAIL represented the first shortening of electronic mail to something like email is likely preceded by the postal service's use. As the section right now is focused on spelling variations as they exist right now or particularly important spelling variations (e.g. mail, EMail), there's no reason to include EMAIL without either some sourcing that the spelling influenced something of note or is used today (for the latter see e-mail/email). As for concerns that someone coming to this article looking to the controversy might want help disambiguating the concept from a particular implementation, I'm not convinced. Mail exists, but we shouldn't add a note to the mail bulletpoint to distinguish Apple's application from the original RfC. Protonk (talk) 13:41, 8 September 2014 (UTC)

Protonk: You need to read my comments above about the historical comparison of the impact of Ayyadurai with that of Gregor Mendel. There are significant differences, as I described, but the most interesting parallel is that Mendel is not considered unimportant just because his work didn't immediately lead to progress in the field of genetics. --Zeamays (talk) 16:52, 8 September 2014 (UTC)

What makes you think I haven't read it? If we take the retracted series in HuffPo as gospel they don't claim that EMAIL influenced later works, merely that mechanisms in it predated them. Even so, no source that hasn't been retracted by its publisher stands by any claim that EMAIL influenced the direction of the email protocols or subsequent implementations. If, in one hundred years, someone finds a cache of documents showing this heretofore unknown connection between this implementation and the rest of the field then Wikipedia should note that. But we're not going to note it now on the off chance that it might happen. Protonk (talk) 17:06, 8 September 2014 (UTC)
Please don't misinterpret me. It is clear from your comments either you don't understand my point, or I didn't express it well enough. Let me try to clarify: Ayyadurai's early work on Email was not influential in the later development of email, we all agree on that. In reference to protocols, I am assuming you mean the codes that allow computers to pass mail between each other. In the period 1979-1982 Ayyadurai wasn't working in the field of computer networking, so we would not expect his work to have affected computer protocols. However, during that time frame Ayyadurai did successfully program a full emulation of a paper-based interoffice mail system, which was a significant achievement. --Zeamays (talk) 19:44, 8 September 2014 (UTC)
If EMAIL was a significant achievement, then WP:V, else WP:FORUM. Barte (talk) 22:23, 8 September 2014 (UTC)
Significant is a relative term, not absolute. Significant enough for a circumscribed mention in WP? Absolutely. --Zeamays (talk) 23:22, 8 September 2014 (UTC)
Is there a single reliable source indicating that EMAIL had an influence on the email protocol or other implementations? Protonk (talk) 01:25, 9 September 2014 (UTC)
I've never seen one. As far as I can tell, Zeamay's evaluation does not pass WP:V Barte (talk) 01:35, 9 September 2014 (UTC) OTOH, the current cite goes to the Smithsonian announcement, and the Smithsonian did collect material associated with EMAIL, explaining that the significance of the materials was in "computers in education" and "computers in medicine". If that justifies inclusion here, we're good. Barte (talk) 02:24, 9 September 2014 (UTC)
Hmm, the "computers in education" bit doesn't actually say anything about EMAIL (just Ayyudurai's summer studies), and the furthest the Smithsonian goes in the "computers in medicine" blurb is these materials document an effort to innovate in medical communication systems. I'm not sure these "signposts to stories about the American experience" particularly justify inclusion on their own, at least in "Spelling". (Especially when they note email predates Ayyadurai in the same statement.) IRW0 (talk) 03:29, 9 September 2014 (UTC)
Does the cite justify the one place in the article EMAIL is currently mentioned: in "Origin"? I realize I'm revisiting this, but it's a fundamental question. Do we have a reliable source we can reference that places EMAIL within the history of email? Barte (talk) 05:21, 9 September 2014 (UTC)
I think that yes, the Statement from the National Museum of American History article justifies a bullet point in the origin timeline. The last paragraph of that source sums up why the program is considered significant by the museum, in the context of electronic messaging. I do not see any need to expand beyond the coverage in the current [17] version though. VQuakr (talk) 06:51, 9 September 2014 (UTC)
@VQuakr: I don't agree. See here for a general discussion of the smithsonian refs. In this specific case we have an extant history of email which is pretty richly documented with multiple scholarly articles, hundreds of news articles and tens of thousands of artifacts. The claim that a heretofore unknown program had an influence on this history which went unnoticed by historians for 30 years demands a much stronger source than a press release. And more to the point I don't see what in the press release speaks to the claim I'm looking for above. Is there a reliable source which indicates that EMAIL had any influence on later email implementations? Protonk (talk) 13:00, 9 September 2014 (UTC)

VQuakr: I agree. When I previously referred to consensus, that it was that version to which I had reference. The HuffPo articles had documentation of more, but since they have been withdrawn, it is difficult to justify including more information here. While there is no requirement that WP sources be available online, HuffPo didn't give the reasons for withdrawal. --Zeamays (talk) 11:36, 9 September 2014 (UTC)

On Wikipedia, Mendel's contribution to genetics would have been considered unimportant as long as the experts in the field thought they were unimportant. If that began to change, if some experts revised their opinion, the Wikipedia article would reflect that revision. But not until. Barte (talk) 17:10, 8 September 2014 (UTC)
You've missed the point, sorry, I must not have explained it well enough. There is no revision to experts' views of Mendel. What I'm trying to express is that lack of immediate impact does not mean experts do not recognize a technical or scientific achievement. No more. --Zeamays (talk) 19:44, 8 September 2014 (UTC)

Huffington Post removes series

FYI: The Huffington Post has removed the series of articles claiming Ayyadurai invented email. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 04:33, 7 September 2014 (UTC)

Removed the cites that linked to these articles. --NeilN talk to me 04:48, 7 September 2014 (UTC)
For the record (from the above link): Editor's Note: The post that previously appeared in this space -- part of a blogger-generated series on the history of email -- is no longer available. Readers and media commentators alerted us to factual and sourcing issues in the series and, after an internal review, we removed it from the site. Barte (talk) 06:03, 7 September 2014 (UTC)

I began my first edit 31 August entirely in response to what I read in the Huffington Post series. I have no connection to Shiva Ayyadurai, and had never seen the previous articles in the Washington Post about his claims before then. Based on my reading of the additions to Talk page before 31 August, at that time I had thought the main issue before then was just the semantics of his use of the word, email. Therefore, having invested considerable time defending my edits and coming to a consensus with other editors on this article over the past week or so, I think I have a right to be concerned what are the specific reasons the Huffington Post has deleted the series? The statement is vague, and the search result pointing to the series has not been removed as of now.[18]. The current references to 1978 Email and Ayyadurai from the Smithsonian and the 2nd WaPo article by Patrick B.Pexton, Origins of e-mail: My mea culpa have not been challenged, except perhaps in independent blogs. Nevertheless, this matter is unsettling. I think I am going to wait a good while and see what further material develops before considering this article again. --Zeamays (talk) 06:29, 7 September 2014 (UTC)

When a news organization of national caliber (NPR, NYT, etc.) screws up, they investigate themselves as thoroughly as any other story and candidly report the results. Doing so is surely painful, but ultimately, the act is what helps maintain credibility going forward. So I agree: the paragraph quoted above is vague and brief. I hope for HuffPo's own sake that they are more forthcoming about what went wrong, as well as addressing the broader issue of the blurring of its unvetted blogs and vetted news. Readers, and Wikipedia editors, should be able to readily tell them apart. Barte (talk) 06:41, 7 September 2014 (UTC)
Funny thing, I stumbled onto this article after reading one of the HuffPo pieces myself (I'd heard Ayyadurai's name once or twice before, but didn't have a particular opinion of him either way.) It would be nice if they'd explain exactly what the issues are; it seems fairly drastic to pull the entire series. But this is HuffPo, so I'm not holding my breath. (And echo Barte about the blurring between blogs and news here. At the very least, HuffPo should have included a disclaimer noting the connections between the authors and the subject.) IRW0 (talk) 06:53, 7 September 2014 (UTC)
Are you really saying "the 2nd WaPo article by Patrick B.Pexton...[has] not been challenged"? Because it's a retraction. It's a blog post from the ombudsman explaining how they screwed up in posting the original story suggesting Ayyadurai was the inventor of email. That counts as a challenge to me. Protonk (talk) 17:09, 7 September 2014 (UTC)
I quote from Pexton (03/01/2012), "But I think it’s safe to say that although Ayyadurai is an interesting fellow, and that, as a teenager, he did develop an early electronic messaging system for about 100 users at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey and obtained a 1982 copyright for its computer code — he named the program, all uppercase, “EMAIL” — he should not have been called “inventor of e-mail” in the headline." Pexton did not challenge the facts, only an exaggerated interpretation. I have addressed the fact that e-mail was a multi-inventor invention previously on this page. Also see my comment below regarding WP:Balance. --Zeamays (talk) 16:27, 8 September 2014 (UTC)

Update from Masnick after the HuffPo removal.[14] Masnick actually provides a reply to User:Zeamays's comments here: amusingly, one of their supporters kept trying to reject others pointing to my detailed debunkings by saying it doesn't count since I'm just a blogger -- ignoring that Weber, Ayyadurai and their friends were using HuffPo's blogging platform as well. And Ayyadurai isn't backing down on making apparent false claims: Ayyadurai is now claiming in the Economic Times of India that Arianna Huffington herself "commissioned" the series after hearing Ayyadurai give a talk. ... HuffPo PR got back to me to say that (once again) Ayyadurai is lying, and that "neither HuffPost nor Arianna 'commissioned' Shiva's series." IRW0 (talk) 13:33, 8 September 2014 (UTC)

This is interesting. Although WP Talk pages are public information, it is very unusual for a discussion to be reported elsewhere. My edits must be considered significant. I did not ignore that the Ayyadurai articles were blogged; at the time, there was no evidence published on HuffPo to indicate that they were not edited by HuffPo. The message removing them indicated such, but that was not apparent previously, although several editors claimed that to be the case on this page. As for my being an Ayyadurai supporter, I am not, I merely seek balance, see WP:Balance. I was impressed by the documentation provided by the HuffPo series and I considered that the absence of credit for his achievement documented in it was a serious gap in the Email article. In addition to my concerns about Mr. Masnick's use of incendiary language in his titles (which likely provoked the aforementioned threatened lawsuit), I have more substantive objections to their use as rebuttal material. I do not find Mr. Masnick's article "detailed debunkings" either detailed or convincing. They are long on rhetoric, but lack sufficient specific facts and detailed references to convince me. Whereas, the materials formerly available on HuffPo were loaded with specific details, and those details are supported by other sources. Masnick did not distinguish between the achievement of sending text messages between computers (prior art) and the achievement of emulating a paper-based interoffice mail system (Ayyadurai's 1979 Email program). --Zeamays (talk) 16:33, 8 September 2014 (UTC)
Yes, edits that massively change [19] the narrative of a of an article like email are "significant". Media mentions of articles are fairly common (see the {{online source}} and {{press}} templates, which are used on about 3500 articles, some for several mentions...) Those articles often reference talk page discussions, and it's not uncommon to pick up on individual editors. For example, this case [20] where a lone climate-change denier kept climate change out of the Hurricane Sandy article by tying up the talk page for a week. As for calling you an Ayyadurai supporter and your other concerns, take it up with Masnick. (The comments section on his blog is open.) The consensus here is that he is a reliable source and that his language is immaterial to our encyclopedic goals. We don't even cite Masnick in the article. IRW0 (talk) 21:32, 8 September 2014 (UTC)
Wrong again. Your own quote from Masnick states, "one of their supporters kept trying to reject others pointing to my detailed debunkings...." He was not pointing to my initial edit, but to my defense of it. Mr. Masnick may be a reliable source on current business of the software or hardware industries. However, his WP article does not describe him as a historian, and his blogs on Ayyadurai are scantily-documented, but rich in rhetoric. Obviously we disagree. Therefore, there is no such consensus. --Zeamays (talk) 23:14, 8 September 2014 (UTC)
Well, obviously Masnick was talking about talk page discussions. Unfortunately, you failed to see the snideness in me pasting that diff. (In other words, I don't find your talk page discussions "significant", nor do I think Masnick did. I did find your initial change "significant", but not in a good way, so I pasted it as an example of a significant edit of yours.) You also can't claim lack of consensus based on the two of us disagreeing. The overall tone of this page has been that Masnick is fine to source for certain information, such as pointing out inconsistencies in Ayyadurai's arguments (which isn't even being used as a cite.) That's the consensus I'm talking about. IRW0 (talk) 23:56, 8 September 2014 (UTC)
I don't think it was obvious at all. They could've been talking about anyone. Regardless, it's not a productive line of discussion. Protonk (talk) 13:05, 9 September 2014 (UTC)

IRW0: Maintaining a civil discussion, without snide comments regarding other editors, as you admit to have made above, is important for WP talk pages. Please relax a little. If you think there is consensus for using Mr. Masnick as an expert on the field of History, I suggest you obtain third-party buyin, using established WP procedures. As of now, there is no such consensus, sorry. --Zeamays (talk) 11:45, 9 September 2014 (UTC)

I'm sorry if you feel the point could've been made better. I will point out, though, that you were the one to state that your edits "must be considered significant", inviting a rebuttal. For what it's worth, I don't consider many of my edits here all that significant either; Haigh, Masnick, and others reached most of the same conclusions before I'd even heard much about Ayyadurai. I'm still not sure what you're complaining about in regard to using Masnick as an expert; which noticeboard handles whether or not a certain author can be discussed on an article talk page? (I mean, you're even using Masnick yourself as an expert to determine your own significance...) What does this supposed lack of consensus mean? That I can't make arguments on a talk page that reference Masnick? IRW0 (talk) 23:27, 10 September 2014 (UTC)

Pumping the brakes on the Smithsonian train

So I've seen a number of posts on this page indicating that we're accepting the Smithsonian refs as dispositive on a broad set of claims or that they are more reliable than other sources. I'm not so sure. Right now we have the press release and the blog post on the Smithsonian magazine's web site.

  • The press release: When we dig down it says very little. The first paragraph is devoted to clearing up claims that the acceptance of the materials represented a recognition that Ayyudurai invented email. The second describes the materials in the collection. The third and fourth give reasons why the museum accepted the material, neither of which relate to email at all. The third notes that the copyright documentation and a copy of the source code has been handed over. The last is a sort of hodgepodge, perhaps the only thing clearly noted was that EMAIL ran in a normal office setup, not a gigantic network of institutions.
  • The blog post: This says a bit more, but it's still not much. The first paragraph gives us a date, the second gives us the (likely false) claim that EMAIL represented a first for various features such as cc:, etc. The rest isn't really all that edifying. The blog post is nominally a secondary source, a work of journalism on the blog of a magazine we generally regard as a reliable source. But it also repeats some of the same errors made at the time by journalists, ignoring prior work noted by Masnick and Haigh. The major claim in it which relates to the novelty or influence of EMAIL relies on those errors (for a more detailed history that shows where some of these features were developed in other places see here (PDF). I don't have a real problem using that blog post to cite the claim that EMAIL was written "to emulate the interoffice mail system of the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey" (which is what is the case in the current revision), but I have many problems with citing it to support any broader claims, specifically claims that EMAIL influenced later approaches to the protocol.

The press release has other problems. For one (and we seem to forget this because the smithsonian is a cherished institution in the states), it's a press release. We should be as skeptical of the claims made within as we would be were it a GE press release. It's not a work of scholarship or journalism. Let's not get wrapped around the axle with respect to PRIMARY/SECONDARY here. Just remember that it is a statement released to the press by an institution about a new collection. It's also important to note that the statement was probably released in reaction to this washington post article (since corrected, see the local refs). Again, don't get worked up over whether or not using our brains here is OR but try to keep it in context. If you want something a little less OR, boston magazine has a good rundown of the timeline, indicating that the press release was a direct response to criticism which arose over the original WaPo article. Protonk (talk) 12:49, 9 September 2014 (UTC)

I wouldn't equate a press release from the Smithsonian with one from GE because I wouldn't equate a respected archivist of American history with a for-profit company. And I think it's a mistake to dismiss the form: a press release is a statement from the organization, just as is a blog post. This is purely subjective, but I think being in the National Museum of American History is reasonable evidence of historical significance. Dorothy's ruby slippers for example--once part of the collection, they are no longer just MGM props. It would have been a stronger case if the museum had been more explicit about how EMAIL fits into email history, rather than that mention they give in the last paragraph. But when I look at other email programs we have listed, many of them don't have strong (or any) third-party endorsement either. I'm inclined to leave in. Barte (talk) 14:28, 9 September 2014 (UTC)
I think you're overestimating the informational value of something being added to a collection. As you note, if the red slippers get added, they're no longer just props but what else can we say other than "the red slippers were added to the collection of XYZ"? What conclusions can we draw from their inclusion? That they're significant? to what degree and in what way? Here's where a bona fide secondary source would work well and where a press release works poorly. you mention above that it would be a stronger case if the museum indicated how EMAIL fits into the history. I suspect the didn't because it doesn't, but I can't tell from the release alone. Who wrote the release? The curator? One of the archivists? A press agent? What were the circumstances of the acquisition? Did Ayyudurai donate the materials, hoping that their acceptance would bolster his claim, or did the museum seek them out because they were looking to explore the history of email? These questions crop up because we're basing our guesses on a press release, not on an actual work of journalism or scholarship. As for the museum itself, why are they exempt from scrutiny where a company would not be? In this case it appears they had an incentive to make the release to stem the flow of bad press from the acquisition itself. Is that self interest more noble because they don't have a profit and loss statement?
In any case most of the above questions are marginal because the information provided by the press release doesn't say that much about our question at hand: how do we situate EMAIL in the history of email? Protonk (talk) 15:01, 9 September 2014 (UTC)
It doesn't matter who wrote the press release. It's a statement from the museum, which makes it a valid primary source, whatever the motivations. A secondary source would indeed be better, but I don't see secondary sources justifying most of the other programs we list in Origins. Many of them do have their own Wikipedia entry. Perhaps that's the criteria? (BTW, Ruby slippers have has several references to their being in the Smithsonian. It's evidence of notability.) Barte (talk) 15:13, 9 September 2014 (UTC)
I never said it wasn't a valid primary source. If we want to treat it as a primary source on the acquisition itself that's fine. But we should be careful about extending it to cover other claims like we are with any primary source. As for my other concerns, they're still a problem. Namely very little of the content of the press release is informative at all for our purposes.
As for the rest of the entries on the list, I suspect they're largely still there because they haven't been challenged. It's probably instructive that they all have wikipedia articles while EMAIL does not but I don't see that as a hard criterion. I'd be happy if we added sources for each indicating their role in email's evolution and I have little doubt that we'd find such sources. Protonk (talk) 15:29, 9 September 2014 (UTC)
Agreed. Barte (talk) 15:31, 9 September 2014 (UTC)

Let's not forget that cherished institutions make mistakes too. Not saying that's the case here, because I don't think it's wrong to accept a FORTRAN program from around 1980 as an artifact of its time, and the Smithsonian "update" to the blog post pointedly says “Ayyadurai’s materials served as signposts to several stories about the American experience", which suggests that its value is more along the lines of how a 14 year old immigrant child wrote an implementation of email that was impressive for its time and creator, rather than that Ayyadurai invented email. Without clarification (the given URL is dead), it's impossible to know what story the Smithsonian would like us to believe their motivations were. That said, if the Smithsonian were telling one story and all of the recognized experts on the subject were saying that the Smithsonian position is wrong, you can be sure the Smithsonian was wrong. It doesn't matter that it's a museum (museums have been wrong plenty of times) or loved (our loved ones are frequently wrong), or non-profit (really, what has that got to do with anything?). It doesn't make a lot of sense to go through contortions making excuses for them. The effort would be better spent educating them as to their error. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 23:48, 11 September 2014 (UTC)

"emails" vs. "email messages"

An editor would like to change all the instances of "emails" to "email messages" since he considers emails to be slang. I think the term is in common usage, and it appears in at least some dictionaries. The 3rd edition of the Oxford English Dictionary is one example, where one of the definitions of the noun "email" is "A system for sending textual messages (with or without attached files) to one or more recipients via a computer network (esp. the Internet); a message or messages sent using this system. " Anyone object to leaving the article as is with "emails"? Meters (talk) 21:15, 5 February 2015 (UTC)

I think both versions are acceptable here for the reasons you cite. But "email messages" is a shade more precise, which is useful in an encyclopedia. Is there a reason not to go with it? Barte (talk) 21:34, 5 February 2015 (UTC)
The reason given for the change was that the editor considered "emails" to be slang. I undid it and explained why on his talk page. He reverted so I started this thread and informed him of the WP:BRD process to stop an edit war. Since he has replied to my posting on his talk page and made other edits to the article I assume he now accepts that "email" is acceptable. I don't see how "email messages" is any more precise than using "emails" as defined by the OED, but I wouldn't argue against it. I undid the edit because the reason behind the change was faulty. Meters (talk) 03:10, 6 February 2015 (UTC)
Agreed: the term isn't slang. But I do think that "email message" is more precise because we explicitly define email as a method and a technology. We don't define it as a message. So while most readers will understand the common usage, using the more complete form makes it unambiguous for those few who don't. Doesn't hurt. Could help. I think this is a good idea, even if the stated rationale is faulty. Barte (talk) 03:59, 6 February 2015 (UTC)
Hi. Both are acceptable. The problem with the original assertion is that even without the Oxford Dictionary definition, using "emails" instead of "email messages" would be synecdoche, not slang. Best regards, Codename Lisa (talk) 04:00, 6 February 2015 (UTC)
(e.c.) As I said, I won't argue against the change on those grounds. Feel free to change it as far as I'm concerned. Meters (talk) 04:06, 6 February 2015 (UTC)
<heh> Having made the case and looking over the entry, I realize that to be consistent in differentiating email messages from other uses of the term would be a major find-and-replace operation. How about instead this simple change to the first sentence: Electronic mail, most commonly referred to as email or e-mail since c 1993,[2] is a method of exchanging digital messages, e.g. "emails", from an author to one or more recipients. Barte (talk) 08:30, 6 February 2015 (UTC)

So where are we now? Is it okay for me change "emails" to "email messages" (or simply "messages" where that is sufficiently clear) so long as I say in the edit comment that it is for "precision" rather than because of "slang"? Leegrc (talk) 12:49, 6 February 2015 (UTC)

  • oppose per COMMONNAME. "Email message" is a dreadful affectation. It might be justified in a narrrow context where we're distinguishing "message" from "header", but that's about it. Andy Dingley (talk) 12:58, 6 February 2015 (UTC)
Watch out! — I got beat up for using the word "slang"; I shudder to think what they will do to your "dreadful affectation". :-) Seriously, though, I agree that "email message" is at least a mouthful. I would like to shorten it to "message" rather than "email". Does your objection apply there as well? Leegrc (talk) 13:07, 6 February 2015 (UTC)
"Email" is largely implicit in an article about Email, so it's rarely necessary to re-state it when it's only being used as a qualifier. We would have a "History" section, not a "History of email" section.
If "email message" is being used where message is the primary part and email a still-necessary sub-qualifier within it, then it might be justified. We might say "Email messages replaced telex messages by 1999". However for the commonplace case where everyday use is to say "email", then we should do just that and stay with "email" alone.
I don't see this synecdoche, but rather as a modern neologism. One where that neologism was "email" from the outset, never passing through a stage of "email message" that was later truncated by slang. Andy Dingley (talk) 13:17, 6 February 2015 (UTC)
I suspect the use of "send me email" vs. "send an email" is geography dependent. Where I haunt, the former is the more dominant phrase because the latter is compared to "send a (postal) mail" and is considered incorrect. Leegrc (talk) 13:24, 6 February 2015 (UTC)
The modern usage is the crux of the matter, but perhaps the historical perspective can be helpful. Having experienced it myself since the mid 1980s, I saw the dominant form of the collective noun go from "electronic mail" to "email" to "e-mail" and back to "email". The dominant form for the individual message was those phrases with "message" appended, or simply "message" where the context was sufficient. These days, I do hear a message referred to as an "email" though less frequently. "Email message" and "message" predated "email" for this usage, though I acknowledge that that is somewhat moot; the real issue is a weighing of precision and modern-day dominance. Leegrc (talk) 13:36, 6 February 2015 (UTC)
The use of 'email' should really be no different from the use of 'mail'. I don't believe I have ever heard anyone state I received three mails from my friend, when referring to postal letters. Such usage would seem rather uneducated. One would say I received three pieces of mail, or simply state specifically, I received three letters. Mail is a term that is used without the implication of plural or singular. The use of email should be handle just the same, but unfortunately there are no or perhaps only a few specific terms for email messages, so the distinction of plural (with s) and singular use has arisen in informal language. It does not seem appropriate to me for use in formal encyclopedic writing. Kbrose (talk) 13:38, 6 February 2015 (UTC)
This argument is flawed. I've already pointed out that one of the OED definitions of "email" is exactly this usage (the actual electronic message), so it's irrelevant how "mail" is used. And the OED does not label this usage as informal. Meters (talk) 17:32, 6 February 2015 (UTC)
You have offered nothing that is not flawed, nor have you provided a reason for your view. The OED is not a judge for correctness either, it is not prescriptive but rather describes usage. There is no dispute here over whether such usage exists. I have offered my opinion. Kbrose (talk) 17:51, 6 February 2015 (UTC)
The OED labels some words as slang. "Email" is not labeled as slang. It's a perfectly acceptable usage. As for the comparison with "mails" we might also consider the usage of "phone calls" vs. "calls." We do say that we made or receive "calls" but it's just as irrelevant to deciding what is proper usage for email messages. Meters (talk) 18:05, 6 February 2015 (UTC)
Now there is a flaw. Phone call has a clear singular and plural form, and whether phone is used or not makes no difference. Some people even call the usage phone instead of telephone as slang. I have argued neither. This has nothing to do with slang or not, I don't classify emails as slang either, slang is something else. However, in my opinion, emails is simply not formal language but wrong. BTW, I checked OED online and upon quick inspection I couldn't confirm your assertion, perhaps that would take more research. Kbrose (talk) 18:15, 6 February 2015 (UTC)
In many sentences "3 messages" is just as good as "3 emails", and the former avoids the vehement argument as to whether "3 emails" is legitimate to most people in most places. So, why not use the former? Leegrc (talk) 18:43, 6 February 2015 (UTC)
I have no objection to such neutral and certainly correct form. Kbrose (talk) 18:52, 6 February 2015 (UTC)
Agreed. Barte (talk) 01:27, 7 February 2015 (UTC)

Outside of Business

I don't think this section makes much sense. The point seems to be that different people use email for different purposes. The one reference doesn't really have much to do with email.

The Letter J (talk) 14:36, 27 April 2015 (UTC)

I agree. Barte (talk) 14:45, 27 April 2015 (UTC)

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Were "at" and "@" both used?

The standard story states that Ray T sent the first mail between systems using an "@" in '71 - but years later RFC 733 in '77 - and RFC 805 as late as February '82 both have "host indicator" or "at indicator" defined as either at or @. (It's gone by RFC 821 in August '82). It would be interesting to know if this was ever used in practice. Snori (talk) 15:23, 9 July 2015 (UTC)

What separators were used outside of ARPAnet email?

ARPAnet, Internet and UUCP e-mail used @ or at, but what about other e-mail systems, e.g., ATS, cc:mail, CMS, CTSS, X.400 Shmuel (Seymour J.) Metz Username:Chatul (talk) 18:18, 9 July 2015 (UTC)

See Talk:Email_address#Non-Internet_email_addresses where I have put some relevant comments. It would be nice to have a specific Non-Internet email address formats page at some point. Snori (talk) 03:28, 25 November 2015 (UTC)


Hello everyone, I was doing some research on SMAP (Simple Mail Access Protocol) and was wondering why it is not included in the Types section. As I don't know much about it I'm not sure if I should write. famfop (talk) 09:05, 29 November 2015 (UTC)

I read the article to put y0our comment in context, and I not that none of the listed items is a type of e-mail. Rather, they are protocols for accessing the same type of e-mail. Shmuel (Seymour J.) Metz Username:Chatul (talk) 21:32, 29 November 2015 (UTC)

Email service provider

May be more links to wikipedia articles like this ones. Info here is good, but I like to read more. Its there, but I do not know how is named... Kyaws2861 (talk) 16:36, 16 April 2016 (UTC)

Request for comment: get that hyphen BACK

Sorry, but no way am I, a man with a First in English Language and Literature from none other than Cambridge many years ago when the language was spoken properly, going to drop the hyphen when writing "email". It is poor sloppy English and we shouldn't be doing things just because the uneducated masses are doing so. I know that in 2016, not everyone who does not use the hyphen is from uneducated pool of imbeciles this group but it is a sad fact that these simpletons have aspired to emulate them. I want to start a new discussion so as to avoid any conflict elsewhere (including that in which I have been involved since yesterday), with the hope of amending Manual of Style policy over "email", effectively making it e-mail as is prescribed by pedants. The best place to launch this campaign is here at this very talk. So, without further time-wasting let's get the ball rolling, I want to hear people's views and remember this is 2016, I am not worried about a decision that was made "a long time ago", that's the excuse allied war criminals use when questioned over how come they were never tried for their atrocities during World War II. Comments please! Yours faithfully. Henry Mazzer (talk) 17:43, 17 April 2016 (UTC)

  • Oppose - keep article at "email". Good argument Henry Mazzer, but it aint gotta be gooood Ennglish here! What most of us "uneducated" write should be good enuff. Dig? Reggie Wisecrack (talk) 17:52, 17 April 2016 (UTC)

Email existed in early 1970s

The assertion that the first email was sent in 1993 is wrong. The UK's Joint Academic Network (JANET) implemented email in the early 1980s. It permitted researchers and students to communicate between universities and other institutions on the and domains. The addresses were big-endian (vs. little-endian as used today). I regularly sent emails to and received emails from students at other universities in 1984. It was a true email system based on the definition given in this article.

The first email to be sent was by Ray Tomlinson in 1971.[15]

Please amend the article with appropriate links to indicate the use of email more than two decades earlier than the claimed year given in reference 2.

As I read the article, the claim in the lede is that 1993 marked the year the term "e-mail" was used. The year is never referenced again. And (below), that 1971 was the year the first ARPANET email was sent. And 1965, the first host-based email system. Barte (talk) 15:39, 19 January 2016 (UTC)

Updated article to remove the incorrect implication that email existed only since 1993 - it seems to be just the spelling/phrase/popularity they're referring to. Drpixie (talk) 02:20, 5 May 2016 (UTC)

email systems existed in the 1960s to deliver messages between different users on non-networked systems; with the invention of networks, email became closer, to what we think of, in the 1970s. Ray Tomlinson sent the first email message across a network. the article has this distinction, but it should be clearer on maintaining this distinction throughout, because the world at large will be able to adapt if the sources are clear. (talk) 00:05, 7 November 2016 (UTC)

6.5. Hyper Mail

Did anyone notice that the inventor of Hyper mail was never credited for his creation of the "hypertext, web page, search engine, browser paradigm?

This guy invented, designed and launched the web. Directing its cource, reminding mozaic that they had forgot the back button then authoring The Internet Bill of Rights. Not a joke. Http th e u bie . Com / ibrc .htm He asked the u.s. to prototype ithe browser in Geneva at Cern which had recently accuired a phone line to NSF-net.

Why the cloak of ignorance?

People dont use email any more. They Use Sheridan's Hyper Mail or hypermail.

That term was also hacled put of google ngram viewer about three or four years ago. It bagan in 1988.

Its not fair. Its history. And you wernt there.

Happy new year. (talk) 15:13, 1 January 2017 (UTC)

EMAIL != Email technology today

I will clarify it for everyone: "Electronic mail" communication existed already in the 1960s (long before Ayyadurai created his program). At that time the protocols and RFCs where definied, (e)mails where already sent. Our technology today that we call "Email" bases on this early definitions. But it has absolutely nothing to do with the work of Ayyadurai from 1978. He just created a computer program and called it "EMAIL" (pay attention to uppercase letters). He also copyrighted it, so he might indeed be the one, has created the short term "EMAIL". If we want to be very accurate, then yes, it can be said that he is the inventor of (a computer program called) "EMAIL".

BUT: What everyone calls and understands from the term "email" today has absolutely nothing to do with Ayyadurai's work. This are even two completely different things we speak about. Today, the term "email" describes the technologies that where invented by many people in the 1960s. Ayyadurai knows this and - typical for a patent troll - he tries to sue people, because they theoretically use his term for a technology which he has not invented (because we speak about the technology that we use today - the one that bases on the work from the 1960s, not the computer application of Ayyadurai).

Summary: Shiva Ayyadurai's work has nothing to do with the todays "email" technology. Ayyadurai did not invented the technology that we use today. He invented another "EMAIL" that nobody uses or knows today.

We don't have to discuss who invented the todays email technology. It was not Ayyadurai. When he speaks about "EMAIL", then he speaks about his own, personal, 40 years old computer program. I hope this finally ends the discussion and online publication sources pay more attention what they write and how clearly they describe of which "product" Shiva Ayyadurai is really the inventor. --Very hungry Yeti (talk) 13:47, 13 January 2017 (UTC)

There were RFCs in the 1960s (the first 26 of them), but I've not seen claims for email quite that early? Andy Dingley (talk) 14:05, 13 January 2017 (UTC)

EMAIL description

For a long time this read simply:

* 1979 – EMAIL system written by V.A. Shiva Ayyadurai at UMDNJ

...and frankly I think it should be reverted back to that, but ViperSnake151's already reverted me on this, and I have no wish to start a 'war'. The old wording simply gives its place in history, where the work was done, and by who - without dragging in the current controvery. Thoughts? Snori (talk) 01:48, 23 February 2017 (UTC)

Unfortunately, the controversy is relevant. It is merely disclaiming, in a brief sentence, that it is only an example of a host-based system that happened to be called "EMAIL", and that he did not invent the entire concept of E-mail, as a whole. ViperSnake151  Talk  02:20, 23 February 2017 (UTC)
So why delete the reference to UMDNJ? Like many of these old host-based systems, it was designed, built and only used, at the one institution - in contrast to SNDMSG, and the Unix mail. BTW I'm more than happy to see tons of detail about the controvery on the Shiva Ayyadurai, but not here, where we should be sticking to the history. Snori (talk) 02:56, 23 February 2017 (UTC)
Okay, I have no problem with mentioning the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, and that's been added back. ViperSnake151  Talk  06:21, 23 February 2017 (UTC)
How early is early? By the 1980's the "one-off" e-mail systems were overshadowed by commercial systems with multiple customers, to say nothing of ARPAnet. Shmuel (Seymour J.) Metz Username:Chatul (talk) 20:41, 27 February 2017 (UTC)

Anti-Gravity Freedom Machine

I think The Anti-Gravity Freedom Machine (AGFM) should be included as part of the history of Email on Wikipedia. The AGFM is a computer which uses a proprietary method for sending messages over a phone line. It can also be custom programmed to do any input/output task with it's own programming language. The AGFM was invented by Aaron Fechter, a Florida inventor who started Creative Engineering Incorporated, partial owner of ShowBiz Pizza, which was bought out by Chuck E. Cheese's and he also invented the popular Whac-A-Mole skill game. Research and Development on The AGFM started in 1985, but didn't end until 1996. A demonstration of the product from Men & Motors is here: I also contest for the pages currently under review or deleted, Anti-Gravity Freedom Machine, The Anti-Gravity Freedom Machine, and AGFM, to be redirects to this section of Email on Wikipedia. -Patrick Boots CEC (talk) 17:56, 10 April 2017 (UTC)

Your source is a YouTube video uploaded by you featuring a huckster that would put most Shopping Channel hosts to shame. --NeilN talk to me 17:38, 10 April 2017 (UTC)
User:Patrick Boots CEC Please declare your conflict of interest in your affiliation with Fechter or his companies. Robert McClenon (talk) 17:46, 10 April 2017 (UTC)
Here is The Original Episode.. and I will not disagree, Aaron is a huckster. He just hugs onto his products and doesn't know how to market them properly. Nowadays he is just running on Nostalgia Power. The AGFM did end up getting used commercially, at some chiropractic clinics in Colorado. I do not and will not work for Fechter or related businesses. I am an active member of the CEC Fan community and have an Unrelated Web Page tracking open Blockbuster Video stores. -Patrick Boots CEC (talk) 17:56, 10 April 2017 (UTC)
I was talking about the "interviewer", not Fechter. --NeilN talk to me 18:00, 10 April 2017 (UTC)
For him I wouldn't know. I've only ever seen the CES epiodes (Including this one)... -Patrick Boots CEC (talk) 18:03, 10 April 2017 (UTC)
The AGFM's past existence and your current enthusiasm are insufficient to place it in the history of email. Barte (talk) 18:39, 10 April 2017 (UTC)
And why is 'past existence' a problem? Email was launched in September 2001 and mentions "...Most e-mail systems today use the Internet..." before anything about it's history was added. There isn't a specific article about messages over the phone line (other than Email and Internet). -Patrick Boots CEC (talk) 20:49, 10 April 2017 (UTC)
I mean that the fact that the AGFM existed with some tenuous connection to electronic messaging does not on its own suffice to make it part of email history. You say it had "a proprietary method for sending messages over a phone line". Could be, but even if true, that's not enough to place it here. You need better references. Barte (talk) 23:19, 10 April 2017 (UTC)
Between replies I found this video uploaded by Aaron himself: ... It's more recent (Uploaded 04/02/17). Many fans take tours of his building and see it all, including show segments and food cooked with his experimental fuel, in about 3 hours I'm told - this link brings you to the point in the video that is about The AGFM. It's more technical than the promotional-like one they used on that show, so I hope that's good enough for you all. -Patrick Boots CEC (talk) 00:02, 11 April 2017 (UTC)
See WP:SELFPUB. --NeilN talk to me 00:26, 11 April 2017 (UTC)
Which is the same problem Aaron Fechter, largely written by you, used to have. @Robert McClenon: You may want to have a look and comment on my rather drastic pruning. --NeilN talk to me 01:00, 11 April 2017 (UTC)
User:NeilN - Much better. It no longer implies that Fechter invented the robotic bread slicer or proved Goldbach's conjecture. Robert McClenon (talk) 02:23, 11 April 2017 (UTC)
I believe this information comes from reliable sources. I don't think Aaron would lie about his own pseudo-invention like that..If you don't want self-published things by Aaron, A Bunch of news articles mention The AGFM, but don't go into mechanical detail like the video(s). It wasn't big enough of a success to have that happen. "Inventor Works To Rise From Ashes Of Orlando Blast" (Orlando Sentinel) , "The Man Who Made The Whac-A-Mole Has One More Chance" (Popular Mechanics) , and "Inventor Hopes To Beat The Odds Again" (Orlando Sentinel) are examples. There is no claims made about third parties about the AGFM in these articles or videos, other than the fact that Aaron believed that "the big competitors" in the market were The AGFM, Apple ("Mac") and IBM (and by extension, Microsoft and Windows), and that he does not pay a royalty to Bill Gates (Microsoft), which Aaron wrote out and mentioned that "everywhere he looked" people were. I do not believe that there is doubt to the authenticity of these claims. In the videos, Aaron himself is speaking and goes into great detail about the technical specifications of The AGFM. It even explains why it was only commercially successful at those chiropractic clinics in Colorado - he went skiing and worked on it in Vail. Additionally, Aaron registered trademarks for "Antigravity", "Smartfile", and "Smartlist" which are involved in the AGFM's production and use. And, Email will not be based primarily on these sources, because it contains much more about modern use and more about the history that is not related to The AGFM. -Patrick Boots CEC (talk) 01:29, 11 April 2017 (UTC)

───────────────────────── A total of three sentences in the first source reiterating it was a obscure failure: He spent $1.5 million developing an email machine that looks like the device used by court reporters. Dubbed the "Anti-Gravity Freedom Machine," it was promoted as the "easiest way to stay in touch." But it was late to the digital party and never took off. Adding it here serves just one purpose - satisfying the vanity of Fechter/yourself. --NeilN talk to me 01:41, 11 April 2017 (UTC)

User:Patrick Boots CEC - Maybe I have missed something, but I fail to see how a proprietary protocol that admittedly never took off is worth mentioning in the history. The idea that it is worth mentioning in the history strikes me as either some sort of spam for which the spammer is being paid or a hobby-horse. Since spammers are a more common problem in Wikipedia than hobby-horse riders, I have asked for a conflict of interest disclosure. You are stretching my obligation to assume good faith when you say that you are not spamming. However, assuming that you are not spamming and are only riding a hobby-horse, there still is no consensus that the AGFM should be included in the history. If you really think that it should be included, I suggest that a Request for Comments would be better than edit-warring. (You will probably lose on the RFC, but that is an honorable way to resolve hobby-horse campaigns.) Robert McClenon (talk) 02:19, 11 April 2017 (UTC)

Split off "History of email"?

I think it may be time to split off the detailed history into its own article. Even if the current discussion re AGFM goes nowhere, the history content is likely to grow little extra details. Each of these has to be defensible, but, from the point of view of an interested person wanting information on what "email" is, they probably degrade rather than improve the article. Thoughts? Snori (talk) 23:41, 19 April 2017 (UTC)

A well-written (less bullet points please), well-sourced History of email article would be fascinating. History of the World Wide Web may be a good model. --NeilN talk to me 23:51, 19 April 2017 (UTC)
Sure, that's standard summary style and doesn't seem contentious. The entire "origin" section would make a decent starting point, and could be painlessly split into a new stub. VQuakr (talk) 23:55, 19 April 2017 (UTC)
I'd love to see that, even if The AGFM doesn't end up being included. If anything comes out of this that benefits I'll be happy. -Patrick Boots CEC (talk) 01:03, 20 April 2017 (UTC)

I have now boldly done this. Please check out History of email. I suggest that we wait a week or so before trimming the content at this article down and putting a "Main" template in. Snori (talk) 08:04, 20 April 2017 (UTC)

Rather than waiting, I suggest promptly following the steps at WP:PROPERSPLIT. VQuakr (talk) 08:14, 20 April 2017 (UTC)
Done. Please tidy anything that needs tidying peeps, I'm away from here for a while. Snori (talk) 09:33, 20 April 2017 (UTC)

Request For Comments On 'The Anti-Gravity Freedom Machine'

WP:SNOW opposition against the proposed inclusionWinged Blades Godric 04:13, 22 April 2017 (UTC)
The following discussion is closed. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made on the appropriate discussion page. No further edits should be made to this discussion.

Hello, I'm requesting comments on whether The Anti-Gravity Freedom Machine (AGFM) shall be included in Email.See the prev. section of talk page for more details.Patrick Boots CEC (talk) 21:16, 18 April 2017 (UTC)
RFC re-formatted by Winged Blades Godric 04:54, 19 April 2017 (UTC) at 04:54, 19 April 2017 (UTC).


  • Include--Patrick Boots CEC (talk) 21:16, 18 April 2017 (UTC)
  • Comment-Pinging @NeilN, Robert McClenon, and Barte:.Winged Blades Godric 05:01, 19 April 2017 (UTC)
  • Oppose - based on the sources presented, any mention would be undue. VQuakr (talk) 05:17, 19 April 2017 (UTC)
  • Oppose To be included the product should have had extensive third party coverage. No sources have been provided with such coverage. All we have is a source reiterating it was a obscure failure: He spent $1.5 million developing an email machine that looks like the device used by court reporters. Dubbed the "Anti-Gravity Freedom Machine," it was promoted as the "easiest way to stay in touch." But it was late to the digital party and never took off. --NeilN talk to me 05:09, 19 April 2017 (UTC)
  • Oppose - sources presented don't establish notability or relevance to the topic of email. CapitalSasha ~ talk 06:26, 19 April 2017 (UTC)
  • Oppose There is no significant third-party coverage to establish notability. The source we have indicate that it was just an obscure failure.--Kostas20142 (talk) 09:56, 19 April 2017 (UTC)
  • Oppose No credible sources connecting this to the history of email. At best, the invention appears to be a remote outlier. Barte (talk) 14:46, 19 April 2017 (UTC)
  • Oppose - The proponent should read drop the stick. That horse is already dead. If the proponent is being honest and isn't being paid to promote Fechter, he isn't being paid enough. Robert McClenon (talk) 15:13, 19 April 2017 (UTC)
  • Oppose - I'm pleased to have (finally) heard about this device, but I don't see it belonging here at the moment. Happy to see it have an article of it's own though. Our history items in this article really all lead up to the widespread adoption of email - but (all verifiable information about this) is after that. If someone wants to start a "Commercialization efforts" section with this and AOL "You have Mail" etc etc then maybe OK - but on it's own this isn't worthy of inclusion. Snori (talk) 21:30, 19 April 2017 (UTC)
  • Oppose - Google is only showing me a microscopic few hundred hits with zero book mentions, and while I believe the Orlando Sentinel and Gizmodo are decent RS, I think there's just not enough coverage WP:WEIGHT for this one to go in. Markbassett (talk) 00:20, 21 April 2017 (UTC)

Detailed discussion

The AGFM is a computer console which used the telephone line to send messages and transmit data. The AGFM was invented by Aaron Fechter, who also made Whac-A-Mole and the animatronics at ShowBiz Pizza Place (The Rock-afire Explosion). The AGFM was first developed in 1985 and used internally at Creative Engineering (CEI -- Aaron Fechter's Company) for 10 years before being marketed in 1996 at The Consumer Electronics Show (CES). The AGFM is said to have it's own designed modem algorithms and programming language for potentional application development. A demonstration of The AGFM at CES 1996 from Men & Motors can be found here: .. and a technical description from Aaron himself can be found here: (Due to the popularity of The Rock-afire Explosion, fans sometimes take tours of the CEI building. Many YouTube videos of these tours have been released.) I believe The AGFM should be included in Email because of it's date of development (1985) and it's similarity to other messaging systems of the time. (I am not being paid by CEI or any affiliated company. I am just a fan of the concept and am trying to improve Wikipedia on the history of CEI's products.) -Patrick Boots CEC (talk) 21:16, 18 April 2017 (UTC)

  • This article doesn't even include the Amstrad emailer, which was a similar device to the AGFM and with a far greater market and sourced coverage. There is possibly a case for including such "dedicated terminal" devices as a group (an un-internet dead-end) or, if they're individually notable like the Amstrad, being mentioned.
Other than as a footnote in his individual bio, I can't see any justification for describing the AGFM in other articles. Andy Dingley (talk) 15:51, 19 April 2017 (UTC)
That would be because A large part of Aaron's article was removed on the basis of being self-sourced or primary sourced - so the article basically ends at 1979. It formerly included everything up until present day - which included pieces on The AGFM. I'd love to see a part of Email (Or an individual article) on non-internet messaging terminals, like that Amstrad. It's not like The AGFM didn't sell - it just didn't sell well. New found statistics show that more locations used The AGFM than previously known in a network. They were all connected to CEI for support updates and some were connected together for their shows. -Patrick Boots CEC (talk) 19:46, 19 April 2017 (UTC)
"It's not like The AGFM didn't sell"
So how did it sell? And can you source this? Andy Dingley (talk) 20:03, 19 April 2017 (UTC)
The AGFM was sold with Rock-Afire and New Rock-Afire show systems throughout the 90s and early 2000s, which is referenced in The CEI 20th Anniversary Promo Kit. Some of these FECs still have these systems in use. The AGFM also controlled Point-Of-Sale Systems at Looney Bird's, another FEC opened by CEI that had a small handful of locations. As a messenger, The AGFM was used in some dental offices and chiropractic clinics in Colorado as well as internally at CEI and with SPT. -Patrick Boots CEC (talk) 21:53, 19 April 2017 (UTC)
@Patrick Boots CEC: you link to Youtube and a promo kit above. Those are fairly useless as sources: we care very little here about what a subject (or its creator) has to say about itself. What sources are available that discuss this subject in detail, but are intellectually independent of the subject? VQuakr (talk) 22:43, 19 April 2017 (UTC)
"Experimental Gases, Danger, And The Rock-afire Explosion" (Hackaday) and Aaron himself mention that parts of The AGFM are loosely based on the Rockwell 6502. It seems to be all specialized mostly from what I understand though. The best information comes from Aaron .. If you want more than what's online, you'll have to ask him or take a tour of CEI. There is a lot of filmed tours online and one shows Aaron talking in depth about The AGFM. (It's linked above.) I like the idea of A "Commercialization Efforts" section (User:Snori) in Email to include The AGFM and other failed messaging products in. -Patrick Boots CEC (talk) 23:19, 19 April 2017 (UTC)
Assuming you are going best-first by linked to that blog in response to my query, I'll echo Robert McClenon's suggestion above that you quit beating this dead horse. Your comment above, "the best information comes from Aaron" summarizes quite well why your suggestion is not going to getting any traction. At all. VQuakr (talk) 23:38, 19 April 2017 (UTC)

The discussion above is closed. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made on the appropriate discussion page. No further edits should be made to this discussion.

Contents versus envelope

Should there be a discussion of the terms content and envelope in Internet e-mail, with a statement that contents includes both header and body? Shmuel (Seymour J.) Metz Username:Chatul (talk) 20:48, 24 April 2017 (UTC)

One or more references would be welcome here to make the case. Barte (talk) 20:53, 24 April 2017 (UTC)
  • "Mail Objects". Simple Mail Transfer Protocol. IETF. sec. 2.3.1. doi:10.17487/RFC5321. RFC 5321. SMTP transports a mail object. A mail object contains an envelope and content. More than one of |sectionurl= and |section-url= specified (help)
  • "Mail Objects". Simple Mail Transfer Protocol. IETF. sec. 2.3.1. doi:10.17487/RFC5321. RFC 5321. The SMTP content is sent in the SMTP DATA protocol unit and has two parts: the header section and the body. If the content conforms to other contemporary standards, the header section consists of a collection of header fields, each consisting of a header name, a colon, and data, structured as in the message format specification More than one of |sectionurl= and |section-url= specified (help) Shmuel (Seymour J.) Metz Username:Chatul (talk) 21:55, 25 April 2017 (UTC)
Your entry originally read: Internet email messages consist of two major sections, the message header and the message body, collectively known as content. I had assumed that the message header was part of the envelope. If I was mistaken, apologies. In any case, the paragraph in question has no references whatsoever. So these might be good additions. Barte (talk) 23:51, 25 April 2017 (UTC)

Bang-style addressing

I remember that in the very early days of email, before or maybe during the time when became standard, at least some email was sent using what was called "bang" addressing. I remember doing this a few times myself. A "bang" address looked something like recipient!computername1!computername2!computername3! and so forth; you had to know the whole transmission chain into order to address your email successfully. The "bang" name came from people saying "bang" to pronounce the exclamation point when communicating a transmission chain verbally. This led to a joke that a message could be addressed to I!yourgirlfriend. Yes, it was a male-dominated thing at the time.

I have no idea how to research this or where information about it could be found, but if someone could pull something together on it, it would make an interesting and possibly entertaining paragraph about the early history of email.

Poihths (talk) 17:09, 19 July 2017 (UTC)

Bang paths were too awkward to be of much use for email - their problem was that they represented a physical route from one machine to another, so they changed depending not only on which machine was the target, but where you were starting from too. For that reason a "half bang path" was usually the thing printed on a business card. This started from some clearly visible place (big university, big company) and they showed the bang path beyond that to your particular destination. When regularly emailing someone, you might try to find a shorter, more reliable or faster bang path.
They were used more with uucp than email in general (other email methods were available, even then) and were probably most used within netnews / Usenet. Andy Dingley (talk) 17:40, 19 July 2017 (UTC)

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Trace header fields for detecting spoofing

Should Email#Email spoofing mention the trace header fields, e.g., Received, or is that TMI? Shmuel (Seymour J.) Metz Username:Chatul (talk) 17:48, 21 December 2017 (UTC)

Issue: Backup, Archiving and Interoperability of Email software

I would suggest adding under "Issues" the problem of Backup and Archiving of emails, especially when different email software is used and restoring emails from other software is needed. Presently, software systems all have their own proprietary formatting and trying to restore from a different system is very difficult. Definitely an issue with Email.

Tony (talk) 05:27, 5 February 2018 (UTC)

Issue: Backup, Archiving and Interoperability of Email software

I would suggest adding under "Issues" the problem of Backup and Archiving of emails, especially when different email software is used and restoring emails from other software is needed. Presently, software systems all have their own proprietary formatting and trying to restore from a different system is very difficult. Definitely an issue with Email.

Tony (talk) 05:27, 5 February 2018 (UTC)

! and @

  • ucbvax!fair
  • (talk) 07:59, 3 March 2018 (UTC)
  1. ^ a b Weber, Larry. The Boy Who Invented Email -- History of Email (Part 1) Huffington Post, 08/29/2014.
  2. ^ a b Pexton, P.B. Reader Meter: Who really invented e-mail? Washington Post, 02/24/2012
  3. ^ Van Vleck, Tom (February 2001 & following). "The History of Electronic Mail". Check date values in: |date= (help)
  4. ^ Nanos, Janelle (June 2012). "Return to Sender". Boston Magazine.
  5. ^ Nightingale, Deborah J. The Five Myths About Email's History and the "Controversy" Fabricated by Industry Insiders to Hijack the Invention of Email. HuffPo Posted 09.02.2014
  6. ^ a b Masnick, Mike (September 2, 2014). "Why Is Huffington Post Running A Multi-Part Series To Promote The Lies Of A Guy Who Pretended To Invent Email?". Techdirt.
  7. ^ Haigh, Thomas. "Did V.A. Shiva Ayyadurai Invent Email? A Computer Historian Responds". Special Interest Group: Computers, Information and Society. SIGCIS.
  8. ^ Masnick, Mike (September 3, 2014). "Huffington Post Doubles Down, Has MIT Professor Spread Blatant Falsehoods About Creation Of Email". Techdirt.
  9. ^ Friedrich-Schiller-Universitaet Jena. [ "Early history of genetics revised: New light shed on 'rediscovery' of Mendel's laws of heredity."] ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 3 May 2011.
  10. ^ Masnick, Mike (September 4, 2014). "Huffington Post Finally Responds, Stands By Its Completely Bogus, Totally Debunked 'History Of Email' Series". Techdirt.
  11. ^ a b Hiltzig, Michael (September 4, 2014). "A discredited old yarn resurfaces about who 'invented' email". Los Angeles Times.
  12. ^ Masnick, Mike (September 5, 2014). "Huffington Post And The View From Bogustan: Standing Behind Blatantly False Claims Isn't Journalism". Techdirt.
  13. ^ Garling, Caleb. "Who Invented Email? Just Ask … Noam Chomsky". Retrieved 16 June 2012.
  14. ^ Masnick, Mike (2014-09-08). "Huffington Post Finally Removes Most Articles About Fake Email Inventor; Meanwhile, Ayyadurai Threatens To Sue His Critics". Techdirt. Retrieved 8 September 2014.
  15. ^