A proposal to change the behavior of threading w.r.t. forwarded messages

Jonathan Protzenko jonathan.protzenko at gmail.com
Tue Aug 10 00:23:44 UTC 2010

 Dear tb-planning fellows,

Some discussion has been taking place recently on bug 583587
<https://bugzilla.mozilla.org/show_bug.cgi?id=583587> regarding the
threading of forwarded messages.

The current behavior is that forwarded messages start up a new thread,
that is to say, they do not include any References: headers to the
original message. While this behavior has been the de facto standard for
years, I believe it might be worthwhile to change its semantics
slightly. It is often desirable to thread the forwarded message and the
original message together.

Possible justifications include:
- the ability, with a threaded message list, and a unified inbox that
also searches in the "sent" folders, to regroup the whole thread together
- better indexing (gloda would then be able to relate these messages
- and, as you probably guessed already, parity with gmail, especially
when it comes to the conversation view.

I believe this feature will turn out to be even more worthwhile as we
move towards new visualizations, e.g. the upcoming Thunderbird Air or,
again, any form of conversation view. Seeing the forwarded messages and
the subsequent messages feels, imho, quite natural.

Privacy concerns prevent us from including the whole chain of
references. Rather, what is suggested is only inserting the Message-Id
of the original message into the forwarded message's References: header.

One other suggestion from Andrew Sutherland is adding an extra
X-Forwarded-Message-Id header, so that Gloda can, in the future,
understand better the relationship between the different batches of
messages, and possibly improve its metadata or its internal
representation of such conversations.

So far, I have been unsuccessful at finding any RFC on this topic, but I
believe there might be some.

I'd like very much to hear about your thoughts, comments, and insights
on this proposal.


jonathan (:protz)

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