Re: Mail addresses as URLs (David C. Martin)
Message-id: <9305121750.AA00781@knowman.lib.ucsf.EDU>
From: (David C. Martin)
Organization: UCSF Center for Knowledge Management
Email: or uunet!dcmartin
Phone: 415/476-6111
Fax: 415/476-4653
Cc: Marc VanHeyningen <>,
In-reply-to: Your message of Tue, 11 May 93 22:16:00 +0100
Subject: Re: Mail addresses as URLs 
Date: Wed, 12 May 93 10:49:42 MDT

-------- writes:

> Presumably this is going to be specific to address formats of the
> general form we all know and love, "smtp://"
> seems to me the most consistent and unambiguous method for specifying
> my mail address.  I think calling something "mail" or "mailto" is
> rather unclear, since the number of different ways to specify mail
> routing and the like is greater than one.  We already have silly
> ambiguity with "file:" being both local file reference and FTP; let's
> not do that again with mail.

On the contrary (as I argued before), rfc-822 mail addresses are
independent of routing!  E.g. at our site all outgoing mail from a
workstation is first moved onto the central mail server machine which
takes care of delivery using whatever method it sees fit.  In fact
most of our users won't even recognize "smtp" as the name of a mail
delivery protocol.

In general different sites may have different mechanisms to deliver
mail, but the same mail address works for all (ideally, anyway).

Also note thatthe "host" part of a mail address needn't be the name
of a real host -- it is just a mail domain.  The use of
"smtp://host/user" smells too much of direct delivery at a particular
host, while in fact the proper way to send mail is to hand it to a
local agent that knows what's right...

--Guido van Rossum, CWI, Amsterdam <>