[Imap-protocol] [noob] select & unseen?

Mark Crispin mrc+imap at panda.com
Sun Nov 6 17:11:51 PST 2011

On Mon, 7 Nov 2011, David Harris wrote:

> Simple commonsense dictates that the

> intention of the RFC must be that [UNSEEN] is mandatory *if the

> mailbox contains any unread messages*, but that it *must* in fact be

> *omitted* otherwise.

David is correct; a little bit of common sense goes a long way. That seems
to be lacking in certain individuals who, given a choice between a common
sense answer and an absurd answer, invariably choose the absurd.

RFC 3501 is more than double the size that it needs to be because of
individuals that demand that their brains not be taxed to discriminate
between the common sense and the absurd. As I pointed out at the time, it
is impossible for any document to be immune to the the imagination of
individuals who are determined to be absurd. Even if you double its size
again with more pedantic text, that immunity will remain illusive.

It is also helpful to understand that evolutionary processes, by their
nature, result in design imperfections that would not exist in a one-shot
creation. Evolutionary change that comes about through an urgent "no time
to do it right just do it" demand especially tends to create a wart.

Such was the UNSEEN response. RFC 4731 is a far superior mechanism
(although it has its own warts). I would be very surprised if any client
uses the UNSEEN response (its intended purpose was to position the view at
the first unread message). The client that used it has to fetch the flags
for all messages anyway for other purposes, so it doesn't need it any

-- Mark --

Democracy is two wolves and a sheep deciding what to eat for lunch.
Liberty is a well-armed sheep contesting the vote.

More information about the Imap-protocol mailing list