Polite international e-mail

Subject: Polite international e-mail
From: Kevin McLauchlan <KMcLauchlan -at- chrysalis-its -dot- com>
To: TECHWR-L <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 18 Feb 2000 10:30:18 -0500

G'day, O knowledgeable ones.

I understand -- and support, I guess -- turning off
RTF and HTML when posting messages to mailing lists
and newsgroups. Some people don't have/use readers
that can interpret them properly, or have limited
bandwidth available.

However, many of the people in international lists
like this one have personal names, physical addresses
and other text associated with them, that rightly
contain accented characters.

Without RTF and HTML, what is a common format or
standard that can be invoked -- a sort of least-
common-denominator, I guess -- that will let most
people send and receive properly accented text?

Does "René Deschênes" spell his name "Rene", or is
it "René", and he just gave up on the accented "e"
when using e-mail?
And, how about his family name? Is there supposed to
be a circumflex over the middle "e"?
I don't know. I just saw "?" question marks where
several characters were supposed to be.

I'd like to show people the simple courtesy of
spelling their names the way their mommy and daddy
taught 'em, but I don't want to be impolite to those
who haven't got high-end mail-readers (unless they're
just Luddites, in which case... screw 'em... :-).

What do you non-American folks do when corresponding
across borders among yourselves. What does anybody
do when discussing translations? Do you all keep
reminding yourselves to switch RTF and/or HTML on
and off? Or ...

Is there some MIME-type or other encoding that I've
overlooked, that would be satisfactory for 90% of
the people?
Is Unicode any kind of option with respect to e-mail?

Thanks for any insights and unaccented suggestions.


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