[linux-elitists] Best way to do machine-human mail conversation?

Jon Carnes jonc@nc.rr.com
Tue Feb 10 06:09:15 PST 2004

On Tue, 2004-02-10 at 01:55, Joakim Ziegler wrote:
> So, I have this ticket tracking system where you can input tickets using
> an HTML form, or through mail. It generally assigns to a random person
> in the group corresponding to the category the ticket has (the category
> is chosen either on the web form, or as a result of the To: address in
> the mail).
> When someone uses the web interface to send an answer and close the
> ticket, a mail is sent to the email address provided, and the From: is
> set to the email address corresponding to the category, so if the client
> responds to the mail, it enters as a new ticket with the same category.
> However, people aren't happy with this, they want the new ticket to be
> assigned not just to the same category/group as the old one, but also to
> the same user in the system.
> To accomplish this, I'm considering a few different approaches:
> 1) Use a ticket number in the subject, and parse the subject coming
> back. This seems pretty common, but it makes the subject a bit ugly, in
> my opinion.
> 2) Use exim-style (or whatever you call them) aliases to the category
> email address as the from, so I can append the ticket number, like
> sales-3245@, which will enter into the sales category, as a followup to
> ticket 3245.
> 3) Use some sort of header that will be preserved in the response in
> common mailers. This is arguably the most elegant, but does such a beast
> exist? Could I use a Message-ID header and assume that most common
> mailers would give me that Message-ID back in the In-Reply-To header?
> Opinions on the options? Pitfalls and whatnot I should be aware of when
> doing this sort of thing?

I've done this at a few clients and the easiest way is to use a ticket
number in the subject. This allows folks to respond to a standard email
address with that ticket number and then it gets assigned properly.

The alias solution is sort of elegant, but you will run into situations
were folks want to append to the problem ticket but don't respond using
the sent email.  People do seem to understand the *magic* of having the
ticket number in the subject...

Good Luck - Jon Carnes

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