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

Karsten M. Self kmself@ix.netcom.com
Tue Feb 10 15:57:27 PST 2004

on Tue, Feb 10, 2004 at 12:55:30AM -0600, Joakim Ziegler (joakim@avmaria.com) 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?

For all that I dump all over TMDA's broken-by-design challenge-response
features, its tagged message delivery agent (should acronymize
familiarly) functionality may be precisely what you're looking for.  Or

What you'd do here is to generate a unique address for each ticket, but
chain addresses such that address foo-4 inherits the user attribute of
foo-1.  Note that foo-4 need not sequentially follow foo-1, though it's
monotonically greater.

Problem, clearly, is that mail sent to the wrong address (will happen)
won't be properly processed.

Otherwise, I'd do the subject hack.


Karsten M. Self <kmself@ix.netcom.com>        http://kmself.home.netcom.com/
 What Part of "Gestalt" don't you understand?
    > What other group has its predominant slur based on honest labor?
    - Rick Moen
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