ASCII Art Used in Chain Mail Online

asciichainletter

Above you can see an example of chain letter (chain mail) which uses ASCII art to illustrate and attract attention to it. I’ve seen others which use ASCII art angels and a large face with open arms on either side.

I’m not a fan of chain mail, even those which appear to be nice on the surface. How well meaning can they be when they are still based on telling people what they will or will not get if they do or do not send the chain letter to someone else. Often a lot of other people. Don’t consider yourself expected to send this to anyone.

The Little Reader

littlereader

I found this on a blog today. I lost track of which one. I was linking to them for Scoop.it.

My own litle people came in the mail this week. I was disappointed because one already has a broken arm, before it has even come out of the packaging. The eBay seller must have shipped it to me this way. Another of the little people faces backwards and I’m hoping there isn’t another broken arm, just held in place by the plastic package. They come in a pack of six, not great if one third are broken.

How to Make ASCII – By Flump (hjw)


How to Make ASCII
Last updated: June 4, 1998
Getting Started

If you want to make ascii art the first thing you should know is that you don't need a special program, or special skills to make it with. All you need is somewhere to type text into - your e-mail program, notepad, wordpad, that sort of thing - and an idea of what you want to draw. There are no secrets or rules other than the following:

1.) Use a non-proportional or fixed width font. Click HERE for a page on this site that will tell you what they are, or ask me for the text version of the page via e-mail.

2.) Don't use tabs!! Always, but always use the space bar (or your cursor keys/mouse if the program you're typing in supports that) for empty spaces. The reason for this is that different computers and programs interperet the size of a tab space differently, so although what you see on your screen looks fine, on someone else's your pic may look all split up.

3.) Only use the keyboard characters on an American standard keyboard. That means all the letters, numbers and punctuation that you can see printed on the keyboard keys. You can use the shift key, but don't use the alt key to make characters. The reason for this is similar to that for not using tabs - different computers interperet alternative characters in different ways. The idea behind ascii is that all computers can read it because it's made up of characters that all computers will recognise.

4.) Don't leave empty spaces at the end of each line. Make sure every line that you type ends on the last character, and not a few spaces after it. This can cause problems on other systems, with line wrapping and so on.

Your First Ascii

The best way to make a start is to take someone else's picture and see if you can copy it. That way you get a feel for how you can use different characters. We'll start easy. Try copying these shapes, which only use the characters:

/ | _
___ ___
| | / /
|___| /__ ___/

Easy huh? Now try making the same shapes again using the characters:

- " . , ` : > < This is what I came up with: .---. . .--. : : .' `. < >
"---" "---" `--'

Bit more tricky, and it doesn't look as neat, but some of these characters, and knowing how you can use them can come in very handy at times, which we'll see later. Have a go at copying these, just for practice. Change them if you like:

_ _ __ _ _ .^._ __
| |_| |_.' `._| |_| | / / / / / / |
| _ _ _ _ | / / / / .' `. /_____V / /
|_| |_| `.__.' |_| |_| / / / / / < > |[]_[]|
/ / / / / `. .' | |+| | / /
/ `"""""' _

Curves

It's handy to know where the characters 'sit' on each line. Are they at the top, in the middle or on the bottom of the line? A couple of ascii characters vary in their position from computer to computer, but mostly they all sit in the same place. Have a go yourself on your keyboard. Here are some examples.

Top of line: " ` '
Top or middle of line: ^ * ~ =
Middle of line: - +
Bottom of line: _ . ,

You can use all these characters on one line to make a pattern, like these:

_.,-=~+"^'`*`'^"+~=-,._.,-=~+"^'`*`'^"+~=-,._.,-=~+"^'`*`'^"+~=-,._

"^`'*-=~+,._.,+~=-*'`^"^`'*-=~+,._.,+~=-*'`^"^`'*-=~+,._.,+~=-*'`^"

Now try making a simple sig with a decorative border, using all the characters we've met so far. This is what I came up with:

_________________________
..,,++~~--==**''``^^"" Hayley Jane wakenshaw ""^^``''**==--~~++,,..
/| flump@quadrant.xs4all.nl /|
< : > Flump's Fantastic Ascii Collection < : >
|/ "Daddy.. why doesn't the magnet pick up your floppy disks?..." |/
""^^''``**--==~~++,,.._________________________..,,++~~==--**``''^^""

Using The Other Characters

The other ascii characters fall into three categories. Either they're the full height of the line or they're half height. Capitals and numbers are always full height. Compare them to some of the others - which are half height, and which are full height? Some examples:

Full height: A 7 % @ ! # ) ; & $ ] } | / > l t f k h d ?
Half height: a o v z

And then there's the 3rd sort. The characters that look like half height, but sit a little lower on the line, like they would in handwriting. These are: j g y p q

And all together they can make a slight curve, just like the others:

pqyjgacoevA8!@)lf$%;$fl(@!8AveocagjypqacoevA8!@)lf$%;$fl(@!8Aveoc

Lines and Diagonals

There are three basic lines to any picture - straight (either horizontally, or vertically), diagonal, and the third is the curve, which includes circles. We'll look at straight and diagonal lines first. Horizontal and vertical lines are simple in ascii - here are some examples:

Horizontal: 8888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888
""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""
----------------------------------------------------------
__________________________________________________________
..........................................................

Vertical: | 8 : ! 1 I
| 8 : ! 1 I
| 8 : ! 1 I
| 8 : ! 1 I
| 8 : ! 1 I
| 8 : ! 1 I

Diagonals are a bit more tricky. You can make simple ones using the / and keys. Diagonals with other gradients need a technique similar to that used to make slight curves. Experiment yourself to see how you can make different angles. Here are some examples to start you off:

/ .' _,-' __
/ .' _,-' __..--''
/ .' _,-' __..''
/ .' _,-' __..--''
/ .' _,-' __..--''
/ .' _,-' __..--'' ____....----"""
/ .' _,-' __..--'' ____....----""""
/ .' ,-' __..--'' ____....----""""

Circles

By now we've looked at the basic characters, character height, slight curves, lines, and slopes. The last thing to look at is what many people who make ascii have trouble with: circles. You're half way there already, though, because ascii circles are basically a mix of vertical and horizontal lines, slopes or diagonals, and curves. After a little practice, you'll get a feel for making different sized circles - I have a basic set of circles in a file that I refer to when I need a circular or rounded shape in an ascii pic, so now I can make them easily in all sorts of sizes. Start making small circles - how many ways can you think of to make a circle in under 5 lines? The bigger the circle the more rounded it can be, but try making circles of different sizes and see what you come up with. These are mine:

__
_ /"" /
1 line: O () 2 lines: (_) __/ 3 lines: __/

____
___ .-''-. .' `.
4 lines: / 5 lines: / 6 lines: /
| | | | | |
___/ / /
`-..-' `.____.'

_.-""""-._
9 lines: .' `.
/
| |
| |
| |
/
`._ _.'
`-....-'

That's the basic characters, and what you can do with them. Play with them, see what patterns and ascii scribbles you can make. Have a go at taking one of my pics, or another ascii pic from some of the excellent sites around, and copy it. Then change it! See how you can use the characters to make the picture look different. Can you make the expression on a face change? Can you make an ascii person fatter, thinner, taller, shorter? Give Barney the dinosaur a moustache, or, much better, multiple wounds? :-) This is how I learned. Many of my first efforts were absolutely dreadful. So I looked at how someone else had made the same sort of picture and learned from it. And I still do - probably why people often say my style is very similar to Joan Stark's!

To get you started, cut and paste this head into wherever you want to draw your ascii, and give it a face. Add a hat or a body. Or make the hair shorter or longer. Make it a clown or a devil!

,-.,~~.
,'///||`.
///(((||))).
((( )))
_))) |(_
._// /_.
`-'_/`-._.-'-`-'
' /=._.=/ hjw

Moving Forward

That's all the boring stuff about technique over. :-) What's coming up is a step by step demo of how I go about turning a picture into ascii.

When you first start, it's always a good idea to try to draw something simple. Gromit the dog is made up of very simple shapes - just ovals and circles, so I'll use him as an example.

To start a picture, I look for the simplest or most prominent feature of whatever I'm trying to draw. In Gromit's case, I reckon it's his nose. :-) I'll try the 2 line circle and see where that takes me. After I've drawn his nose I'll see if I can draw the shape of his head around it:

___
/
| |
/ _
| (_) |
/
`---'

Hmm.. don't like that - the top of his head isn't tall enough, but if I make it any longer it looks too narrow. If I make it wider, then the nose looks too small....

____
/
| |
| |
/ _
| (_) |
/
`----'

.... and to put the nose in the center, I'll have to make it yet another character wider.......

_____
/
| |
| |
/ _
| (_) |
/
`-----'

.. and though it looks like it would make a nice dog, it's not Gromit, really is it? So I'll make his nose a bit bigger; 3 lines this time, and try the face shape again.

____
." ".
/
| |
| |
/ __
| / |
| __/ |
/
`.____.'

Yep - that's more like it. :-) Next I usually try to fit the eyes in.

____
." ".
/ __ __
|/()/()|
|__/__/|
/ __
| / |
| __/ |
/
`.____.'

Nope. Don't like those. Normally I like to make eyes complete circles, or just use a couple of characters like "9 9" or "e e".But those would be too small. And these eyes are too big and don't look round enough. I'll try two lines instead.

____
." ".
/
| _ _ |
| (O)(O) |
/ __
| / |
| __/ |
/
`.____.'

Much better.Now to add the ears.

.-""-. .-""-.
/ -.`. ____ .' _
.' `" "' ,' /
`-' / `-'
| _ _ |
| (O)(O) |
/ __
| / |
| __/ |
/
`.____.' hjw

There are gaps left that look untidy though. This is where I couldn't get the characters to fit together. Often you can solve this by using a letter. This is about the only time I use letters and numbers apart from doing small details like eyes. I'll mess around with my favourite 'connecting' characters like: "j" "v" "V" "X" "x" "7" "i" "y" "Y". I'll use the "Y" I think, because it has the right angles in the right places to connect the ears to the head. :-)

.-""-. .-""-.
/ -.`. ____ .' _
.' `" "' ,' /
`-' Y Y `-'
| _ _ |
| (O)(O) |
/ __
| / |
| __/ |
/
`.____.' hjw

Last stage is to add the little details, and tidy up any messy or unclear bits. I don't like that left ear at the minute, so I'll, change that. But in the final version that goes on the web site I might decide to change it back. ;-) Have a last check to make sure he actually looks like the picture I've been working on, ask Robbie my fiance if he can tell what it is. If the Robbie test succeeds, then I hit the save button, and start looking for something else to draw. :-)

.-""-. .-""-.
/ ,.`. ____ .' _
/ `" "' ,' /
`-' Y Y `-'
| _ _ |
| (O)(O) |
/ __
| /# |
| __/ |
/
`.____.'
--" "-- hjw

These are only the basics. There are other techniques such as shading, making solid style ascii, anti-aliasing (making solid style ascii look smoother). But I don't use those much so I'm not qualified to explain them. But this info should be enough to get you started. :-)

If all else fails, you can always have a look at some of the other ascii art tutorials and hints available. There are about 7 that I know of, but the following three are the ones that I found useful and not too technical:

Daniel Au's
Rowan Crawford's
Joan Stark's


Choosing the Correct Font

I get loads and loads of mails from people saying they love ascii art and they want to cut and paste it, but when they do it ends up looking nothing like it does in their browser. Or they visit the site with their browser and the art looks totally skewed even on the web site itself.

They get this:

,-.
,--' ~.).
,' `.
; (((__ __)))
; ( (#) ( (#)
| _/____/|
," ,-' `__".
( ( ._ ____`.)--._ _
`._ `-.`-' (`-' _ `-. _,-' `-/`.
,') `.`._)) ,' `. `. ,',' ;
.' . `--' / ). `. ;
; `- / ' ) ;
') ,'
,' ;
`~~~' ,'
`. _,'
hjw `. ,--'
`-._________,--'
When what it should look like is this:

,-.
,--' ~.).
,' `.
; (((__ __)))
; ( (#) ( (#)
| _/____/|
," ,-' `__".
( ( ._ ____`.)--._ _
`._ `-.`-' (`-' _ `-. _,-' `-/`.
,') `.`._)) ,' `. `. ,',' ;
.' . `--' / ). `. ;
; `- / ' ) ;
') ,'
,' ;
`~~~' ,'
`. _,'
hjw `. ,--'
`-._________,--'

If this is your problem then the solution is very simple, I promise. ;-) The secret of ascii is that it is made and viewed in a certain sort of font. If you're on AOL then you'll have got lots of lovely software from them. Unfortunately all that lovely software seems to entirely ignore the sort of font you need for ascii art. You don't have to be on AOL to have this problem - it may just be the way you've configured whichever proram you're trying to view the ascii in, or cut and paste it to or whatever. Whichever program you're having the problem with the solution is roughly the same. Many programmes use what we call a proportional font. This means that the letters it produces have different widths just like handwriting does, to make it look neat. The trouble is that all those different widths screw up ascii. Ascii needs a non-proportional (sometimes called fixed width ) font. In this sort of font all the letters are the same width. Have a look at the following examples:

Example output with both a proportional and non-proportional font

Non-proportional font Proportional font
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0
| | | | | | | | | |
m m m m m m m m m m
% $ ! * L p . 0 @ +
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0
| | | | | | | | | |
m m m m m m m m m m
% $ ! * L p . 0 @ +

To see if the program you're using has the right sort of font, cut and paste the following two lines into it:

1wwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww|
2iiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii|

If you have the right font they will be the same length as each other. If you have the wrong font, they'll be different lengths. Mess around with the fonts you have and find out which ones are the right sort for ascii, and then make a note of them.

If your friends use the same programs as you, and you want to mail them some ascii, then you might want to put a message at the start of the mail saying something like: "View this mail in one of the following fonts:....." and list the fonts you found to work. One non-proportional font that most PC's have is called "courier" or "courier new", so you can try this one first if you have it. :-)

If this doesn't solve your problem, then your best bet is to make a post to the alt.ascii-art newsgroup asking for help. There are people there who are far more technically minded than me and will be far more likely to come up with an answer to your problem! :-)

7 Reasons Why HTML Email is Evil

Original page from George Dillon.

7 reasons why HTML e-mail is EVIL!!!

This page summarises a longer article, now called HTML email is STILL evil!!!

INTRODUCTION

I originally wrote this article in 2000 for friends, the tongue-in-cheek title inspired by objections to HTML mail expressed in the evolt.org web designer’s list. By 2002 some big sites had linked to it, traffic (and abusive responses) to the page had increased and the internet had changed significantly, so I decided to update it.

The internet is now cheaper, faster and bigger than ever – and it’s also more hazardous than ever. While HTML mail is being employed more and more, particularly for mass-marketting, it is and always will be true that: HTML email can be dangerous, is not always readable, wastes bandwidth and is simply not necessary.

This article does not aim to present a balanced argument about the merits or otherwise of HTML mail. Nor am I suggesting that sending HTML mail will hurt you – it may even boost your company sales. However receiving HTML email can cause problems, so if you care at all about the people you send mail to, read on…

 

The 7 sins

1. HTML e-mail is dangerous

Nearly all viruses are transmitted by email. Both plain text and HTML mail may carry malware attachments but with HTML there is a significantly greater risk since some malware can exploit vulnerabilities in the HTML parser to automatically execute code as soon as the message is viewed in the preview pane (i.e. without the attachment having to be ‘opened’.)

2. HTML e-mail wastes bandwidth

Look at the source code of any HTML message and after the headers you’ll see the message body is duplicated, once in plain text and once in HTML. So most HTML messages are at least twice as big as plain text only, and they can be many time larger.

3. HTML e-mail doesn’t always work

Some popular e-mail readers (e.g. Pegasus) simply don’t read HTML mail, others (Pocomail and even AOL) have difficulties displaying it properly.

4. HTML e-mail can connect to the internet by itself

If you’re off-line, opening an HTML email cantaining images may (by default) open a connection to the internet.

5. HTML e-mail renders slowly

Some mail apps (e.g. Outlook) can slow down considerably when rendering HTML. The need for an HTML parser has also led to code-bloat in email apps generally.

6. HTML e-mail is not always reader-friendly

HTML allows the sender to use unreadably small or non-standard fonts, clashing colours, badly formatted images and sometimes there is no quick or easy way for the reader to adjust the appearance to THEIR choice.

7. Digested lists hate HTML mail

Subscriber lists, particularly those with a digest, discourage and sometimes block HTML (since it appears in the digest as a mess of code).

 

What to do…

Sending HTML-formatted email is just not necessary. If the appearance of your message is important either put it on a website and mail the URL, or save it as an .rtf (or even a .pdf) document, zip that up and send it as an attachment to a plain text mail

So.. check in your email client’s options for how to set ‘Mail Sending Format’ to ‘Plain Text’…

…and how to turn OFF ‘Reply to messages in the format in which they were sent’.

With these settings you will still be able to send images and other attachments. And images attached to plain text mail will be displayed by most popular email clients.

 

Links:

Here are some related pages. The links may have gone bad since I wrote this article.

(Note: These links are repeated below in the updated version of this post. I have checked the links. The link rot has been given a strikethrough).

HTML e-mail is STILL evil!!!

Introduction

(or “Comment: RE: Your “Seven reasons…” site, a question. Just who the hell do you think you are?“)

In late 1999 I subscribed to the evolt.org web designer’s list. I was struck by the vehemence of opposition to HTML email expressed by many on the list, with some half-seriously describing it as ‘evil’. A year later I understood their reasoning, but many of my newbie friends didn’t, and after a particularly nasty month in which I became a telephone help-line for several virus-infected acquaintances I decided to write this and the accompanying articles – Netiquette, Spam Fighting and Basic Online Security – so that I didn’t have to keep repeating the same advice. My intention was to have some URLs I could send to my errant friends, instead of wasting hours on the ‘phone or typing out the same advice in emails.

However all those articles have been found and linked to by bigger (and better) sites than mine and as a result general traffic to this page has soared… and so has the number of anonymous abusive responses! OK I can take abuse – after all, in my real life I’m a provocative performer and you should read some of my bad reviews – but the recent sudden surge in referrals (and abuse – e.g. the above) has prompted me to rethink this article and after doing so my conclusion was that…

HTML email is still EVIL and it’s getting worse!!!

The internet is a dangerous place for the unwary, the trusting and the naive but a safe haven for the lazy, the spiteful, the self-centered and the cowardly. One such individual sent me this:

SUBJECT: HTML email doesn’t workGee, that’s funny. The week my company (name withheld for privacy) switched to using HTML emails instead of plain-text for our marketing campaign offers our revenues took a dramatic leap and have pretty much tripled over the last year and half. I guess you just have to know what you’re doing, or at least have some experience in these things. Your comments and ideas are very outdated.

Sincerely,
B. D. Satterfield
Online Creative Director for above unmamed software company

This message was carefully typed into my contact form, without a valid email address being entered, so there was no way I could return it or even reply to it, though I did trace the I.P. no of the sender to a known spammer.

The ‘know what you’re doing’ jibe missed its mark since B.D. Satterfield (oh yes!) had clearly missed the purpose of my article and simple truth of my statement that ‘HTML e-mail doesn’t always work’. However the ‘outdated’ accusation WAS fair comment.

Two years ago I wrote that “it is hardly professional to ignore (or to be ignorant of) the negative impact of that message on the more informed members of your audience or the fact that a significant percentage will choose to instantly consign it to the waste basket or may never even receive it.”

OK that was clearly wrong. But hey, I hadn’t revised the page for more than a year and in that time the internet had changed radically… and not all to the good.

On the positive side, the internet is now cheaper, faster and bigger than ever. Unmetered access and widely available broadband, which were both ‘a fantasy’ in early 2000 are now becoming the norm, even here in the backwards UK. So the bandwidth issue, though still true, is of less concern than it was.

But that is the only positive. Unfortunately the cloud to that silver lining is that HTML mail is now more accepted, since fewer users will immediately notice the difference between a 5kb plain text or a 50kb HTML message. So… fewer notice… so fewer object… so more companies resort to HTML mail…

HTML email is now everywhere. But just because it is more accepted doesn’t mean it’s more acceptable.

On the negative side… the internet is now more dangerous than ever due to the increase in always-on connections in combination with the ignorance/complacency of new users of vulnerable systems (like the hacker-friendly WindowsXP) which can be hijacked for use as spam of DOS ‘bots’, PLUS the exponential growth in viral ingenuity and reproductivity, PLUS the refinement and ubiquity of user-tracking web-marketing technology (read ‘spyware’).

 

So what’s wrong with HTML mail?

Before I list the 7 points, I want one make one thing as clear as I can. It’s RECEIVING HTML mail that’s the problem. SENDING HTML mail will not hurt you (unless you are still using a metered dial up connection) – it may even boost your company sales – but it also may hurt the people to whom you send it. So if you are happy to be ignorant, lazy, spiteful, self-centred and/or cowardly you can ignore the rest of this article and go and bask in you supercillious smugness. OTOH if you care at all about the people you send mail to, read on…

HTML email can be dangerous,
HTML email is not always readable,
HTML email wastes bandwidth
and
HTML email is simply not necessary.

These 4 points are as true now as they were 3 years ago and indeed they will ALWAYS be true while plain text exists as an alternative to HTML mail. (I hereby predict that M$ are designing Outlook Express 9 to ONLY accept HTML email – remember you read it here first!)

So here are the same seven points I made before, all still true though some details have been updated and expanded:

 

1. HTML e-mail is dangerous

If for no other reason, you should not send e-mail in HTML format because by doing so you are exposing your intended recipient(s) to the risk of catching a virus – a virus which you yourself may be unaware you have until you are told about it by someone you have infected (or until it alerts you to its presence by unleashing its payload).

Most of the fast-spreading internet-borne viruses propagate by automatically forwarding themselves to every address which they can find in your address book, and some even seek out every address in the body of every message in your inbox. Of course, they don’t stop to ask your permission before doing this – the first symptom you’ll spot is someone you’ve infected sending you an angry message saying you’ve given them a virus.

Unfortunatley the latest popular virus at the time of writing (k l e z) fakes the from address too, so you cannot warn (or accuse) unknowing senders of viruses, and you may also find yourself falsely accused.

But what has this to do with HTML mail?

For at least 3 years there have been viruses (namely Bubbleboy and kak.worm) which are triggered simply by viewing an HTML message in the preview pane of unpatched versions of Outlook Express. There are other ways of getting html functional email to automatically run code, by exploiting a vulnerability in the way the Internet Explorer engine (which Outlook and OE use to display HTML mail) handles IFRAMEs for example.

Since HTML can include scripts, HTML email is obviously more of a security risk than plain text, and the most recent viruses have made full use of this flaw.

2. HTML e-mail always wastes bandwidth

HTML e-mails are always at least twice the size of plain text mail, since they include both the plain text version and the same thing with embedded html markup tags. Don’t believe me? Just look at the source code of any html mail you have received (in Outlook Express click File > Properties > Details > Message Source).

So YOU may have a big fat connection, but if you’re sending your HTML mail to 5000+ addresses, some of your users will probably be on 56k or less metered dial-up connections, and your bloated message will cost them money.

3. HTML e-mail doesn’t always work

Some popular e-mail readers (Pegasus Mail for one example) simply don’t read HTML mail and others (such as Pocomail and even AOL) have difficulties displaying it properly.

The irony is that the applications which do read HTML well are precisely the ones which have the security holes. Why? …because they render HTML… To do so they need to use some form of HTML rendering engine, usually one that is already resident on your system rather than one that is inbuilt. i.e. they use I.E. and Internet Explorer is so closely connected to the heart of the Windows OS that a security hole in it can be an open door to hard-drive trashing scripts.

4. HTML e-mail can connect to the internet by itself

If an HTML e-mail includes references to online images then (by default) Dial-Up Networking will try to connect to the internet to download those images. These images can also be used to set and retrieve cookies. O.K. So neither of these are your problem if you’re the sender… but they can be very annoying if you’re on the receiving end.

5. HTML e-mail renders slowly

Some mail apps (e.g. Outlook) can slow down considerably when rendering HTML. The need for an HTML parser has also led to code-bloat in email apps generally.

6. HTML usually looks like it has been designed by stoned amateur chimpanzees using Front Page Express with their feet

HTML e-mail offers the sender the opportunity to really go to town with their lack of design skills – unreadably small fonts, fonts that no-one else is likely to have, clashing colors, badly formatted image files etc. etc. By taking control of the appearance of e-mail away from the recipient they can prevent the sight-impaired from applying necessary user-accessability options…

7. Digested lists hate HTML mail

OK, this one’s a little specific, but if you send an HTML email to a subscriber list which has a digested version (i.e. which bundles several postings together into a single longer email) then your message may well appear in the digested version with all its html tags – i.e. virtually unreadable… that is if the list administrator hasn’t configured their server to automatically filter your offending format to oblivion.

What to do…

Sending HTML-formatted email is just not necessary. If the appearance of your message is important either put it on a website and mail the URL, or save it as an .rtf (or even a .pdf) document, zip that up and send it as an attachment to a plain text mail

So.. check in your email client’s options for how to set ‘Mail Sending Format’ to ‘Plain Text’…

…and how to turn OFF ‘Reply to messages in the format in which they were sent’.

Here’s how to stop sending (EVIL) HTML e-mail from Outlook Express.

With these settings you will still be able to send images and other attachments. And images attached to plain text mail will be displayed by most popular email clients.

 

Links:

Here are some related pages. The links may have gone bad since I wrote this article.

ASCII Ribbon Campaign Against HTML Email

ASCII Ribbon Campaign
against HTML mail, vCards and proprietary formats

online since 2000

»this trend, on the web at least, has resulted a glut of graphics heavy, worthless pages,
that take a million years to download and once you have them, you wish you hadn't wasted the time.«
gabriel helman - the semi-official, semi-serious ascii ribbon campaign against gratuitous graphics on the web!

idea - well i'm not that strict and completely anti-graphic (to be seen on this page, for instance) as gabriel helman, but anyway i think that a lot of pages have too much graphics on them. i feel still able to protect myself from these pages by simply not browsing them. BUT! it's pretty hard to prevent yourself from receiving such formatted email. the only things they are good for is to raise my online costs, to delay their own displaying and to bloat my mail folders.

signatures - if you agree, feel free to join the movement and show this by adding it to your signature. anyway, if you like to alter the proposed signatures, feel free to do that, again.

chisseled version (4 lines)

/"
/ ASCII Ribbon Campaign
X against HTML email & vCards
/

smooth version (4 lines)

_
ASCII ribbon campaign ( )
- against HTML email X
& vCards /

corpulent version (7 lines)
sent in by retnek

_
/o
// The ASCII
// Ribbon Campaign
V/ Against HTML
/A eMail!
//

brief version (2 lines)
sent in by sergio gutiérrez santos

() ascii ribbon campaign - against html mail
/ - against microsoft attachments

monstrous version (10 lines)
sent in by scott l.

~^~
// " /
// // -------------------
@ // ///=SCII Ribbon Campaign
X /=---=gainst HTML E- Mail
X ///
// ----------------------------
//
//

undo - as a matter of stupidity (or something else - who knows), some big email programs seem to be shipped with html set to be the default mailing method. however, this (mostly) is no dogma! you can easily turn off that annoying feature. harley hahn sent in this tutorial for outlook and netscape. others may follow soon.

origin - to put this straight: i did not invent the ascii ribbon campaign, but i highly support it. i searches the web quite long, but as i did not find any pages offering signatures along with reasons and the special focus on emails, i decided to create this page.

godfather - i received a mail from dario dariol, who tried to help tracking down the origin of the signature. currently it seems to go back to mr. teixeira from brazil, but as he has changed his email address since then, we were not able to completely reveal the mystery. for the time being let's accept this as the first appearance of the ribbon:

Date: Wed, 17 Jun 1998 10:20:01 +0300 (GMT-3)
From: Mauricio Teixeira
To: redhat
Subject: Re: Space problem?
Message-ID: Content-Type: TEXT/PLAIN; charset=US-ASCII

On Wed, 17 Jun 1998, wward wrote:

> the filesystem still shows no space available. Where is the space
> I freed-up?

Sometimes the space freed-up os shown only after a reboot... I
dunno why...

__________________________________________________________________
Mauricio Teixeira - Amazonline Internet Provider - Belem/PA/Brazil
mauricio@amazonline.com.br - badman@brasnet.org
(soon!)
/"
/ CAMPANHA DA FITA ASCII - CONTRA MAIL HTML
X ASCII RIBBON CAMPAIGN - AGAINST HTML MAIL
/

brothers - fortunately this page is no longer alone in the world wide web:

*the semi-official, semi-serious ascii ribbon campaign against gratuitous graphics on the web! (english, 1998)
*7 reasons why html e-mail is evil (english, 2000/2002)
*no html mail (english, 2003?)
*losderover.be (dutch, 2003)
*ascii ribbon campaign (german, 2004)
*ascii ribbon campaign (english, basically a mirror of my page)


Another very similar page. Possibly updated from this first page.


ASCII Ribbon Campaign
against HTML e-mail and proprietary formats

"...this trend, on the web at least, has resulted a glut of graphics heavy, worthless pages,
that take a million years to download and once you have them, you wish you hadn't wasted the time."
gabriel helman - the semi-official, semi-serious ascii ribbon campaign against gratuitous graphics on the web

"There are many people who prefer not to receive HTML email, some who find it to be a personal inconvenience, and others who must literally pay for the greater bandwidth consumed by HTML email. All of these considerations become particularly strong on newsgroups and mailing lists (with their great variety of participants from around the world), where the use of HTML email is often considered ignorant or rude."
Alan G. Isaac - HTML Email: Whenever Possible, Turn It Off!

the concept - simply put, HTML e-mail is gets in the way of effective communication. There's a time and a place for everything, and the time and place for graphics, animation, and fancy fonts is the web (although Gabriel Helman would disagree with me on that score!). E-mail is -- and should remain -- a plaintext medium. Why? Because e-mail is a communication medium, and a good one. In order for a communication medium to work effectively, it has to be understood. All e-mail programs can display plaintext in a readable fashion, but they can't all display HTML meaningfully. Chances are at least 50/50 that any HTML e-mail I receive gets deleted before it's opened, so, if you really want to get my attention, send me plaintext.

what's more - some people extend this to the Web and to vCards. I don't. The Web can do what it likes, and I find vCards useful.

signatures - if you agree, feel free to join the movement and show this by adding an ASCII ribbon to your signature, or come up with your own (if you do, drop me a line, I'd love to see it).

chisseled version (4 lines)

/"
/ ASCII Ribbon Campaign
X against HTML e-mail
/

smooth version (4 lines)

_
ASCII ribbon campaign ( )
against HTML e-mail X
/

brief version (2 lines)

() ascii ribbon campaign - against html e-mail
/ - against microsoft attachments

Scott L.'s BIG version (10 lines)

~^~
// " /
// // -------------------
@ // ///=SCII Ribbon Campaign
X /=---=gainst HTML E- Mail
X ///
// ----------------------------
//
//

oops - Some poplar e-mail programs seem to be shipped with html set to be the default mailing method. This means that some people don't even realize they're participating in this heinous act (which, by the way, makes you look like an Internet newbie!) You can easily turn off that annoying feature. Here is a tutorial for Outlook and Netscape.

Copyright ©2005 Ben Steeves. Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, no Front-Cover Texts, and no Back-Cover Texts. A copy of the license is included in the section entitled "GNU Free Documentation License".

Big Cat ASCII Art Collection

Big Cat – ASCII art – Starts with an ASCII art FAQ.

___ _________ ________ ______ ___ _________________ ___ ___ ______
/ _ )/ _/ ___/ / ___/ _ /_ __/ ____ / _ | / __/ ___/ _/ _/ / _ | / _ /_ __/
/ _ |/ // (_ / / /__/ __ |/ / /___/ / __ |_ / /___/ /_/ / / __ |/ , _/ / /
/____/___/___/ ___/_/ |_/_/ /_/ |_/___/___/___/___/ /_/ |_/_/|_| /_/

__.~~``````~~.__
`> (o) (o) <` :>(.: Y :.)<: /~// {^~^} ````` What`s ASCII ? ASCII (ask'-ee) is an acronym for "American Standard Code for Information Interchange." This standard was developed by the American National Standards Institute. It is a coding scheme which assigns numeric values to letters, numbers, punctuation marks, and other certain characters such as control codes. By standardizing the values for these characters, ASCII enables computers and computer programs to exchange information. ASCII is the basic coding system which computers use to communicate with one another.Essentially, ASCII artwork denotes pictures which are created without using graphics. They are "non-graphical graphics". Its palette is limited to the symbols and characters that you have available to you on your computer keyboard. Specifically those 95 which are listed on the below ASCII chart. International symbols, such as the UK pound sterling sign, are not considered to be ASCII characters because they are not universal on all systems The ASCII character set consists of 128 characters (numbered from 0 to 127) which are standard on nearly all types of computers. The first 32 characters (0 to 31) are assigned to communication and printer control codes-- non-printing characters -- these include the control codes for signalling end of transmission, a beep, escape, backspace, and more. The last ASCII character, 127, is another control code representing the'Delete' key. The other characters (32 to 126) are the ones which appearon a "standard" keyboard. These are the characters which are used to create ASCII art. The ASCII characters used in ASCII art are the 95 characters from #32 to #126, as follows. 032 [space] 048 0 064 @ 080 P 096 ` 112 p 033 ! 049 1 065 A 081 Q 097 a 113 q 034 " 050 2 066 B 082 R 098 b 114 r 035 # 051 3 067 C 083 S 099 c 115 s 036 $ 052 4 068 D 084 T 100 d 116 t 037 % 053 5 069 E 085 U 101 e 117 u 038 & 054 6 070 F 086 V 102 f 118 v 039 ' 055 7 071 G 087 W 103 g 119 w 040 ( 056 8 072 H 088 X 104 h 120 x 041 ) 057 9 073 I 089 Y 105 i 121 y 042 * 058 : 074 J 090 Z 106 j 122 z 043 + 059 ; 075 K 091 [ 107 k 123 { 044 , 060 < 076 L 092 108 l 124 | 045 - 061 = 077 M 093 ] 109 m 125 } 046 . 062 > 078 N 094 ^ 110 n 126 ~
047 / 063 ? 079 O 095 _ 111 o

What`s ASCII Art Good For ?

ASCII Art is the dinosaur of computer graphics.
It can be useful since many people's e-mail
programs do not view graphics files without the
help of another program. Some e-mail
programs don't allow anything except text files
to be sent and/or received. And most people are
leery about downloading an unknown attachment.
Using ASCII characters to create a text drawing
allows pictures to be added to nearly all email.
The only catch is that the reader must view
the ASCII art picture in a fixed-pitch font--
and nearly all mail readers have an option for fixed-pitch fonts.

Here Are Some Good Uses For ASCII Art:

to add pictures to text email
for illustrations of subject matter
to create flow charts or diagrams
for birthday/holiday greetings
for signature files
to liven-up dull but essential business email
to illustrate e-zines
for use on text-only webpages.

(some people still use Lynx and other non-graphical browsers, believe it or not!)
for use on any webpages

(text pictures loads faster than the large graphics
many people turn graphics off)
to create coloring pages for children and adults
for use on BBSs (bulletin board systems)
for use on MUDs and MUGs (multi-user dungeons and games)
for use on mIRC (internet relay chat)
to print out for Holiday cards and greetings
just for fun and aesthetic value!

Veiwing ASCII Art Correctly

You must display it in a font that has uniform
character width.This is also known as a "fixed-pitch font."Your
browser should have some provision for setting a fixed font. Fixed-pitch
fonts include "Courier" "FixedSys", or "Monaco". This is important because
viewing ASCII art in proportional spacing will cause it to look skewed.
ASCII Art is not made in proportional fonts because the letter widths vary
from font to font. Even if you know what font the pictures were created
in, it still tends to look skewed. ASCII art is universal but only if
it is created and viewed in a fixed-pitch font and without any non-ASCII characters.

Does ASCII art looks fine on my website and itlooks skewed on their system.
Check the font!!!! ASCII art **must** be created and viewed in the fixed-pitch
font. (AOL and WebTV users-- you ONLY have capabilities for a proportional
font-- you will not be able to see the ASCII art properly unless you copy/paste
it to notepad or a text editor in the proper font; or unless you print it out).