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This question came to me after reading this question and its comments.

EDIT: The question is now posted.

In my opinion, setting emacs up to read and/or write mail is hard. And given how many packages exist to achieve this, it shouldn't be that hard. I have stopped counting how many people (including myself, mental voice version) told me "Mail with emacs? Oh, yes, I tried this and that, and this happened, then I gave up". I know many emacs fanatics, only one of them reads his mail with emacs. He writes them with something else.

Yet it is also something that a lot of people want to do at some point.

There is an overview on mail packages on the emacs wiki: http://www.emacswiki.org/emacs/CategoryMail This surely is a very nice and encouraging entry point for beginners ("sarcasm")!

In my opinion, the emacs.sx website is one of the best place that the internet can offer to have a list of mail solution for emacs which would be:

  • nicely formatted (no need to dive through three layers of pages to read the essentials about a package)
  • nicely sorted (votes should give an overview of popularity, and implicitely usability, of a package)
  • curated (obsolete packages would be marked as such, etc)

This list would contain a very basic community-wiki question (as broad as possible, to be available as a duplicate candidate for as many questions as possible on that topic), and then one answer per package or solution.

As an example of how this can work without being a mess, you can see this list of latex IDEs, and the associated meta question which became necessary at some point. I don't think we'd need to go as far as tex.sx for that (no need to have nominated curators, for example), but should this list appear, it would be a good idea to agree beforehand on a template for answers, for example.

This template could include information such as external dependencies, supported protocols, authentication protocol, password storage method, support for offline work...

One last point: as I understand it, a lot of the difficulties come from the email protocols rather than emacs, and users underestimating the number of tools required to recieve or send a mail. Maybe an extra accepted answer (to be above the list) could be used to sum this up, and explain exactly where does emacs come into play. On the other hand, I believe that this explanation could be rather off-topic on this site, so it could probably be replaced by a link to another sx site about the question.

Any thoughts?

  • As long as we delineated very clearly here a model for the answers to follow, then yes I think it would be something very helpful. The question will need to specify it's looking for very thorough answers, so that we have a reason to discourage short answers. The problem is whether anyone will be willing to write these long answers. – Malabarba Nov 17 '14 at 22:07
  • 2
    I don't think short answers should be discouraged, as long as there are people willing to edit them into longer answer. Isn't that why community wiki is for, after all? – T. Verron Nov 18 '14 at 6:29
  • I hope this takes off. I'm a beginning user who has stumbled here and there with email on emacs. Presently I'm limping forward with Gnus, which I chose simply because it was the only thing I could get to work. But it is a little clunky for my actual needs at times. I'm very interested to read concise, up-to-date summaries of available approaches as well as checking the number of upvotes to see what's popular with whom. – Steven Arntson Jun 5 '15 at 20:24
  • Here is another big list question: emacs.stackexchange.com/questions/13197/… (and I created the big-list tag there, feel free to use it on other similar questions). – Joe Corneli Jun 16 '15 at 10:07
  • ... although the tag was removed by a moderator, so I fell back to using a "big list -" prefix in the subject line, which seems to be the usage on tex.se – Joe Corneli Jun 16 '15 at 10:42
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Just to let you know, I would be happy to give my answer on a how-to-use-emacs-for-mail question. These days I use Mu4e for the mail I don't filter to oblivion in Gmail. Mu4e is shipped along with with mu, which I use together with offlineimap. Mu4e seems fairly well documented, but I can share the (generic) details of my configuration, which I used to read 2 different accounts and to send mail. Ages ago, I used Rmail, with filters in procmail but I don't think I have the configs around anymore.

I could offer similar personal configurations for Org, Evil, Eww, and some other things.

If you Google "dot emacs github" you'll find lots of general purpose configs, which could also be interesting for research purposes.

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