In plain text emails, the links contain a line break if they become “too long”, which breaks them:

Thunderbird screenshot: line breaks in URLs

Clicking at them doesn’t lead to the correct question if (part of) the question ID is in the next line:

Thunderbird screenshot: part of the question ID of the link is in the next line

I think enclosing the URL in < and > would solve it. Enclosing the URL in angle brackets doesn’t fix this problem (see screenshots above).

So I guess that line breaks shouldn’t be part of URLs in emails.

I don’t know how long this has been the case. Maybe since:
Word-wrapping plain-text messages at 72 columns?

  • If first part of the URL contains the whole ID of the question and the break is just in the last path component, containing title, the link works and redirects to the correct URL. – Palec Sep 2 '14 at 12:55
  • Solution: Don't read the plain text! – bjb568 Sep 2 '14 at 13:49
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    That is not a solution, @bjb568. Some clients do not support HTML messages, somewhere their support is broken. That is why plaintext version of the message is sent. Many mailing lists accept only plaintext messages and for a good reason – it is the only way you can be sure that anyone can read it. – Palec Sep 2 '14 at 15:19
  • @Palec If an email client is bad, don't use it! :P – bjb568 Sep 2 '14 at 15:50
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    I think not supporting HTML in email is a feature, not a bug, @bjb568. :-) I use Thunderbird with HTML turned off. And turning it on just for some broken newsletters… I would rather unsubscribe from them. If a newsletter is broken, don’t read it! :-P – Palec Sep 2 '14 at 16:06

In the last few hours, the plain text email appearance changed, which fixed the problem:

a long question URL is no longer broken

| improve this answer | |

Please do not insert line breaks into URLs at all, enclosing in angle brackets does not help. This is not the fault of any specific client, the message is already sent broken, as you can see in online plaintext version of Stack Overflow newsletter. But most of the wrapped URLs work for me as the linkified first part before the wrap contains ID of the post and the system manages to fix the last component containing title via a redirect.

I suggest that all links are converted to the [link text][1] … [1]: link url "link title" syntax. The same applies to images, if they are sent. Code blocks and lists of link URLs should not be wrapped, other contents should. This should be easy to implement and more usable than the current markup even, I believe.

A link to online HTML version of the newsletter would be nice, too.

| improve this answer | |

We now surround urls with angle brackets in the plain-text versions of newsletter emails, as well as tag/filter subscription emails. Hope that helps.

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    Unfortunately, not. As I mentioned, I "don't know if it might/should contain a line-break at all, though". It seems that a line-break is not allowed. Thunderbird still breaks the URL. I guess URLs shouldn't contain any additional characters not included in the original, and if it is enclosed in < and > the mail client understands where the URL starts/ends and can display it in any configured/preferred way. I'm no expert, though. I only know that I get many text/plain mails with long URLs that can be clicked. – unor Aug 15 '12 at 19:00
  • Just noticed that. The URLs are still broken due to the line break. Tested in Opera. – fuxia Oct 17 '12 at 22:39
  • @toscho - are they broken in anything not Opera? Opera has many, many bugs specific to it not following specs that we're not inclined to fix as we're doing everything by the book and we can't reasonable fix Opera without causing other issues. – Nick Craver Nov 15 '12 at 10:14
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    @NickCraver I have no other email program at hand currently, but these are hard line breaks in the mail body. That should be a break in every email client, as far as I know. – fuxia Nov 15 '12 at 10:30
  • @toscho - they are not breaks we insert, this is the plain text email conversion doing the break at n characters on the line...that's why it depends on the client. – Nick Craver Nov 15 '12 at 10:34
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    @NickCraver See this example, a copy & paste from the WordPress.se newsletter. These line breaks are not from Opera – I have sent and received hundreds of plain text emails without this problem. :) – fuxia Nov 15 '12 at 10:41
  • As you can see in any browser (e.g. when looking on SO newsletter in plaintext), there actually are inserted line breaks in plain text newsletters, @NickCraver. I wanted to report the bug when observed in Thunderbird 24.6.0 (almost current) and found this report. – Palec Aug 26 '14 at 15:55

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