NOTE: I haven't been getting around to updating these "configuration" articles nearly as often as I should. Mail programs and webmail interfaces are constantly coming out with new versions, often radically different from earlier ones, and regrettably, often less compliant with traditional standards and practices of mail formatting with each revision. If this article is out of step with the current version, my apologies; I'll try to update it one of these days.
Lycos began as a search engine. I'm enough of a Web oldtimer to remember when it was located at lycos.cs.cmu.edu (which, to this day, redirects to the current site), and was an academic project of my alma mater, Carnegie Mellon University (from which I graduated well before it, or the Web itself, started). These days, Google has long since overtaken it in the search engine wars (and, trying a Lycos search now, I can see why; Lycos makes you wade through a whole heap of "sponsored links" at the top of your search before it gets to pages that are more relevant but didn't pay them; Google has thus far shown much greater restraint in letting their "marketing types" undermine the works of their techies). However, they don't rely on this any more, since they've become one of the several "mega-portals" of the Web, full of a complex array of services. One of them is Web-based e-mail.
Configurations... Who needs 'em?
My intention here was to give explanations regarding what configuration settings in Lycos Mail would cause that service to create messages most in keeping with the principles of well-formedness. This task proved surprisingly simple... but not for a good reason. It turned out that it didn't matter what settings you make in the Options page... the messages produced by Lycos are equally malformatted in all cases! Here are the problems with the format of Lycos messages:
One thing in Lycos's favor, though; its Compose page appears to default to plain-text no matter what browser you're using. As with Hotmail, MSIE users get a choice of a plain or fancy editor, while other browser users have only plain text, but it seems the default is always text, which is the best choice unless you really need the features of HTML (and know the recipient wants it that way).
Still, enough manual labor is needed to get a decently-formatted message out of Lycos that I do not recommend use of this service.
Next: The open-source Mozilla browser suite also includes an e-mail program, and, like the browser, it tries to be as standards-compliant as possible.
This page was first created 12 Jul 2003, and was last modified 12 Jul 2003.