A Community Devoted to the Preservation and Practice of Celestial Navigation and Other Methods of Traditional Wayfinding
From: Frank Reed
Date: 2019 Feb 6, 09:04 -0800
Yes, those messages with non-wrapping text on small screens are a difficult problem. They are "plain text" messages.
Now you might imagine that plain text messages are the simplest of all messages. Text is so easy! But the problem is that authors of plain text messages generally use white-space for formatting and structuring their messages. If a plain text message consists of a few paragraphs of text, that's not a problem, but as soon as a message author adds a table of information or (back in the old days) an "ASCII art" diagram, then that white-space has a semantic purpose, and you're stuck. If you throw it out, you ruin the meaning of the message.
There are a few solutions to this problem. The great majority of older messages over ten years old in the archives are plain text messages. Available archives of old messages could be limited to a few years on small screens. Or the messages could be displayed "broken" with a warning. Or a popup could appear on older messages saying "Can't view this message on this device, try rotating to horizontal view, or view this message on a larger screen".
New plain text messages are a different story. In some cases, if time permits, I can manually re-compose a new plain text message as a standard message (I just did that 15 minutes ago, in fact), but obviously that's inefficient. Also, I can try to convince all current message authors that plain text messages are bad. This is a hard sell for some people, and we have a couple of "old dogs" who shall not be taught a new trick! That gets us back to the alternatives for old messages...