Jon Nelson writes:

I cracked open my client, pine, and opened a folder. It contains 4000
messages.  I then sorted and timed the operation. It took 17 seconds.

That's what I suspected.

Pine and mutt are fine mail clients, but unfortunately their mind share is very modest. Furthermore, they work differently, and use IMAP in a very different fashion than other, more popular IMAP clients.

You should repeat your experiment with Mozilla, Thunderbird, Evolution, or other IMAP clients whose names I won't mention, but are easy to surmise. You will get much different results.

It's certainly possible to add implicit indexing in such a way as to improve the response time in pine or mutt. Unfortunately that'll come as an expense of deteriorated response time to other, more popular IMAP clients, because the server will now waste time building indexes that it will never use.

You can't please everyone, and unless you can find some ways to change things to the benefit of everyone, this will be a difficult argument to make.

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