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The version of emacs I'm using is 27.1-r4 (Gentoo description).

My .gnus file is

(setq
    gnus-select-method '(nnmaildir ".maildir" (directory "~/.nnmaildir"))
    mail-sources '((maildir :path "~/.nnmaildir/" :subdirs ("cur" "new")))
;;; mail-source-delete-incoming t
 )
(setq gnus-secondary-select-methods nil)
(setq gnus-message-archive-group "nnmaildir+.maildir:archive")

(setq gnus-inhibit-user-auto-expire t)

The .maildir directory is ~/.nnmaildir/.maildir/

On running emacs -f gnus I get

Reading incoming mail from maildir...
Processing mail from ~/.emacs-mail-crash-box...
Mail source (maildir :path ~/.nnmaildir/ :subdirs (cur new)) failed: (file-error Read error Is a directory /home/ngaroe/.emacs-mail-crash-box)

and .emacs-mail-crash-box is

ngaroe@lenovo ~ $ l .emacs-mail-crash-box/
total 24
4 drwx------  5 ngaroe ngaroe 4096 Dec  1  2019 ./
4 drwx------ 55 ngaroe ngaroe 4096 Apr 11 14:34 ../
4 drwx------  2 ngaroe ngaroe 4096 Dec  1  2019 cur/
4 -rw-------  1 ngaroe ngaroe   17 Dec  1  2019 .mu-prop
4 drwx------  2 ngaroe ngaroe 4096 Dec  1  2019 new/
4 drwx------  2 ngaroe ngaroe 4096 Dec  1  2019 tmp/

There was no .emacs-mail-crash-box before running emacs/gnus so it seems to have been an own goal...

What on earth is going on?

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The answer is ... delete the directory .emacs-mail-crash-box (saving a copy just in case), create a new empty file .emacs-mail-crash-box and rerun emacs -f gnus ...

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    Thanks for following up on your own question. Could you please clarify what part of the question this post answers? I'm guessing it resolves the "how do I make the errors go away" problem, but doesn't explain what's going on or why it works. – Dan Apr 16 at 14:09
  • @Dan Sorry, the problem was that emacs/gnus creates .emacs-mail-crash-box as a directory and this can be bypassed by creating it as a file before running emacs/gnus. I don't know whether it's a bug or a feature -- a few months ago (not sure how long or the emacs version) the directory was created with just drw-r--r-- permissions so it couldn't read it and failed on this error so something has been changed. – Chris Apr 17 at 16:24

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