on a different "manners" topic, was Re: Phishing...

Justin M. Streiner streiner at cluebyfour.org
Wed Jan 3 15:13:56 UTC 2007

This little piece will be top-posted, but everthing else will be inline. 
I'm also going to trim the pieces that I won't be responding to *gasp*!
Please don't shoot me - comments are inline ;-)

On Wed, 3 Jan 2007, Edward Lewis wrote:

> I'm not going to pick on the "it's" (grammatically correct, but it refers the 
> email disclaimers which I don't feel like commenting on) but I want to say 
> that I've come to appreciate top-posting.  With top-posts, there is no need 
> to scroll down the list, and it is more like a conversation than injecting 
> comments in-line.

Most of the conversations I participare in are at least somehwat 
bi-directional, rather than having one person speak a chapter and 
requiring the other person to do the same with their responses.
Keep in mind I'm not saying you're wrong, I think we just interpret 
message flow a little differently.

> Some say that top-posting reverses the conversation, but if you are thumbing 
> through the archives of top-posted threads, each contribution is on the first 
> screen and you can navigate message to message in time-order.  In my personal 
> opinion, reading through archives of in-lined threads is much more of a 
> problem - for one because threads take off in other directions and an in-line 
> conversation never stands alone.  Usually with a few nested in-lines I loose 
> "who said what" context too.

I disagree.  The general convention has been that a paragraph or text 
block contains a complete thought, or at least a chain of sentences that 
are at least somewhat related to each other.  People usually limit their 
response to just that little bit of text, so the "you-say-X, I-respond-Y" 
flow of the thread is indeed preserved.

> (As an exercise, try to prepare a reply in-line and then as a top-post.  You 
> will see that in-line means less typing, as you don't have to "rephrase the 
> question."  In-line is less work to render, but I think it is a poor 
> communication style.)

Again, I disagree, but that's just my opinion.  Top-posting everything 
means I either have to scroll down through the whole message to locate the 
piece of text that person responded to, or perhaps have to locate the 
previous message because the person didn't bother to quote the previous 
message in their reply.  Too much context-switching and caching makes for 
inefficient message reading :)

> As far as the HTML, I don't think I use it, but I fail to see why it's rude. 
> Sorry, it is newer technology and it does screw up old tools.  (I do get bit 
> by it - the hotels seem to love HTML confirmations that I can't read on my 
> work mailer.)  It's my/reader's choice to not use newer tools.

It makes assumptions that everyone a) wants to read HTML messages and/or 
b) has a mail reader capable of rendering them.  I'm reading this message 
from my Linux machine at home, using the newest version of Pine over an 
SSH session.  Compared to firing up mozilla/thunderbird/evolution and 
X-forwarding the display to the machine I'm sitting in front of, this 
setup is substantially faster and more lightweight for remote reading.

> There.  I've said it...oh, and the disclaimers don't give me heartburn.  I 
> just ignore them.

I usually do as well, but when I receive a 1-line email from someone and 
it has a 1-page disclaimer at the bottom that chances are I will not read, 
then yes I get a little annoyed :)  It's right up there with people who 
assume the rest of the world uses Outlook/Exchange, i.e. "Smith, Joe would 
like to recall the message 'ABCDEFG'".


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