Top vs Bottom Posting

From: Dan Knight <listmom_at_email.domain.hidden>
Date: Wed, 13 Nov 2002 18:42:44 -0500

One of my pet peeves -- and something a lot of you have probably received a note about -- is people who quote the entire original message right down through the footer. The header. The ads. Everything.

I go through each digest, scrolling past screen after screen of quoted material. It's too much. It's unnecessary. It's poor netiquette. And it violates list guidelines, which ask that you quote selectively in your replies.

We had a lengthy and heated discussion of this and replying netiquette on the iMac list. After reading it all, I did some statistical analysis, put down my foot, and created a new rule for the lists. Well, guideline, if you want to be precise.

--> Bottom Posting

I learned how to reply when I joined an email list and saw how others did it. They would quote the line or paragraph they were replying to and follow it with their response. It looks like a dialog -- he said, she said.

The beauty of this method is that even if you never read the original message (say you just subscribed), the quoted portions provide enough information that you know what the writer is responding to.

It's not just brilliant, it's intuitive. The reply comes after what you are replying to.

As Mary noted on the iMac List:

  1. Because it reverses the logical flow of conversation.
  2. Why is top posting frowned upon?

--> Top Posting

Over the past decade, as more and more users have come to use email, a new style of reply emerged where the reply came first and was followed by the original message. Often the entire original message. No selective quoting. No removing unnecessary header lines or ads at the bottom. Bam, everything.

Some people prefer top posting, some are very vocal in their support of it, and some refuse to scroll through a message to read a bottom posted reply. Really.

--> Our Research

Remember the issue of quoting the entire original message? Well it turns out that almost everyone who does that is a top poster. They use the default setting on their email client, they don't take the time to quote selectively, and they fill digests with massive quantities of unnecessarily quoted content.

--> Our Guidelines

Bottom posting is not only the oldest established method of replying on the Internet, it is also the most logical. It demonstrates that the sender is in a dialogue. It makes it easy for new subscribers to follow the conversation. It's just logical.

Because of this, we recommend bottom posting as the normal way of replying on our lists.

This should also eliminate most of the problems with excessive quoting.

However, we are not passing a hard and fast rule against top posting. I use it myself when I send the following note to excessive quoters:

>This is a semi-automatic message from Dan, the listmom.
>Thanks for posting to the list.
>Please be careful not to quote *too much* of the original message (your
>recent posting is quoted below) when replying to the list -- especially
>the header and/or footer. (You're not being singled out; we send this to
>everyone who does that, and we realize that many email programs do this by
>default, so you may have to read the manual or help files to learn how to
>change this.)

Of course, that's not the kind of discussion we see within a list. On a list, top posting should be the exception, not the rule. Something like "this is a bunch of bunk" or "the nanny declares this thread DEAD" are appropriate as top posts; most replies are not.

Remember that this is a guideline. We won't kick you off the list for not following it, but we believe bottom posting is the better way.

Dan the listmom

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>The Think Different Store ---------------------------------------------------------------
Received on 2002-11-13 16:06:33

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