On Aug 10, 2004, at 6:25 PM, Greg 'groggy' Lehey wrote:

Here's a good reason to top-post: I'm referring to the message as a
whole, rather than to the content.

What reference to a whole? Whole what?

This message came in while I was writing my previous message in this thread. It shows *exactly* the points I was referring to.

What are you referring to?

Yes, the
reply is posted at the bottom, but the quoted text is mutilated beyond
what anybody could have believed 20 years ago.  Your reply appears to
refer to the last paragraph only (I suppose; I can't read the
message), but you've (mis)quoted it in its entirety.

Whereas I have no idea what you're referring to now.

A question to you: do you like the appearance of this message?

It's a very pretty message. But it is all blah blah blah blah if I haven't a frame of reference for the content in question.

Whereas this way of replying reads like conversation; moreover, Mail.app will highlight lines with indent marking and color so I can easily process what was already written visually and if I want to skip it, I can; if I'm reading a conversation, I can easily tell what was written and at what point.

 Or do
you do it because it's too difficult to write a tidy reply?

Top posting? Or inline posting? I inline because it's more like a conversation style. It's PRECISE. I know exactly what point is being referred to, and I would think that ambiguity is something in the technology field that should be AVOIDED.

You should get a new one then.

New what? What is being referred to if the "message as a whole" is more than three paragraphs? And am I right with my assumption of what it's referring to?


>My car is a piece of crap. $^@@# thing broke down for the third time today.
You should get a new one then.

AH! Simple. Referring to the car. Not the dog that chewed the shoes, or the DVD player that has buffer problems, or anything else in the contrived example...

I suspect
the latter, and that's the point I'm trying to make.  I do
occasionally have to use "Outlook", and I find it incredibly painful
to use.

No, I think the latter makes it sound more like the replier has schizophrenia and is talking to himself. My personal theory was that more literate people tend to inline post while the less literate tended to top-post, but I'm not in a field where I could study that theory conclusively. Longer top posters seem to ramble on and on, unless the reader scrolls down to figure out what in hell they're referring to. The only time I "top post" is when I'm truly sending something as content that shouldn't be forwarded again (a notice or memo, a story that should NOT be edited to understand it...and people that keep forwarding jokes ad infinitum, PLEASE trim the damned quoted HEADERS!!) as well as propagate a growing list of crud that ISN'T referred to. It's not a matter of pretty replies, it's laziness. Pure laziness. When I want to reply to a point or question, I quote the reply or question portion and don't include the sigs or the random crap already inserted.

Let's stop trying to justify top posting for every single email out there and just admit it; people are lazy. People who top post for *everything* are just lazy with trimming crap out. they want to spill out their response and that's it. There are some things we're lazy about that can be taken care of with features or protocol; for instance, word wrapping. Someone is going to justify my asbestos underwear as I send this because I didn't word wrap at 72 characters. Why?! Because I didn't keep hitting enter at "reasonable" spots. Most mail readers will do it automatically. My reader doesn't. I'm using Mail.app; it uses a different method for dynamically wrapping text...forgot what it was called already...but basically no matter what the display is, it'll word wrap my mail so that it appears legible (within reason) and if I manually insert returns, it'll look like CRAP as it interprets the linefeeds. That can be taken care of by using a reader with this feature (it's an open standard...) and inserting the manual feeds reminds me of the idiots that typed up their five page reports in word processors by hitting enter at the end of each line and then inserting a word so there were stair-stepping throughout the entire friggin' document. Deal with it. That's something that can be taken care of by updating readers so that when the right character is hit, it inserts on your display a linefeed and quote character. This means that in the age approaching, you may be able to actually read your email from your system at home with the huge display, your PDA, and your laptop, each with different resolutions and screen sizes but at the same time be able to read your email without scrolling all over timbuktu (that's actually why Apple used this format...the company that started it, Qualcomm?...was coming up with a simple way for messages to be read on anything from regular clients to cellphone screens easily, as I recall from the FAQ on the subject).

But I'm afraid that where you choose to quote, inline, top, bottom, CANNOT be interpreted by your mail reader or any protocol. Unfortunately, that still takes intervention by the user, the person actually composing a reply. It can *encourage* it by either starting your insertion point at the top or bottom and by putting in the prefacing "On YY date so and so thus spake:" before each reply, but that's it.

Outlook has this wonderful ability to mangle headers and encourage crappy habits to being with, and should be avoided like the plague (as if the virus propagation features and bloated features included in it that most people don't use aren't enough reason).



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