[Ilugc] issues with top and bottom posting

Guruprasad lgp171188 at gmail.com
Tue Jul 3 18:06:20 IST 2012


On Tue, Jul 3, 2012 at 5:53 PM, kenneth gonsalves
<lawgon at thenilgiris.com> wrote:
> On Tue, 2012-07-03 at 17:43 +0530, Shrinivasan T wrote:
>> i request you all to give your explanations on why to avoid top and
>> bottom
>> post with links and screenshots.
> full detailed explanation has been worked out over the years by many of
> us and has been posted in the mailing list guidelines which is also
> supposed to be posted to the members once a month. The said guidelines
> are available here:
> http://www.ilugc.in/content/mailinglist-guidelines

+1. Fully agree with Kenneth here. If people need more details and
spoon-feeding, here is something I used to send to newbies to educate
them regarding the list etiquette and failed miserably. Almost all of
it has been taken from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Posting_style .

"*. Posting style:
There are multiple posting styles - top posting, bottom posting and
interleaved, trimmed posting, used when replying to emails.

When you click 'reply' in your email client (web-based like Gmail, or
desktop-based like Thunderbird, Outlook), the client quotes the email
that you are replying to, in the content of your reply. Most clients
include a character like '>' at the beginning of every quoted line to
indicate that is a quote that is a part of the reply. But some clients
like Microsoft Outlook do not do it. Multiple '>' might be used to
represent multiple levels of quoting - like quoting a quoted reply,
for example.

In top posting, the reply is on top of the email and the mail that we
are replying to is quoted below. For example:

Hi Guru,
I am doing fine

Thanks & Regards,
On Tue, Apr 19, 2011 at 10:27 PM, Guruprasad <lgp171188 at gmail.com> wrote:
> Hi X,
> How are you doing?
> Thanks & Regards,
> Guruprasad

This is an example of top posting style. Top posting is generally not
recommended on mailing lists for the following reason:
1. It is not necessary to maintain the context of the conversation in
every reply, because the replies are archived. By quoting the whole
email, we are sending unnecessary data to all the subscribers which is
a waste of bandwidth.
2. Top posted emails make the recipient read the email from bottom to
top to understand the context and that is the opposite of the normal
reading direction of humans - top to bottom. This is an inconvenience
most of the times.
3. Another problem is that top-posters often word their replies on the
assumption that you just read the previous message, even though their
perversity has put it further down the page than you have yet read.
4. Top posts contain cascaded replies below and the content to which
the poster is replying is not clear.

In bottom posting, the reply is placed below the quote of the mail to
which we are replying. This is slightly better than top posting but
the problems with bottom posting are:

1. The reply to a lengthy email could just be one small sentence at
the end. Having to scroll through the whole length of the long quote
just to read one sentence is irritating for a lot of people.
2. Also we are unnecessarily quoting a lot of text to which our reply
is not pertaining to. This leads to wasted bandwidth again.
3. Also irrespective of which part of the email we are replying to,
the reply is always below the quote, which can some times make it
ambiguous on which part of the email is the reply pertaining to.

Example of bottom posting:

At 10.01am Wednesday, Danny wrote:
> At 9.40am Wednesday, Jim wrote:
>> I'm going to suspend the mail service for approx. thirty
>> minutes tonight, starting at 5pm, to install some updates
>> and important fixes.

> Whoa!  Hold on.  I have a job scheduled at 5:30 which mails out
> a report to key tech staff.  Could you push it back an hour?
> By the way, which systems will be updated? I had some network
> problems after last week's update.  Will I have to reboot?

No problems. 6pm it is then.

Basically, I will update our WWW server and firewall.
No, you won't have to reboot.

In interleaved posting style, the reply is placed just below the part
of the email that we are replying to. For example if there are 3
paragraphs in the email that you are replying to and you are replying
to the 1st paragraph, the reply is placed below the 1st paragraph and
above the remaining quote. This gives a natural, conversational style
to the reply and it is easier to follow the conversation when this
style is used. There is still the problem of unnecessarily quoting the
2nd and 3rd paragraphs, even though we are not replying to them. This
again wastes bandwidth in a mailing list because irrelevant content is
unnecessarily sent to all the members of the mailing list. So the
irrelevant quoted parts are trimmed to ensure our reply contains only
our reply to the quoted parts to which we are replying to. This is the
best way of posting to mailing lists.

Example of interleaved, trimmed posting:

I have been following the discussion about the new product line. Here
are my thoughts.

Joe wrote:

> Will our prices be competitive?

That may not be a problem for now, we still have a quality edge.

> We do not have enough trained people on the West Coast. We have many
> new employees but they do not know our products yet.

We can bring them here for a crash training course.

Mary wrote:

> We still do not have a clear marketing plan.

Peter, would you take charge of that? Let me know if you need help.

On the whole, I am quite optimistic.  It looks like we will be shipping
the basic system before the end of this quarter.

HTH :)

Thanks & Regards,

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