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I've become far more comfortable and used to top-posting in almost all
correspondence primarily because the threading capabilities of my
mailreaders works almost flawlessly. The general argument I have for
top-posting is that scanning all messages in a thread is far easier if you
top-post, since I don't have to read through the same context again and
again in each following message. In an ideal world, everyone would have all
the contextual emails or posts available and neatly threaded and each
message would only contain content germane to that response, as this message
does (with quoted text from previous responses available as needed). If
everyone had a perfectly-threaded reader, that would work fine, as it does
on well-threaded forums where quoting previous messages is usually optional
and the UI handles visually organizing posts where appropriate.

An additional argument for top-posting is that I can immediately read the
response without having to scan through what is sometimes dozens of lines of
context I've already read. The idea that every email should provide full
context or even require partial context is asinine, and I have no pity for
someone missing a message in the sequence. Especially in the case of
top-posting, it's not that much more difficult to scan previous responses
from bottom to top. Look at my email...it says "Re: something". Go look for
the "something" email and subsequent replies. Your flawed client is not my
problem.

Most clients also do not appropriately bottom-post (as in, don't "stupid
post" by just putting text at the bottom) without manual intervention. When
I'm receiving hundreds of emails a day I want to respond to, bottom-posting
and trimming context easily triples the time to deal with each...or worse.
If I can hit reply, type my two sentences, and send it off, I get more done.
My time is infinitely more important to me than yours.

In practice I see the value of bottom posting, and even when I top-post I
frequently will say "see comments inline below". I don't see the original
quote as being part of a conversation...rather I see it as providing
optional context when a response is general (as when I top-post) or
mandatory context when referring to specific passages (as when I bottom-post
or "inline comment"). I think we're all smart enough to either keep up with
a thread, read through the top-posts in our reader of choice, or (god
forbid!) read from the bottom up so other folks don't have to burn cycles
cutting and pasting.

-- 
Contribute to RubySpec! @ www.headius.com/rubyspec
Charles Oliver Nutter @ headius.blogspot.com
Ruby User @ ruby.mn
JRuby Developer @ www.jruby.org

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