On Sat, Sep 02, 2006 at 03:05:55AM +0900, Charles O Nutter wrote:
> 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

So does mine, but I still don't like having to switch back and forth
between emails to get context.  I'd rather read inline responses or
heavily cropped context followed by a response than have to flip back
and forth between emails while reading or, similarly annoying, have to
read the entire preceding email again before reading the response to
ensure that I will not have forgotten the context from one message to
the next.

It gets worse, though: the above annoyances assume I've bothered to keep
the preceding email locally.  If I've deleted it, I would then have to
go to the online list archive to read the preceding message -- and under
those circumstances, the threading capability of my mail user agent
doesn't come into play at all.


> 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

You talk about how great your mail client or mail user agent is, but
somehow you overlook the fact that a decent client or user agent should
provide a means to either open emails by default at the end of the text
or move to the end with a single keystroke.  Mine does that.  What's
wrong with yours?


> 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

. . . and that sounds great, except that sometimes context involves two
or three previous messages -- which gets rather ugly and difficult to
follow with top posting.  This is why inline/bottom posting tends to be
preferred in more technical lists, where people get into complex
discussions involving complex contextual references and may be using
tools other than Outlook, which seems tailor-made to sabotage technical
discussion.


> 
> 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

I don't think anyone wants your pity, just your common damned courtesy.
It's also in your best interests to avoid being too much of a chore to
read, since your words will be tossed in the direction of /dev/null more
often if people have to do things like navigate to the archives on the
web to figure out what the hell you're talking about, or scroll up and
down repeatedly within a given message, or even just switch back and
forth between messages in a threading mail or news reader.  I've deleted
entire threads on several mailing lists rather than try to navigate
through the several-contextual-layers-deep spaghetti within them.
Because English (the primary language of this list/newsgroup/whatever)
runs top-to-bottom, quoted text is easier to read top-to-bottom.  It's a
simple fact.


> 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.

It isn't "that much more difficult" -- it's just "that much more
annoying", and there's a limit to the annoyance I'll put up with for an
email from someone I've never met that doesn't directly affect my life.
Thankfully, this particular email stands without quoted context, so I
don't have to deal with it (including finding the preceding email and
rereading it for a sense of context).

I opened this email to read it.  I don't want to have to close it, open
another email, read that, close that one, then open this email again to
read it.  Worse yet, imagine that the previous email was written by
someone who assumed the same things you do.  Now I have to involve yet
another email in the chain.  Soon, I might have to read every single
email in the thread just to accomodate YOU.  You get three guesses what
I'll do with your email once I realize the amount of context-mining I
have to do in other emails, and the first two don't count.


> 
> My time is infinitely more important to me than yours.

My time is infinitely more important to me than yours, so I don't care
that you had to spend an extra three seconds trimming, and another two
seconds moving the cursor around for inserting text where needed.  More
to the point, however, I know (where you do not seem to realize this)
that if I want others to read what I have to say, it would behoove me to
accomodate them rather than simply shoving any additional time spent on
them, especially since I will not be saving much time if they reply to
me in the same fashion and I get the same treatment in return.

Perhaps your problem with realizing why people prefer not only
receiving, but SENDING, bottom/inline posted text is a failure of the
ability to plan ahead.


> 
> 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

You should be trimming whether you top- or bottom-post, anyway, so your
comments about optional context don't really support top-posting as a
preferable alternative as far as I can see.


> 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.

Right.

  1. You'd rather force other folks to burn cycles scrolling or, worse
  yet, switching between messages in the thread.

  2. Cutting and pasting?  What?  I never cut and paste.  I use the
  Enter key (or the O key, with or without the Shift key, sometimes) to
  insert lines into a message for adding response.  Where does cutting
  and pasting enter the picture?

-- 
CCD CopyWrite Chad Perrin [ http://ccd.apotheon.org ]
This sig for rent:  a Signify v1.14 production from http://www.debian.org/