Hi,

Last year, Tom Christiansen used to post the following item on
comp.lang.perl.misc every few days. Hopefully that will never happen
here. (Please don't tempt him. :-) However, even though I think this
diatribe is excessively stringent and too hard core, I think it
nevertheless provides a useful reminder of what reply order is generally
preferred and highly recommended. 

====================================================================
    EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: 

To send better messages, please trim and summarize what you're
replying to, and integrate your quoted text with the body of your
message. Don't just put everything at the end. This isn't Jeopardy.
People expect question-and-answer, not answer-and-question responses. 
 
    LONG STORY:
 
Wouldn't you like to make your messages easier for others to read and
understand? If so, I have some news posting tips for you. If not, just
ignore this. (Of course, if you don't want your messages easier to
read and understand, it's not clear why you bother to send them in the
first place. :-) I'm going to take a bit of time to explain this,
because newcomers to Usenet often lack the cultural background were I
to send a superbrief message. 
 
Here's the issue: you appear to have quoted the entire message to
which you were replying. Worst of all, you have done so by merely
appending the complete message at the bottom. Folks are used to
reading the original material first, then the follow-up. That's why
it's called a "follow-up", you know. :-)
 
If all you want to do is forward a copy of the message, that's one
thing, but here you seem to have just blindly pasted the complete old
message at the end without providing any content. This is neither a
proper public followup nor even a decent private reply. Here's why.
 
First of all, this is massive overkill -- you're supposed to trim your
quoted text to only what you're replying to. Otherwise you'll probably
violate the netiquette target quoting percentage of 50%. See below.
This isn't really an issue of space (I know that a few bytes here and
there mean less today than 20 years go), so much as it is of
integrating your comments with the old material for continuity.
 
Second, putting everything at the bottom does little good. It doesn't
provide the proper context. It's far too late. When you reply to
someone's content, the reason you quote the previous message is so
that you can provide some degree of contextual continuity. The best
way to do this is to interleave what you're quoting with your
responses to that particular piece. That means that you should provide
a quoted portion, then address what the points therein, then another
quoted section, etc. 
 
For example, here's how followup replies *should* look if you'd like
them to be more effective.
  
     > Joe said we should eat noodles.
  
     But I don't like noodles.  They are a pain to prepare -- remember
     that what started this thread was how to cook using only a
     microwave, not real cooking -- and they provide you with very
     little sustenance in the long run.  It's like eating
     cardboard, nutritionally speaking. 
  
     > He also suggests adding anchovies.
  
     What is this fish fetish?  Not all of us like the little minnows
     with the lingering briny taste swimming around our mouths for the
     next few hours or days.  Can you imagine this on a date?
     Iccccch! 
  
Notice how in the text above, alternate quoted passages are
interleaved with new response text.  Notice also that the new text far
exceeds the old text.  This is the way it should be.
  
If you are receiving this message in response to a news posting,
please understand that all modern newsreaders provide a mechanism to
fetch the parent article, so it is seldom necessary to quote the whole
thing. Sometimes even mail readers provide this, depending on the mail
headers and the list archival mechanism on your own system.
  
Here's a section from the essential netiquette guide, "A Primer on How
to Work With the Usenet Community", which is available in
news.announce.newusers.  Perhaps your service provider neglected to
point you at this newsgroup before you got swallowed up by all of
Usenet. It's not only a good read; it's critical to understanding the
culture you're now moving in.
  
     Summarize What You are Following Up.
  
When you are following up someone's article, please summarize the
parts of the article to which you are responding. This allows readers
to appreciate your comments rather than trying to remember what the
original article said. It is also possible for your response to get to
some sites before the original article.
 
Summarization is best done by including appropriate quotes from the
original article. Do not include the entire article since it will
irritate the people who have already seen it. Even if you are
responding to the entire article, summarize only the major points you
are discussing.
 
It's even more annoying when people needlessly quote the original's
automatic trailing matter, like signatures, adverts, or disclaimers.
Please don't do that.
====================================================================

-- 
Conrad Schneiker
(This note is unofficial and subject to improvement without notice.)