electronic brain surgery since 2001

Top-Posting Like Don't I Why!

Michael Klier recently decided to shut down his blog. Luckily he provides a tarball of all his posts and used a liberal license for his contents. With his permission I will repost a few of his old blog posts that I think should remain online for their valuable information.

This post was originally posted April, 14th 2008 at chimeric.de and is licensed under the Creative Commons BY-NC-SA License.

I want to close this not so well written rant (there're far better ones on the intarweb) by saying that this is not against the people, it's against the thing itself. Top-posting may be perfectly suited for your private emails but please don't do it on mailing-lists. You will most certainly annoy a lot of people. And if someone asks you kindly to not top-post on a mailing-list, then please don't argue with them, they will not care about your arguments, you'll just end up in a killfile.

5. You're business email rules/habits don't apply to mailing-lists!

They just don't! Leave it at that!

4. If there are rules then what keeps you from following them?

Most mailing-lists have a set of posting guidelines. If that's the case and you care about what other members of the list think about you then please follow them. If there are no guidelines just check older threads in the list archive and have a look at how others reply. You may even want to search for “top-posting” in the list archive. There's a 99.9% chance that this was discussed multiple times already.

3. Argh! Where's the context?

Good email habits include thought-out quoting of context which is relevant to what you're going to answer. The important thing about that is that it also helps other people who are just following the thread to understand someones thoughts. If however one replies to a bottom-posting at the top of the mail, quoting bigger parts of text which are relevant to his/her answer, those other people will have a hard time to get the context while jumping up and down the mail text (directly caused by 1.).

2. Mixed up posting gives me headaches!

The IMHO worst thing that can happen to a mailing-list thread is when people start to mix up posting styles. Which often leads to this. If you intend to answer to an email thread and you've noticed that it's all bottom-posting then please just reply in the same manner no matter what your personal preferences are.

1. I usually read top to bottom!

And I think most of the other people living on this rock, who are able to read, do the same, no matter what direction, left-to-right or right-to-left. It's the natural way of reading things, and I can't think of any situation, drugs and stuff aside, where one would do otherwise.

First I'd like to point out that I am not one of those “I've-spent-half-of-my-life-in-the-Usenet-and-that's-why-I-don't-like-top-posting” guys. But I use email enough to get really annoyed by top-posting, especially on mailing lists. Today, is accidentally one of those days were I am really annoyed, that's why I decided to repeat some of those arguments which speak against top-posting again and add my rant to the plethora of other already available rants on the great intarweb.

In case you don't know what top-posting is, you might want to read the Wikipedia article first to get familiar with the topic. This article also only refers to mailing lists - for private mail correspondence please do whatever you prefer.
guestpost, chimeric.de, topposting, netiquette, quoting
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