Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Top posting in emails

Naturally we send emails correctly, trimming and quoting the original email, and including our replies in chronological order in plain text. It is company policy as well as common sense (IMHO).

However, the comment from someone saying they are not ignoring emails "... however we are facing difficulty in reading your reply and to find where is your reply in the mail as the format is different."

I had to read that a few times to make any sense of it. They top posted their comments, of course. Sounds like they cannot understand anything but top posted replies.

I could not possibly say who sent it, favourite or not.


  1. Personally I prefer Top Posted replies as it allows me to read the most recent content first and then only scroll down if I actually need to see the previous content.

    That said if people choose to post their replies in chronological order that is also fine with me.

    The only time It really gets messy is if you have someone who top posts and someone who does not in the same email.

  2. I think it's one our failings that the Usenet generation failed to explain proper netiquette to the rest of the world when they started to play on our internet... ;)

  3. I'm with you on this!

    I've had friends saying they struggled to read my properly formatted emails, and got upset if I sent anything but top-posted (with extra verbosity for context)... Argh!

    Email etiquette and formatting should be a required course before being allowed to use email!

  4. I don't think emailing your orc is going to work; you're always going to get replies like that. They really only do grunts, unless violence is on offer, and then they can stretch to single words.

  5. I still cannot fathom where these bizarre sorts of comments come from. Clearly the sender must not recognise their own text and cannot skip past it (formatted as quoted as it is) and see there's new text under it.

    People argue with me to this day about email formatting and how it doesn't make sense, and I ask them how they contextualise a reply to more than one query in one email and get replies such as "using numbered lists" and all sorts of weird and wonderful constructs.

    Yes, you can mess around doing that. Or you could do it properly and make it read like the conversation it is!

  6. Says he on a top-posting blog ;)

  7. Not really a good analogy, and anyway the comments are in order.

  8. I get what you are saying and yes, this is how emails "should" work, but it is not how emails "do" work, most email clients reply on top and ones that do, don't automatically scroll you to the newest message, which makes no sense at all, also if this is how emails were meant to be used then the whole conversation should be tracked and stored as one thing, not having a sent message in your sent items and then a new email for each reply, if two people reply to each other at the same time then the chronological conversation in those messages are then missing parts.

    If this is how emails were designed to be used then the user should just click reply and type away, the email client and/or mail server should keep track of the conversation and let you hide and view the conversation in the order and format you prefer.

    But it's not, we have a dumb blank sheet of digital paper to type onto, and so the rules of normal letter writing come into play.

    It is also hard to quote part of a email when to do so you need copy and paste, which as far as I know is nothing to do with any email standard, and there are lots of email devices that don't have (or didn't have) copy and paste.

    So don't blame the users, blame whoever "designed" the god awful email system we for some reason are still using.

  9. Hmmm, I have no problem using thunderbird as it presents the email, already quoted, making it easy to trim and annotate with my replies. If people use tools that are not good for sending emails then that is silly.

    What is specially odd in this case is not so much that they top post, which happens, but they seem to have no concept of even understanding a "properly formatted" email. That is what is strange.

    I *can* read top posted emails even if they do annoy me.

  10. "making it easy to trim"

    Shouldn't you be quoting the entire message if you're keeping it in the reply...

    I've just trimmed this blog post and this is what I got...

    "I cannot understand anything."

  11. Good grief!

    OK, on some mailing lists, especially legal ones, it is normal form to leave all of the original posts in place in order and add comments at the end.

    But generally you want to reduce the original to the salient points and reply to them. Not pick four words from the middle, but equally not quote everything when not necessary (especially not quoting stupid long sigs with no sig-separator).

    I.e. make the reply email one that can be read without referencing back to previous email, but makes sense in its own right.

    That is just good practice.

  12. You seem to have hit upon another computer rivaliry.

    Forget Mac or Pc
    Forget Google or Bing
    Forget Usenet or Torrents

    It's Top or Bottom replies for emails that's the important question in the world of computing!

  13. Some people are quite odd about this. I inline-quote and I know at least one person who insists on what he calls "HTML e-mail". Never quite clear about *what* HTML tags he wants...

  14. Maybe do content-type text/html and start with <PRE> and end with </PRE> :-)

  15. Some of the Mobile email clients make it rather difficult to Not top post an email.

    For instance you get to type the reply and then you get an option to include the original text or not, but you can't edit/move it.