The 4-line limit to E-mail Signature Blocks and Accessibility

Shlomi Fish shlomif at
Fri Mar 18 08:41:16 UTC 2011

Hi all,

The so-called "McQuary limit" for signatures says this:

[from the name of the founder of; see warlording.] 4 lines of 
at most 80 characters each, sometimes still cited on Usenet as the maximum 
acceptable size of a sig block. Before the great bandwidth explosion of the 
early 1990s, long sigs actually cost people running Usenet servers significant 
amounts of money. Nowadays social pressure against long sigs is intended to 
avoid waste of human attention rather than machine bandwidth. Accordingly, the 
McQuary limit should be considered a rule of thumb rather than a hard limit; 
it's best to avoid sigs that are large, repetitive, and distracting. See also 

Now some people have taken the rule to its letter and put signatures only 
under 4 lines. For example a typical signature (now quite old) by Hackers-IL's 
Nadav Har'El is:

Nadav Har'El                        |         Monday, Sep 6 2004, 20 Elul 5764
nyh at             |-----------------------------------------
Phone +972-523-790466, ICQ 13349191 |May you live as long as you want - and           |never want as long as you live.

I've been thinking that maybe such two-column and ASCII-art-bases signature is 
not very accessible to people using screen-readers and/or Braille-devices 
(e.g: people who are blind or otherwise sight-disabled.) and possibly has 
other accessibility issues. And I've seen much worse signatures in the olden 
days of Usenet.

Now, the format of my signature block is:

[Name]    [Homepage URL]
[Self-interetst resource that may be of Interest one line - now randomised ]
[Empty Line]
[Amusing quote - usually by myself or a friend - now also randomised.]
[Empty Line]
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I think this is the most accessible solution, and the signature is still not 
very long. I originally had the contact-me URL there as well, but figured out 
that people can always find it on my home site.

I'd like to ask the opinion of people on this list about the accessibility 
issues of this.


	Shlomi Fish

P.S: according to , I have written well 
over 100K lines of open-source source code to allow me to add 10 lines to my 
signature, above 4 lines, though I'm using much less than 14 lines for a 
signature at the moment.

Shlomi Fish
The Case for File Swapping -

When a FLOSS developer says they will work on something, he or she means 

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