[K12OSN] Bottom post

Jeff Kinz jkinz at kinz.org
Mon Sep 27 15:41:33 UTC 2004

I'm sorry Jay, Sudev is correct about email posting to a list.

On Mon, Sep 27, 2004 at 10:45:08AM -0400, Jay Pfaffman wrote:
> It's not clear that everyone (or even most people) prefers to see
> reponses below the quoted text.  

If you take a look at all the other email lists hosted by RedHat (Like
this one is) You will see that bottom posting is the universal
preference on their lists (as well as most other non-trivial lists)
(you get your bottom roasted for top posting on some of them!)

Bottom posting (interleaving) on email lists is a matter of basic
courtesy for your fellow list members. Not doing it shows a distinct
lack of regard for their time, effort and value.

Here's why:
When posting to an email list you are "conversing" with hundreds of
other people who are following multiple threads of "conversation"
simultaneously and therefore cannot follow the thread of your
conversation unless the dialog is presented in the correct order with

Top posting forces the many to hunt up and down in the email to find the
points being referred to so they can follow the flow of the logic in the

So, your lack of effort is multiplied and transferred to many many other
people who really shouldn't have to make up for your lack of effort.

When having a person to person email dialog, top posting is fine.

> Often people are actually following
> the conversation and don't need to see the quoted text (since they
> just read the other message).  

Email is not a real time activity, most people are not following the 
conversation as it is posted.  Many people do the right thing and
research an issue before they ask about it and read the thread in the
mail list archives. They need bottom posting.

> Then it's a drag to have to scroll down
> through the quoted text, which likely includes lots of stuff not
> concerning the conversation at hand and a 15 line signature.

That is not bottom posting. That is stone cold laziness. If you have
to scroll past anyone's sig to read a response then don't bother. The
person who posted it has no respect for your time and doesn't deserve
your attention. Plonk them. (plonking means to add a name to your kill
file).  Always remember that proper email list posting means interleaving
and trimming the fat!

> But all that to say that I've started reading this list using gmail,

Very few people have gmail, and many won't use it at all due to 
privacy concerns.  Indeed, the more technically sophisticated the 
person, the less likely they are to use gmail or any form of web-mail.

> and since it keeps conversations grouped together (the way a good
> newsreader did in the days before Spammers destroyed USENET) quoted
> text is largely unneccessary.

Ahem - USENET is where bottom posting originated.  It was very
necessary.  Some people wouldn't get articles for days after the a
posting.  Time was an even more severe issue.
You can take a vote if you want. I can tell you exactly how the votes break
down: Newbies new to technical email lists want top posting. People who
have been using technical lists a while prefer "bottom posting". The
core issue is courtesy. (In the form of respect for people's time)

This issue was discussed passionately many times in the early days of
the Internet and the final consensus was that bottom posting,
(Interleaving), had the greatest good for the greatest number.

[[Here is the Internet Engineering standard document which covers
this issue: http://www.faqs.org/rfcs/rfc1855.html
See the section on "One To Many Communication" (Chapter 3, page 7)
(Or read my summary below:)]]

People's time is important. a properly formatted email response
on an email list includes no extra garbage and does not require anyone
to scroll down to start reading the response.  Only enough of the
original email should be included to provide the context which the
response applies to. So called "bottom posting" is misnamed.  It should be
called "Interleaved posting" or "after posting".  This allows a person
who is not following the email thread in real time to still understand

How?  As I am doing here, I post my response to your points interleaved
after each point you make, and I DELETE everything which is not part of
the dialog.  This keeps the flow of the conversation intact.  Since many
people do not read the email list in real time this is the most
efficient way for them to receive the information.

Linux/Open Source.  Now all your base belongs to you, for free.
Idealism:  "Realism applied over a longer time period"

Jeff Kinz, Emergent Research, Hudson, MA.

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