Comments on: Email Netiquette - Part 1 https://pthree.org/2010/09/18/email-netiquette-part-1/ Linux. GNU. Freedom. Fri, 25 May 2018 03:28:18 +0000 hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.0-alpha-43307 By: nah https://pthree.org/2010/09/18/email-netiquette-part-1/#comment-122976 Thu, 10 Jan 2013 07:44:19 +0000 http://pthree.org/?p=1426#comment-122976 A.Y. Siu: you should use a newsreader instead for mailing lists. Subscribe to the list through gmane.org's nntp service (and if the mailing list needs to be subscribed to in order to post to it, subscribe with no email delivery). That way you never get mailing lists into your email, but can still read them, and they stay out of your way.

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By: nah https://pthree.org/2010/09/18/email-netiquette-part-1/#comment-122975 Thu, 10 Jan 2013 07:41:23 +0000 http://pthree.org/?p=1426#comment-122975 btw, if you use K9 mail on Android, it can be set to bottom post.

But really, what it boils down to is: write your answer after the question! If you're replying to the whole thing, I don't see any argument for top vs bottom, but if there are a bunch of questions, this kind of top-posted reply is really unreadable:

Yes.
No.
With sugar.

Alice wrote:
> Should I get some more food?
> And perhaps some muffins?
> How do you like your coffee?

vs

Alice wrote:
> Should I get some more food?

Yes.

> And perhaps some muffins?

No.

> How do you like your coffee?

With sugar.

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By: nah https://pthree.org/2010/09/18/email-netiquette-part-1/#comment-122974 Thu, 10 Jan 2013 07:35:28 +0000 http://pthree.org/?p=1426#comment-122974 Could you give your headers anchors so it's possible to link to them? (Also, perhaps link directly from your TOC to each page/#header).

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By: James https://pthree.org/2010/09/18/email-netiquette-part-1/#comment-111397 Thu, 23 Sep 2010 23:59:16 +0000 http://pthree.org/?p=1426#comment-111397 Almost nobody sends emails with line breaks at 80
characters. It makes
assumptions which may not be true. What if the recipient
has bad eyesight and
uses a large font in their email client? Or is viewing the
message on a mobile
device? If they use a good email client in these
situations, then they might not
notice at all. Or they might have to deal with each line
wrapping awkwardly.
(like this). I'm a fan of just letting the client sort
things out.

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By: Sebastian https://pthree.org/2010/09/18/email-netiquette-part-1/#comment-111335 Mon, 20 Sep 2010 21:35:58 +0000 http://pthree.org/?p=1426#comment-111335 bottom posting is ridiculous, and I strongly disagree. The reason it has become widespread is because nobody wants to scroll through pages of misformatted jibber jabber and intended emails before getting to the actual content of the email that is relevant, which is the actual reply. so that goes on top.

in a way however, you are right, because when it turns into a conversation, it gets confusing. that is where threading-powered clients and applications have an advantage, as you dont have to include the entire email conversation into the message quotation...

difficult stuff

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By: Aaron https://pthree.org/2010/09/18/email-netiquette-part-1/#comment-111327 Mon, 20 Sep 2010 13:50:06 +0000 http://pthree.org/?p=1426#comment-111327 @Steve I'm not sure why line breaks are being consumed. It seems to be happening to a few people. I thought I had it narrowed down to just Firefox 3.6.9 users on Ubuntu, but with you using Google Chrome, that appears to not be the case. I have seen other Ubuntu users get the line breaks inserted. So, I can't say for sure that I know what is going on. I'll keep an eye out for it though. Sorry for the headache.

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By: Aaron https://pthree.org/2010/09/18/email-netiquette-part-1/#comment-111319 Mon, 20 Sep 2010 09:25:11 +0000 http://pthree.org/?p=1426#comment-111319 @Paul Rouget- If we want to get pedantic, the format for the "sigdashes" should be:

\n-- \n

where "\n" is the newline character.

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By: Paul Rouget https://pthree.org/2010/09/18/email-netiquette-part-1/#comment-111318 Mon, 20 Sep 2010 09:20:19 +0000 http://pthree.org/?p=1426#comment-111318 For the signature, what about “–– Paul” (not \n after the separator)?

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By: Aaron https://pthree.org/2010/09/18/email-netiquette-part-1/#comment-111303 Sun, 19 Sep 2010 16:02:49 +0000 http://pthree.org/?p=1426#comment-111303 @Alan Pope- What's arrogant about asking people to reply in a manner that causes people to read text in a normal manner? What's arrogant about asking people to configure their client, or heaven forbid, move the text cursor, so the reply is at end end of the message? The arrogance comes from the person sending the reply thinking I want to read his comment first, before understand the context of the reply.

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By: A.Y. Siu https://pthree.org/2010/09/18/email-netiquette-part-1/#comment-111301 Sun, 19 Sep 2010 15:41:50 +0000 http://pthree.org/?p=1426#comment-111301

@A.Y Siu- Your top-posting assumes that I want to read the thread from bottom-to-top, a convoluted way of reading threaded conversations. Please check out every other Internet protocol that supports conversations. It’s practically universally unanimous. Bottom-posting is the way we read. It makes zero sense to put the reply at the top.

I'm saying your advice sounds great for mailing lists, but what regular emails to your friends and family? I don't think of emails to friends and families as "threaded conversations." I want to read their reply. Anything quoted below is just a reminder in case I forgot what we were talking about.

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By: Alan Pope https://pthree.org/2010/09/18/email-netiquette-part-1/#comment-111300 Sun, 19 Sep 2010 15:05:13 +0000 http://pthree.org/?p=1426#comment-111300 @Alan Pope- Meh. I had made a comparison that gave that phrase accurate context, but ended up taking the analogy out, and left the “right-to-left” in. Fixed. Also, thank you for the other edit. In regards to Android phones, or other devices that don’t bottom-post by default, maybe they should fix their client? Or use a client that doesn’t assume I want to read your reply first, before reading the context?

Well done. That's exactly the arrogance I was talking about. "Fix your client!". It's a _phone_ with a mail app shipped on the firmware. There is no source, it's a google closed source mail client.

You're sounding more and more like comic book guy from the simpsons with each blog post.

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By: Aaron Toponce : Email Netiquette – Part 2 https://pthree.org/2010/09/18/email-netiquette-part-1/#comment-111297 Sun, 19 Sep 2010 13:14:53 +0000 http://pthree.org/?p=1426#comment-111297 [...] }Email Netiquette – Part 2This is the second in a series of four. The first can be found at http://pthree.org/2010/09/18/email-netiquette-part-1/. Continuing our discussion from the previous post, I’ll expound on points four through six in [...]

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By: notzed https://pthree.org/2010/09/18/email-netiquette-part-1/#comment-111294 Sun, 19 Sep 2010 03:36:16 +0000 http://pthree.org/?p=1426#comment-111294 You're about a decade too late on most of this. Especially wrt to html or 'wrap at 80 columns' - actually using 'plain html' is more useful since it lets the client render word-wrapping whilst maintaining paragraphs. Plain text isn't as simple as you believe it to be either. But the main problem with explicit html usage is just that it invariable leads to unreadable emails since nobody knows how to use it and outlook generates such horrible html.

And top posting isn't really evil - bottom posting is worse if the quoting is equivalent. I prefer top or mixed and I suspect the only reason bottom posting was the convention is that is where the original email clients traditionally put the cursor. And for no other good reason.

Stop fussing with ancient technical trivialities that were discussed to death decades ago. Netiquette should be more about treating others with respect, keeping posts on topic on specialist mailing lists, not nagging or re-asking the same questions, not mis-quoting to push a given view, starting new threads rather than replying to them, and remembering they are public places.

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By: Links 18/9/2010: GNU/Linux in Dell China, Wine 1.3.3, Mageia (Mandriva Fork) Launched | Techrights https://pthree.org/2010/09/18/email-netiquette-part-1/#comment-111293 Sun, 19 Sep 2010 01:14:47 +0000 http://pthree.org/?p=1426#comment-111293 [...] Email Netiquette – Part 1 As with top-posting, not trimming your replies is lazy, and again, it’s rude. Some people don’t have the hard drive space you might, or the bandwidth to pull down such a noisy message. Cutting out the cruft, leaving the relevant pieces in, is considerate, polite and logically sound. Do you, and everyone else a favor, and trim your replies. [...]

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By: Aaron https://pthree.org/2010/09/18/email-netiquette-part-1/#comment-111292 Sun, 19 Sep 2010 00:34:06 +0000 http://pthree.org/?p=1426#comment-111292 @Steve- This is what you get for writing one large post, then cutting out into 4 separate posts. The argument for an 80 character-wide email is coming in a subsequent post. Sorry for that. However, I'll give you the low-down here:

Keep the width of your message under 80 characters.
This might sound like an odd netiquette rule, but wrapping your message at 80 characters makes it easier for the recipient to read your message. In fact, the psychology department at Witchita State University did a study on this very thing. Which is better for reading text? Long columns of text or shorter columns? The results of the survey showed that people could read faster with greater accuracy and have better comprehension with two-column justified text than three-column (too short) or one-column (too long).

Translating this to email, people don't want to read lengthy columns of text. When you wrap your text to a shorter justification, but not too short, as the study shows, it's easier for the reader to comprehend what you're talking about, and they can read through the text quicker. Major publishers know this as well. Pick up your favorite novel, and count the number of characters on a single line. I have a paperback copy of Frankenstein, by Mary Shelley, and each line is wrapped at exactly 60 characters. I have another paperback copy of Macbeth, by Shakespeare. Each line wraps at exactly 50 characters. Looking through all my novels, I'm actually struggling to find a book that has more than 85 characters on a single line. The Debian System, written by Martin Krafft, wraps at 85 characters.

The standardized accepted practice for email, is to actually wrap your email text at 72-75 columns. This gives enough room for others to reply to your message, which will usually prepend the two characters "> " to your original message, and still keep the length of the mail under 80 characters. As would be expected, Microsoft Outlook seems to struggle with this when writing emails initially, but can be configured to wrap at 80 characters for replies.

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By: Tack https://pthree.org/2010/09/18/email-netiquette-part-1/#comment-111290 Sat, 18 Sep 2010 23:30:11 +0000 http://pthree.org/?p=1426#comment-111290 I should add: on mailing lists, the proper format is meticulous pruning of quoted text with inline responses. I think everyone will agree there. 🙂

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By: Tack https://pthree.org/2010/09/18/email-netiquette-part-1/#comment-111289 Sat, 18 Sep 2010 23:27:53 +0000 http://pthree.org/?p=1426#comment-111289 I used to be vehemently anti-top-posting. I've come to actually appreciate top-posting in corporate environments -- not as a sort of resigned laissez-faire attitude that you suggest, but actually as the optimal way to format your emails in that environment.

1. People get added and removed constantly from threads, as the discussion develops. New people who are added need the full context, so pruning of quoted text is very unhelpful.

2. People at work use mobile devices extensively (and not just because the company I work at manufactures a particular kind of mobile device). The top-posting format makes sense there, especially when replying, as the quoted body needn't be transmitted over the air, just a reference to it. This is a useful bandwidth savings measure.

I've always found bottom posting without any pruning of quoted text to be seriously obnoxious. No email client that I'm aware of anyway will automatically scroll to the start of the reply in a bottom-posted email. Unless I've just been added to a thread and want to read the whole thing, it means I must scroll to the bottom manually for each message.

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By: Steve https://pthree.org/2010/09/18/email-netiquette-part-1/#comment-111288 Sat, 18 Sep 2010 19:46:27 +0000 http://pthree.org/?p=1426#comment-111288 Oops, seemed to lose all my paragraph breaks in my reply. Did I need something more than a couple of line breaks?

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By: Steve https://pthree.org/2010/09/18/email-netiquette-part-1/#comment-111287 Sat, 18 Sep 2010 19:43:52 +0000 http://pthree.org/?p=1426#comment-111287 @Aaron Where's the argument for wrapping at 80 characters? I don't see it making sense unless you use a pure-text system. IMHO text should wrap to fit the size of screen or window you are using. My phone screen is less than 80 wide and may show proportional fonts anyway.

I have to put up with Outlook at work and people have no idea how to structure emails and replies. You end up with long to-posted threads which are really hard to follow.I don't subscribe to many mailing lists as I just don't have time to keep up with them. I tend to use more web systems like forums so I can dip in when I have some time.

I learnt a bit about kmail templates when mine stopped working recently. I've restored the defaults, which use bottom-posting. You can put the cursor wherever you want in a reply.

@Flimm I like the idea of email with minimal encoding for formatting. html is OTT for most emails.email is one of the oldest and most widely used protocols still in common use. Changing it is going to be difficult. Google tried to offer an alternative in Wave, but many are reluctant to change.

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By: Paul Kishimoto https://pthree.org/2010/09/18/email-netiquette-part-1/#comment-111286 Sat, 18 Sep 2010 19:04:55 +0000 http://pthree.org/?p=1426#comment-111286 Thanks for this great post — now I can link you instead of retyping the same points over and over.I like Evolution because it obviates some of the few cases you give for using HTML mail. It will compose bulleted or numbered lists, indents, centering or right alignment in plain text mail, then add the appropriate padding with spaces when the message is sent.

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By: Aaron https://pthree.org/2010/09/18/email-netiquette-part-1/#comment-111285 Sat, 18 Sep 2010 16:57:44 +0000 http://pthree.org/?p=1426#comment-111285 @mc You didn't read the argument about why you should wrap at 80 characters, did you? It has nothing to do with code. It has everything to do with readability, comprehension and accuracy. Read the argument, then get back to us.

@Alan Pope- Meh. I had made a comparison that gave that phrase accurate context, but ended up taking the analogy out, and left the "right-to-left" in. Fixed. Also, thank you for the other edit. In regards to Android phones, or other devices that don't bottom-post by default, maybe they should fix their client? Or use a client that doesn't assume I want to read your reply first, before reading the context?

@Flimm- Yes, Evolution and Thunderbird both, by default, bottom-post. I use both. I'm familiar with their default behavior and characteristics.

@A.Y Siu- Your top-posting assumes that I want to read the thread from bottom-to-top, a convoluted way of reading threaded conversations. Please check out every other Internet protocol that supports conversations. It's practically universally unanimous. Bottom-posting is the way we read. It makes zero sense to put the reply at the top.

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By: A.Y. Siu https://pthree.org/2010/09/18/email-netiquette-part-1/#comment-111284 Sat, 18 Sep 2010 16:40:54 +0000 http://pthree.org/?p=1426#comment-111284 I hate mailing lists and almost never subscribe to them. When I do, I make sure they get filtered to an appropriate subfolder of my email I almost never read.

It sounds as if you know what you're talking about with regard to mailing list emails. (I'll take your word for it.)

For regular emails, though, I like to read replies at the top of the message, not at the bottom, because the reply is usually what I want to read. The quoted text below provides some more context in case I need some reminding about what was said beforehand. Most email conversations I have are not in the question-answer-question-answer format.

I do prefer to get emails in plain text, but the only real limitation I see isn't the lack of tables and images (no need for those in emails)—it's the lack of bold and italics. Asterisks and underscores just do not provide the same effect.

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By: Flimm https://pthree.org/2010/09/18/email-netiquette-part-1/#comment-111283 Sat, 18 Sep 2010 16:38:46 +0000 http://pthree.org/?p=1426#comment-111283 "Thunderbird or Evolution, which encourage bottom-posting by default"

No they don't. Evolution doesn't. I'm pretty sure Thunderbird doesn't either.

Personally, I feel the whole system of email is broken. If I had a blog, I'd write about it. Here are what email 2.0 would have in my dreams:
- encryption (not even by default, but by obligation)
- not HTML, but basic rich text, like BBCode or something
- no artifical 80 character limit
- an interface based on conversations, rather than an inbox and an outbox. This would eliminate the need to copy the whole message in a reply.
- no hotlinking. All external data must be included as an attachment.
- standardised contact details, easily shared
- whitelisting by default. You'd have to maintain a list of friends, like on social networks or IM.

Newsletters would have their own implementation. They would be similar to RSS, but with privacy in mind. There would be one standardised way to subscribe and unsubscribe, like with RSS feeds.

Mailing lists would have their own implementation as well, with standardised ways of subscribing and unsubscribing.

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By: Stéphan K. https://pthree.org/2010/09/18/email-netiquette-part-1/#comment-111282 Sat, 18 Sep 2010 16:33:08 +0000 http://pthree.org/?p=1426#comment-111282 I'm a strong advocate of forwarding as attachment. It allows the receiver to properly reply to the forwarded message. (The reply will then include proper message IDs and other headers.)Perhaps I feel this way because I've only seen this in work related mail. I'm not sure how mailing lists cope with this. But I personally don't see why someone would ever assume the receiver of a forwarded message would not want to reply to said message.Besides, I have yet to see a mailing list message that includes a forward. The best I've seen is a cross posted reply.

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By: Alan Pope https://pthree.org/2010/09/18/email-netiquette-part-1/#comment-111281 Sat, 18 Sep 2010 15:54:33 +0000 http://pthree.org/?p=1426#comment-111281 Could have done with more refining before you sent it.

"When reading English, you read right-to-left, top-to-bottom. "

You might, I don't. I read English left-to-right, like everyone else.

"Keep you signature under five lines, and use the signature separator “– ” (dash, dash, space)."

s/you/your/

"Top-posting is lazy. Just because your client puts some extra carriage returns before the original text, and starts your cursor at the top, does not mean it’s acceptable. Press your delete key a few times, then press CTRL+END to get your cursor to the END of the message, and start typing there. We’re talking 3-4 keystrokes for appropriately replying to email."

Some devices have no control key, some don't actually even quote the previous message, but just dump you at the top and let you type directly there. Android shipped on many phones does this. To argue that top posting is arrogant without taking into account people who have (buggy) email clients (they can't change) is, well, arrogant.

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By: mc https://pthree.org/2010/09/18/email-netiquette-part-1/#comment-111280 Sat, 18 Sep 2010 15:35:33 +0000 http://pthree.org/?p=1426#comment-111280 A nice set of guidelines, except...

"Keep the width of your message under 80 characters"
Pre-empting your explanation, just... No.

This rule is ridiculous. Email is not code. Pandering to a tiny subset of users who read email in a situation where this would be helpful is of minuscule benefit compared to making the formatting awkward for everyone else using sane email clients, web mail, smartphones, etc.

I do not want unnecessary line breaks just because some people's email clients are outdated, and expecting everyone to cater to your odd requirements is rude.

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