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From "Dennis E. Hamilton" <>
Subject RE: Top posting is bad
Date Fri, 30 Sep 2011 12:18:12 GMT
The assumption behind this recommendation seems to be that all 
mail clients are the same and the list is read the same by 
everyone.  I already *manually* truncate lines to match the 
line-width of the sender.  I prefer text flow of paragraphing 
among those whose clients and list archives handle it properly.  
So I do not turn on hard line-chopping.  I am doing it manually 
right now to be polite.  I appreciate that people don't complain 
when I fail to do that here.

To tell me to not to top post from a client that doesn't have ">"
marking turned on or even available just makes a mess.  See how
Ross's post appears to me and consider what would happen if I
blithely commented in line.

LibreOffice users have this flame war monthly.  I get schooled by
NoOp regularly.  If it happens here, I am freakin' leavin'.

Also, the fact that not everyone reads the archive the same way,
but use NNTP synthesizers, such as GMane, just creates mystery 
meat for those of us who have no idea what those users are seeing 
(or producing).  To then be schooled by them is unacceptable.

Also, there has already been the discussion about thread 
preservation (even though people continue threads without 
changing topics so it is hardly a reliable process anyhow).  

[People who use NNTP readers see the threads in expando-views and
have no need for the context, so they are infuriated by the 
repetition.  There are clueless ones who think there is some sort
of statutory requirement to keep full threads, even though this is
an archived list and that is subject to all the discovery one would
care to be exposed to.]

"bad" may be "unpleasant for you" but how about looking at the 
interoperability challenges and not encouraging belief that there
is a silver-bullet, one-size fits all fiat when the only thing
that works is civility.

[NOTE: This post has been filtered to incivility level -3.  Your 
mileage may vary.  No neutrinos were harmed in the making of this 
post.  Good luck if your required line-width is narrower than this.]

 - Dennis

-----Original Message-----
From: Ross Gardler [] 
Sent: Friday, September 30, 2011 01:47
Subject: Top posting is bad

At the risk of starting a flame-war I am going to state that
top-posting is bad on publicly archived mailing lists. Can we please
stop doing it?

It is very difficult to understand what is going on in a mailing list,
especially the archives, if it is common practice to top-post rather
than reply inline.

The problem is that one has to go back to the beginning of a thread to
get a grasp of the context of a discussion. Top posting assumes that
everyone has read every word up until that post. Very often this is
not the case. Very often people dip into a thread half way through.
Either because they have been busy for a few hours whilst the
discussion progressed or because they got to the message via an
archive search.

Replying inline with careful cutting of no longer relevant content
(this is the hard part), retains context and allows people to
understand the main gist of what is being said. If someone is looking
for the answer to a question in the archives, this context will tell
them if the answer provide is for the question they are asking (in
fact inline posting makes most search engines more accurate too as a
result of proximity matching). If the person is dipping in to an
ongoing thread the context can tell them how far back they need to
read in order to understand the current position.

I realise that some people disagree with this and prefer top posting.
However, in ASF projects it is generally accepted that top posting is
bad. Other environments are good for top posting, but ASF projects are


Ross Gardler (@rgardler)
Programme Leader (Open Development)

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