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From Ross Gardler <>
Subject Top posting is bad
Date Fri, 30 Sep 2011 08:46:36 GMT
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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