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Lord Yupa

February 2010

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Lord Yupa

Top Posting vs. Bottom Posting.

For those of you who don't spend a lot of time with mailing lists and newsgroups, you might not be familiar with this debate.

Basically, top posting is when you reply to a post/e-mail/etc by quoting the entire thing, with your response on top. It's annoying, can be difficult to understand, and considered improper netiquette.

Bottom posting is where you go through the document you're responding to, and trim out what isn't relevant, placing your responses under each quoted section as appropriate. It adds context to your reply, making it much easier to read and understand. And, by removing the unnecessary parts of the original document, you're reducing the bandwidth and disk space required.

Many people these days do top posting, because certain crappy e-mail programs (specifically Outlook and Outlook Express, though they are by *no* means the only culprits) default to placing the cursor at the top of a response e-mail, while quoting the entire original message below it. Today I came across one of the best quotes I've seen for why that alone is not a good reason to 'top post'.

Posting at the top because that's where the cursor happened to be is like shitting in your pants because that's where your asshole happened to be.

I think that about sums it up.


Heh, ok, that was probably the most amusing quote I've seen on the topic.

I do have to say, though, that top posting actually does make sense sometimes. It's slowly becoming the de facto standard in business correspondence and some other situations, and it can actually be pretty useful sometimes. The nice thing about it is that it makes following the chain of responses very easy; when you're trying to follow a thread and establish who said what and when (and where and how, just so I've covered them all ;) ), it can be much more effective. With top posting, you don't need to delete the history to continue the conversation.

In personal emails I do "interstitial" replies (I have no idea what the actual term is) as I like to be able to reply directly to each statement/sentence/whatever, but it requires a.) more effort and b.) cleanup. You can't effectively write this way without deleting everything past one or two replies back, and that leaves no history for those entering the conversation later, for instance if you want to forward something to an authority to get their attention.

It's sort of like full backups vs. differential backups; differentials are a lot more efficient, but trying to recreate the full dataset from them is a lot more difficult. In business, having an accurate picture of the entire conversation is often worth the waste.

So in short, I'm actually a fan of both styles, depending simply on which seems more appropriate for the situation. :)
In the banking industry (where I work), every single person posts their reply at the top and then quotes the email below it. It's not bad netiquette -- it's the de facto standard. If I started posting at the bottom and people replied with posts at the top, the entire thread would become impossible to follow.

What you posted is right for non-corporate mailing lists, message boards, and generally dealing with "old school" internet users.
Preach on, brother!

I read this.

I have found this post very interesting.
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