Bottom vs. Top Posting (WAS: A Plea for sanity when posting to this list.)

Matthew S-H mathbymath at
Wed May 4 08:42:58 UTC 2005

That site definitely makes a good argument for why interleaved posting 
is better than top posting and it talks about the value of "snipping".  
But that has always been common knowledge.

As for snipping, I do it under the following situations:
    1.  In a highly technical thread, when lots of detail (and thus long 
e-mails) are being sent, and I feel that a lot of it is no longer 
    2.  When there is a lot of information that was included in a previous 
post that isn't needed anymore.
    3.  When the form of my reply might not be understood if I do not 
indicate exactly what I am replying to.
Snipping a quote takes time, even if usually very little.  This time 
can add up, especially on a high traffic mailing list such as this one. 
  Therefore, if there is no real need for it, I feel it is okay to skip 
it.  That way, we all have more time to give more thorough answers to 
more questions.

Now for the good ol' top vs. bottom debate...
Personally, I top-post when I am replying to an e-mail and all of the 
following conditions are met:
    1.  When the e-mail I am replying to has only one main point and I am 
replying to that point.
        a.  A perfect example of this is your e-mail, in which your main point 
was the fact that that site had "converted" you into a bottom-poster.
    2.  The thread is not technical, and can be easily understood without 
interleaved quoting.
I interleave-post whenever it is needed for clarity.

I do not agree, however with bottom posting.  It is obvious that you 
can't have a mixture of bottom posting and top posting, as it can 
convolute threads.  Here are the advantages I see of top-posting:
    1.  Most people already do it (especially the newbs who may not know to 
look on bottom for a reply).  I know, this is the good ol' "But 
everyone else does it!" excuse.  But in this case it really is 
applicable.  For either to work right, you need to convert everyone.  
It is a lot easier to convert a minority.
    2.  Bottom posting only works if you carefully snip.  As I said before, 
this can be time consuming and wasteful.
    3.  Most people don't come into a thread in the middle.  They usually 
catch on towards the beginning.  True, they may not have anything to 
say throughout the entire thread, but they usually either start reading 
it from the beginning or not at all.
    4.  It isn't that hard to read a top-posted message in chronological 
message.  You just scroll down to the bottom and start there.  It is 
similar to the fact that I have my e-mail inbox sorted in reverse 
chronological order.  This way, more recent and relevant e-mails are 
right at the beginning and are right there.
    5.  In bottom-posted e-mails, you have to scroll down and find the 
start of a new e-mail.  If a thread gets very long and you need to keep 
a lot of information (ie:  there isn't much that can be snipped without 
losing clarity), it can be take time to find the starting point.  Since 
most people in a thread have already read any previous e-mails (as I 
said before, most people don't join in mid-thread), they are thus able 
to just open the reply and start reading.  They don't have to search 
and they don't have to "review".
    6.  You can snip just as well when top-posting.  The article you showed 
us assumes that top-posters don't snip.  Just cause you top-post 
doesn't mean you don't snip.  Its just that a top-posted thread can 
remain easily viewable when it isn't snipped.
    7.  Most e-mail clients already make it easier for top-posters.  Say 
what you will about them really putting the cursor at the top so that 
you can snip, but that just isn't realistic; especially since not 
everyone spends the time to snip.  Plus, as was noted in the article, 
some e-mail clients put the signature about the quote, which would 
definitely not be done to encourage bottom-posting.  And although it is 
technically true that it is possible to just convert all of those 
e-mail clients over time, it just isn't practical.  The status quo has 
an inherent advantage.
    8.  The entire idea of a "conversation" is that you say something once 
and then a person responds.  Since, as I said before, most people 
involved in a thread have been involved since the beginning, it is only 
natural that when they get a response they don't get things repeated to 
them.  The entire idea behind bottom-posting is that it makes it easier 
to read predicate e-mails before reading the response.  If someone has 
already been following along, they don't need to have everything 
repeated.  After all, wouldn't it get annoying if after every sentence 
you said you had to give a review of the sentences before that that 
your new sentence was based on?
    9.  Also, if you consider the fact that most threads on this list only 
go a depth of 3-5 replies, digressions can usually be understood rather 
well just by looking at one or two other e-mails in quotation.

The only time I might consider bottom-posting to be an advantage as the 
norm would be on a heavily analytical mailing list.  For example, on 
mailing lists centered on political/moral/historical debates.  And, 
even then, interleaved posting is often better.

So, I personally feel that a mixture of interleaved-posting and 
top-posting is the best way (especially for this for


On May 4, 2005, at 3:12 AM, nocturn wrote:

> Matt Galvin Wrote:
>> How? I find that having the most recent reply at the top of the
>> messages makes it easy to find.
>> Its right on top, right in your face where it should be. Newest
>> content first so you can read whats new instead of having to find
>> whats new. IMHO, I prefer it this way and so does Google(and MS, and
>> Apple), in Gmail(i understand not everyone uses it)(and Outlook and
>> Mail) when replying, the cusor is positioned at the very top of the
>> message in order to top post/reply. IMHO evo is just backwards, which
>> is part of why I personally don't use it anymore.
>> Just my two cents.
>> Matt
> For a good argument about this, please read:
> It converted me a while ago!
> -- 
> nocturn
> -- 
> ubuntu-users mailing list
> ubuntu-users at
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