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

Russell Cook ruscook_oz at
Wed May 4 09:36:36 UTC 2005

Some good arguments Matthew, I'd like to support with the following

A top post is useful for short emails on a single or small number of 
topics. I hate opening a message scrolling to the bottom of a long 
message to see a "me too" comment, when I'm scanning the list.

I guess, in the spirit of Ubuntu and tolerance each approach has their 
place and we should use them where appropriate and drop the religous 
overzealous  approach.


Matthew S-H wrote:

> I would just like to add a few more things based on this e-mail and a 
> few more that I forgot to mention in my last e-mail.
> 1. My last e-mail is a good example of where either an interleaved 
> reply or a top-posted reply would be perfect.
> a. You could interleave-post if you wanted to reply to each of my 
> points individually and refute, deny, or agree with them (hopefully 
> agree :) ).
> b. You could top-post if you wanted to make a general comment and then 
> continue with your own points. For example, if you agreed with me and 
> just wanted to add some more reasons for why top-posting is better.
> 2. I think it is a lot more important to have a neatly organized 
> e-mail than to carefully snip. For example, I could easily cut down 
> carefully on the e-mail I am replying to right now. Instead, I will 
> just cut out the larger portions that aren't needed and not be so 
> careful. I am rather sure that anyone with any intelligence will be 
> able to re-read my quotations and understand the thread. However, I 
> will not be entirely careful and there may be some errata. The time I 
> am saving by doing this can be spent to carefully indent my points so 
> they are easier to understand (such as my "1. a." numbering system 
> above).
>     top-posting promotes backwards reading habits (reading bottom to top)
> 3. Don't be silly...
> *_***_* /A perfect example of a mixture between top-posting and bottom 
> posting. I was able to use a top-posting method to make some general 
> comments and then change to an interleaved method to respond to a 
> specific thing in his e-mail without having to describe what I was 
> referring to. This, of course, only works when responding to short 
> quotes like that above. Also note that I am about to switch back to 
> the top-posting method without any loss of clarity.
> *(In response to:
> */ > Top-posting also means that interspersing comments in the 
> original text
> > (i.e. putting comments close to the text that insipred them) isn't 
> done. */)/*
> 4. Note what I did above, too. This I am not so sure was a good idea, 
> but it got a point across. In all honesty, I typed up that first part 
> without even noticing his comment. I then remembered this part and 
> decided to include it.
> 5. Bottom-posting encourages more thoughtless responses. When you 
> bottom-post, you can click reply immediately and read an e-mail one 
> sentence at a time and reply to that sentence without reading the 
> whole thing. When you top-post, you are more likely to read the entire 
> e-mail before even clicking the reply button. Of course, you may refer 
> back to the original e-mail while typing up your reply to get ideas on 
> what to say, but you at least will have grasped the content of the 
> original message. Sometimes an explanation for a question you might 
> have is given towards the end of the e-mail. This can be a pain when 
> you type up a long response to something and then continue to read 
> only to find out that the other person gave a continuing explanation 
> of their point and that your entire response was invalid.
>     bringing up Outlook in a serious discussion on email clients is
>     likely to have people run away screaming in disgust ;-)
> 6. Amen to that.
> */_***_/*/ I did it again..../
>     You are of course free to top-post, and I am free to reply the way
>     I want.
> 7. If that is the way you feel, then why are we even having this 
> discussion? The entire point of this is to seek uniformity. If you 
> bottom-post and I top-post, it becomes hard to find posts when looking 
> back in the "history" of a thread.
>     sometimes top-posts are easy to read (yours was) but I find it to
>     be more work to read long top-posts and therefore often skip
>     replying!
> 8. As I said in my last e-mail, clarity is important in any e-mail. If 
> a bottom-poster decides it would be a good idea to snip out too much 
> of what he is quoting and then respond to something without properly 
> indicating what he is referring to, it can confuse people just the 
> same. If a top-post is very long and cannot be understood because it 
> is responding to specific points and is not properly referring to 
> them, then it should not be a top-post. That is not to say, however, 
> that it should be a bottom-post. An interleaved-post would serve it 
> just fine.
> 9. Top posts are a lot more like real conversations, contrary to what 
> was said in a previous e-mail (I know this is bad form, but I am 
> typing this e-mail up from a different computer than the one I was at 
> 20-30 minutes ago and I don't have access to that e-mail in order to 
> quote it). In a real conversation, everyone involved already knows 
> what is going on. Each thing that is said comes to the forefront (or 
> in this case, the top) of the conversation. If someone forgot 
> something or wants the basis for someone's comment to be re-explained, 
> they usually ask. In this case, this can be substituted by a person 
> just looking back at the quoted messages. To respond to the idea of 
> new people entering a thread mid-way, I can make another analogy. If 
> you are having a conversation among a group of friends (about a 
> /public/ topic and in a /public/ place) and someone else decides to 
> come over and join in, you usually will let them (especially if they 
> have something important to say). However, they are expected not to 
> bother everyone else. In a conversation like that, it would be 
> considered very rude for them to ask for the whole conversation to be 
> repeated. They can either listen in and try to figure out what is 
> going on or leave the conversation. It is not too hard for a new 
> participant in a thread to review the messages in the thread by 
> starting with the last one on the list. And since these "incomers" 
> form a minority, there is no reason to sacrifice the comfort of 
> everyone else in the thread to offset the rather /small/ inconvenience 
> they have of reading bottom-up. And this is especially true when there 
> are many threads but each one has only a few messages of depth. When 
> people reply to about a hundred e-mails a day, it can help to have 
> things "right in front of you". However, when you're new to a /single/ 
> thread, you're probably only going to have to back-track for *that 
> thread*. Therefore, you will only have to read a few e-mails (not that 
> big of a deal).
> Anyway, I'm out of ideas to support this argument. Lets make this a 
> tag-team match and I'll let someone else take over, lolz.
> *~Matt*
> On May 4, 2005, at 3:18 AM, Magnus Therning wrote:
>     On Tue, May 03, 2005 at 09:11:00PM -0400, Matt Galvin wrote:
>         How? I find that having the most recent reply at the top of the
>         messages makes it easy to find.
>     You call it untidy, I call it LRU ordered
>     -- Daniel Barlow
>     -- 
>     ubuntu-users mailing list
>     ubuntu-users at

Kind Regards Russell
Linux user #369094

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