Tony Arnold tony.arnold at
Thu May 5 10:20:24 UTC 2005


On Thu, 2005-05-05 at 11:46 +0200, Gerhard Gaußling wrote:

> > 3) somewhere random in
> > the middle.
> No, there is a 4th Way: To put the mouse cursor under the quoted lines 
> like kmail does and a lot of mailers that where aware of RFC1855
> :
>     - If you are sending a reply to a message or a posting be sure you
>       summarize the original at the top of the message, or include just
>       enough text of the original to give a context.  This will make
>       sure readers understand when they start to read your response.
>       Since NetNews, especially, is proliferated by distributing the
>       postings from one host to another, it is possible to see a
>       response to a message before seeing the original.  Giving context
>       helps everyone.  But do not include the entire original!

Can e-mail messages on the same mailing list arrive out of order like
they can on news? I'm not sure. It probably doesn't make much difference
to the advice above anyway.

> But keep in mind to edit the quoted lines to a reasonable content. 
> Otherwise This might lead the poster to let the whole bunch of quote 
> untouched and wrote his short "I agree!" message on the buttom of the 
> mail.

Or the old habit seen much on AOL of adding 'Me too!' to the bottom of a
message. Really irritating!

> > If respondents are to interleave their replies with commented text of
> > the original, then the top is best place for the cursor. 
> This might or might not to be the best place (see above). This depends 
> on the personal habits and preferences.

I should have appended IMHO after my statement above!

But I think you have hit the nail on the head. Much of this is down to
personal habits and preferences. Perhaps the initial position of the
cursor on replying should be configurable on a per user basis?

> Yes, the random method is silly, but directly before the sig it 
> shouldn't be that annoying, in particular when the MUA can handle it in 
> a smart way. For example kmail quotes only the selected parts of the 
> text you want to respond to, and sets the cursor under the quoted part 
> of the message.

Yes, evolution does this too, which I only discovered by accident. It's
not a feature I've got into the habit of using though. Maybe I should.

>  This got some other flaws, if you want to quote several 
> different portions of the original message, than you have to switch 
> back to the normal behaviour: Don't select any text and reply to the 
> message, than edit the full quote to the reasonable content and put 
> your mesage in a sensefull way underneath the quotes.

I still assert that if you are responding to several points in a message
by interleaving responses with quoted original text, then putting the
cursor at the top is a reasonable place to start. I do agree that there
are circumstances when a different starting position for the cursor
would be appropriate, but it's context sensitive.

I guess the community as a whole is unlikely ever to agree on all
aspects of this issue. At the end of the day, I think messages should be
both readable and useful to the reader, and that should be the driver
for how it is formatted etc.

Tony Arnold, IT Security Coordinator, University of Manchester,
Manchester Computing, Kilburn Building, Oxford Road, Manchester M13 9PL.
T: +44 (0)161 275 6093, F: +44 (0)870 136 1004, M: +44 (0)773 330 0039
E: tony.arnold at, H:

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