More on email style, Supercite, Lurker, SC for Evolution? (Was: Re: Top-Posting)

Karl Hegbloom hegbloom at
Wed May 11 02:03:46 UTC 2005

On Fri, 2005-05-06 at 06:36 +0100, Anders Karlsson wrote:
> Technical and academia conversationists (is there such a word?) have
> since long discovered that putting their response just below the section
> they are answering in the senders mail makes for a much more readable
> style for everyone - especially when complicated matters are discussed.

Yes, and a common mistake is to not re-read the quoted portions, if even
very quickly, to be sure you know what remark is being replied to,
and ... who said it?

Have you ever used Gnus in Emacs, with 'supercite'?  I would really love
to have that capability in Evolution.  It is really helpful in complex
multiparty discussions where you need to quote more than one person from
more than one past message.

I could not find any screenshots...  That manual will be difficult
reading for the uninitiated --- it's an emacs package, and the
prerequisite knowledge cannot be gained in less than a week.  What it
does is choose the "attribution" --- the line at the top that says "On
Fri, ... Anders...", and then an abbreviation for that person, such as
"AK" that is used to prefix the quoting characters, like:

 AK> I guess that it would be [...]

So when you respond to a message that has quoted material in it, rather
than having nested ">" characters, it leaves them alone with the prefix
and attribution.  The attribution always mentions the prefix for that
person, so you can use it as a key to know who said what.

It also displays quoted material from different people in different
colors, to help you sort them out.

Another wonderful tool for working in email discussion forums is Lurker,
found at:

> I guess that it would be experience and technical savvy that determines
> which style is preferred. I mean, it is mentally challenging to read the
> interspersed style, right?

Computers and human communications are by nature complex and mentally
challenging, dude.  Like wow.  You know?

The main thing is that more people need to be educated wrt what the old
timers in the Internet development community have learned over the years
about facilitating email based written discussions.  There should be a
good book on the subject, and published WWW as well as print, and it
ought to be taught in Junior High or High School, as well as in lower
division University curricula.

The other thing is that email client software needs to have features
that make it easier to work with.  For instance, imagine if Evolution
had 'supercite' in it.  You would pick parts of messages from the
thread, by highlighting them.  Then, you'd fly over and paste that into
your message edit window, and it would insert an attribution, then paste
in the highlighted text quoted with that person's prefix.

Karl Hegbloom <hegbloom at>

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