Thursday, December 24

Bottom Posting

Recently was chastised for Bottom posting on a Mailing list, so I thought I'd write a few words about it.

I bottom (or inline post) mostly because I like the email to be a message. You read a message or a letter from top to bottom, from left to right. It wasn't until email clients started top posting (looking at you Outlook/Lotus Notes) that email was written in the top-posting format, forcing you to read an email backwards.

So I looked it up, basically looking at two different information stores.

Wikipedia -- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Posting_style
RFC1855 -- http://www.ietf.org/rfc/rfc1855.txt

These two places will define how to write email and how email should be written, on mailing lists, use groups, or any other email transaction.

The particular part to pay attention to is in 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!"

Summarize the email at the top, and post below it. In other words, bottom-posting is the correct way to write email, as per RFC.

8 comments:

Mike Litoris said...

I'm with you, dude... everyone else is doing it wrong.

Joel Esler said...

Thanks. I knew I wasn't alone. I knew someone out there was on my side!

MikeP said...

I prefer interspersed / bottom posting, but I'm tempted to write an RFC prescribing top-posting. I think it depends on who you're talking to and what their own norms are.

That said, I don't think you were attacked for bottom-posting; I think you were attacked for your employer, and the bottom-posting was a convenient excuse.

I must confess to taking a certain delight in removing everything below my reply when talking to top-posters.

What drives me nuts is when it gets mixed up. Augh.

evilghost said...

Bottom posting is annoying in that there are several people who often read messages in a preview pane; bottom posting requires the entire message to be re-opened or scrolled in the preview pane. You're forced to re-read what you've already said before the new content is visible. In-line posting, where applicable, is acceptable. RFC or not, bottom posting is as antiquated as bang paths.

Joel Esler said...

Yet, people still do both. So, I'll stick to the proper way.

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re posting - StartTags.com said...

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Waldo Kitty said...

bottom posting is OK but inline is much better... especially when responding point by point... top posting is just wrong in so many ways... it is, honestly, another form of laziness fomented on the world by a group with the incessant goal of dumbing down everything they can get involved in... has no one learned anything from 25 - 30 years of BBS messaging? deity knows we don't see half the problems there that we do in other supposedly new technology and especially the so called new communication capabilities where all the ugly is hidden behind pretty pictures :rolleyes:

MikeP and i seem to think similar in this aspect... i do delight in removing everything below my replies when i do that... and yes, the mixed up mess that we get when inline, bottom and top posting are all mixed together is really really really bad... those deserve a good zippy comment ;)

Darael said...

It is clear enough that inline is best - and furthermore, a careful reading of the RFC reveals that said RFC labels it the preferred style, with bottom-posting second and top-posting actively discouraged.