On Mon, Jun 24, 2019 at 12:37:48PM -0700, Andrew Barnert wrote:
Since you bring up “feeble mail clients”:
Good mail clients can be configured to collapse and expand quotes, and to automatically start long nested quotes collapsed.
Indeed you are correct, and my own mail client supports that as an optional add-on, which I've tried and discarded as more annoying than helpful. In my experience the problem is that trying to solve the problem of quoting via technology is too crude: all the ones I've see are all or nothing, hide all context or show all context.
Its really a human problem, not a technology problem: as the reader, I want to see relevant context, but not the entire history of the discussion. I cannot see any automated tool being able to guess what is relevant any time soon.
In fact, most feeble clients (like Gmail and Yahoo, and the builtin iOS and Android apps) do this whether you want it or not.
I can't speak for the others, but my recollection of Gmail is that replies default to top posting with the quoted text below your response.
But you’re not going to convince everyone to do it traditionally all the time
I'm not trying to do that. But surely it's not too hard to ask that every few posts somebody in the thread trims quoting to keep it under control?
I'm not bitching because somebody quoted seven lines rather than three, I'm pointing out that when you have something like five pages of quoted text to a paragraph or three of new text, quoting is out of control. If we can't keep the quoting short in every post, we can hopely cull some of it periodically.
We're programmers. We've learned by hard experience to delete dead code, not to leave it sitting in the program commented out, and not just because it makes reading the source code harder. It makes it harder to search, it makes files and diffs larger, it increases the ratio of noise to signal. Excessive quoting in email is the same, whether your mail client hides it by default or not, the noise is still there.
And the one-time hassle of figuring out how to configure your MUA, or even switching to a better one
"Better" is subjective, and just because a client is arguably better in one regard doesn't make it better in others.