[Mailman-Users] The "right" way to reply to a mailing list

Andrew Stuart andrew.stuart at supercoders.com.au
Thu Mar 19 23:21:28 CET 2015

I was thinking that people new to using Mailman could get a very simple email “welcome to this list” on subscription, with brief pointers on how to do things.  To the uninitiated there might be a sense of not wanting to engage for fear of breaking something or doing it wrong.

I’m certain that the vast majority of less technical users don’t know how conversation threads work.

For example I’m still not really clear on which field the list address should go into, and does it matter what other addresses go into to and cc fields.  I suspect it doesn’t matter much but I haven’t yet gone to the trouble of working it out (hey that’s what I’m doing now!).


On 20 Mar 2015, at 8:53 am, Barry Warsaw <barry at list.org> wrote:

On Mar 20, 2015, at 08:19 AM, Andrew Stuart wrote:

> When I reply to a message on a mailing list, what is the “right” way to do it?
> Should I be deleting previous thread text from my response?
> Should I be adding anything in?

Of course, Wikipedia is the font of all human knowledge and truth:


This is an interesting question for me because I think the netiquette rules
I've been using for decades may be changing.

I've always found it proper and useful to include the quoted material of the
original message, but trim the quotes to just the bit you are responding to.
I'd call this interleaved-with-trimming.

Top posting has always been a serious breach of netiquette.

What I've found interesting is that some of my correspondents (off-list)
actually *want* top posting, and find anything else confusing.  I think I
understand why in at least some cases; Apple Mail top posts by default, and
some folks just don't like to go digging around in the email to find the
answer they're looking for.  I've actually tried to accommodate that when
sending email to them.

I see more and more mailing list and group emails not doing any trimming.  I
find that incredibly hard to parse because if they *are* interleaving
responses, you have to hunt through a huge amount of text.  To make things
worse, almost the entire conversation is retained so responses to responses to
responses just clutter things up and make more noise.  I wonder if webmail
u/is like gmail (which I don't use) encourage this style.

And don't get me started on HTML-only email or some reply styles that make no
distinction between the quoted original text and the reply.  I can barely read

As the article mentions, there are enough different styles in widespread use
that it's best to conform to the norms of the community.  My own feeling is
that interleaved-with-trimming is the most conducive to mailing list

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