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

J.B. Nicholson-Owens jbn at forestfield.org
Sat Mar 21 04:39:47 CET 2015

Barry Warsaw wrote:
> 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.

I concur and I still consider this to be true on the grounds of 
legibility. I find it far more clear to read point followed by rebuttal 
instead of reading rebuttals followed by having to figure out which 
points were being rebutted.

I think users who prefer top-posting are mostly giving into their MUA's 
defaults. I don't think most users face MUA inability to edit quoted 
material. I find the users are also unwilling to put more time into 
editing, so they don't and now so many don't it is expected that 
Microsoft Outlook users (for example) will top-post.

Every modern (typically GUI) MUA I know of has a search feature, so I 
don't buy the notion that it's hard to sift through old emails. I do 
understand that it's hard to read poorly-reformatted quotes of old 
emails (a problem I see with top-posting replies) and I wouldn't trust 
quotes without going back to my copy of that email or a mailing list 
archive (if I don't have a copy of that post) to verify the quote.

I think modern MUAs in widespread use (with the exception of Thunderbird 
and its derivatives) don't do proper threading. Therefore many email 
users don't know what threading is from experience. Maybe some MUA will 
do threading and become popular and users will think threading is a new 

I also think it's right and proper to expect to pick up replies to 
mailing list posts on the list by default. I don't like having to 
include a header that tries to convey this desire to MUAs and I don't 
want another copy of any response sent to me in addition to a copy on 
the list. Unfortunately I don't know how to get Thunderbird to include 
the header on every mailing list reply without me having to tell it 
which addresses are mailing lists. I have a way I'd prefer Thunderbird 
to handle this but that would be off-topic for this discussion and 
mailing list.

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