Top-quoting defined [was: namespace dictionaries ok?]

Steven D'Aprano steve at
Wed Oct 26 01:26:37 CEST 2005

On Tue, 25 Oct 2005 17:27:55 -0400, Mike Meyer wrote:

>> On Tuesday 25 October 2005 00:31, Duncan Booth wrote:

>> Their differences in styles, like mine, probably arise from the culture of 
>> their respective fields. Most, like me, may not even know what the heck you 
>> are talking about. Also, here is a well written synopsis of the arguments in 
>> favor of top-posting and they may even be strong enough to legitimize the 
>> practice:
> Well, if I could find a 300 baud modem, I might understand his
> objection to not top-posting (he really only has one). 

Perhaps he is hosting his website on a server with a 300 baud modem? It
times out for me... *wink*

A: Because it messes up the order in which people read text.
Q: Why is top-posting such a bad thing?
A: Top-posting.
Q: What is the most annoying email habit?

I wouldn't object to top-posting nearly so much if the average top-poster
had the writing skills of an illiterate sloth hunter in the jungles of
Borneo[1], but sadly most of them don't. I get people replying to an email
three weeks after I sent them the original, and they top-post the answer
"Yes, I agree". When I read it, my brain reboots from the sheer inanity of
it. You agree to *what*? Do I really care enough to read through the
entire thread -- which you've so *thoughtfully* quoted in its entirety,
eight levels deep, thank you very much -- to find out what you are
agreeing to?

And then when I do read through it, I discover that what was actually
asked was three or four *specific* questions like "How much memory would
you like your new PC to have?" and "Would you like wireless?".

Top-posting encourages stupid mistakes like that, by encouraging people to
hit send after they've said the first thing they thought of, without
actually reading through the email to see if there are other issues that
need to be dealt with.

[1] There are no sloths in Borneo.


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