** Sometime around 22:56 -0800 11/23/2005, Chuq Von Rospach sent everyone:
funny, I generally top post now. I guess that makes me a heathen or something.
Chuq, Chuq, Chuq, what has happened to you? I don't remember your
being this judgmental. No one has tried (AFAICT) to equate
top-posting to heathenism. Last I recall, we were trying to discuss a
topic, not trying to ban it from the 'Net.
At work, we do that because it keeps the context of the discussion
together, but out of the way. It saves us rooting around for
something that was said three messages ago. Occasionally I'll tear
down a message and respond point by point, but usually, that's
And that is exactly how correspondence works in my office, as well --
and I'm sure that it's the norm in most offices these days. And
there's nothing wrong with that -- yaknow, "right tool for the right
job" and all that.
First, top post vs. inline is a religious fight.
It certainly is, which is why I ended my post with "Say, anyone want
to talk about Reply-To munging" comment (another religious argument
where there is no right or wrong).
Nobody is "right"
Yes, Chuq, that is entirely correct. And you might have noticed a
distinct lack of any suggestion in my post that either method is
"right" or "wrong." (Or if there was such an inference, it was
-- different people have different preferences. To assume there can
be only one style is like telling everyone to use san-serif fonts.
It's not about what's best, but enforcing on everyone what SOME
Yes, that is correct. And unfortunately, sometimes it is necessary to
make decisions like that -- to inconvenience a few for the good of
the entire list. Now, don't get me wrong, that is not the same as
saying that one method is "right" or the other one is "wrong"; we've
simply decided to standardize on a particular format that we feel is
better suited for discussion lists.
My argument has been, and continues to be, that people should spend
their time teaching their mail clients to present mail in the format
they prefer, adn not yelling at others to "do it this way", because
there will always be idiots like me who refuse to change my habits
to fit your preferences. Because I don't believe anhyone has the
right to declare themselves god and enforce their preferences on
And I agree, and that's one of the <cue daffodils> truly beautiful
things about the Internet </daffodils>: If someone doesn't like that
way one list is run, then s/he is free to leave and join any number
of other lists.
And so the argument to that statement is anticipated to be, "Well,
then you are chasing away subscribers." Granted, but the reality is
(1) We're not in this to see how many subscribers we can get; we're
providing a free public service. No one is forced to subscribe, much
less post, to our mailing lists.
(2) We're going to chase away subscriber no matter WHAT we do. If we
standardize on top-posting, we will lose subscribers who don't like
that format. If we do not standardize on any format at all, and allow
the individual subscribers to choose, then we will lose subscribers
who find it difficult to follow threads or read the digests (that was
the complaint we were receiving that led to our decision to
standardize on a threaded posting format on our Mac-centric lists).
it's a losing game from the start,
Actually, it's not -- we've had very good success overall with the
threaded-posting standardization. That's not to say that it makes
everyone happy, but there's NO list format that will make everyone
happy; we simply need to select something that works for the
individual list and go with it. On our lists, the vast majority of
posts are in the threaded format, which doesn't seem to be a "losing
game" AFAWCT. And the fact that we have subscribers asking us to
extend the threaded-posting requirement to other lists suggests that
it's working pretty well, at least for some.
so why bother?
Primarily because the digests were simply becoming untenable -- many
threads, even for those in MAIL mode, were confusing to the point of
being utterly useless, with top posts interspersed with threaded
focus on things you CAN control, which is your own environment.
But they're OUR lists, so they ARE our environment. And your
statement seems to imply that it's not controllable, while our
experience is directly contrary to that.
Quit trying to stuff your envirobnment out on the commons.
The job of a Listmom is to manage the list for the better interests
of the group (a socialist perspective on discussion lists -- but
then, discussion lists are, IMO, inherently socialist).
FWIW, we also kill threads when they drift off the topic of the list,
and we stop flame wars dead in their tracks. Sure, we could quit
trying to impose our individual wills upon the lists and just let
there be a free-for-all out there -- but then what good would the
list be? Defining "order" on the list is a line in the sand; our line
just happens to be a little farther down the beach from your line,
but we're still drawing our lines arbitrarily based on our own
experience, on the subscriber base that we have (or imagine that we
have), on what our individual goals are for the list, and on the
tools that we have at our disposal to help us implement the list's
That's why some users get "pissy" when the list moms do this, by the
way, and I can't blame them. they're RIGHT.
But Chuq, I thought you said, "Nobody is 'right' -- different people
have different preferences." Either way, this is not a "right" and
"wrong" type of issue. They have their preferred method of posting;
we have a method upon which we've standardized for [what we perceive
to be] the good of the list. Those who simply do not want to adjust
their posting style to our posting requirements are neither "right"
nor "wrong." It is their choice whether they post, and their choice
whether they subscribe at all. If I were running a publicly funded
service -- e.g., university-funded discussion lists set up by an
academic department at a state university for the benefit of the
students -- then I'd be more inclined to view this as a question of
egalitarian access. But I personally pay for (and maintain) the
servers and the bandwidth, and we have an all-volunteer group of
Listmoms, and we feel that it is acceptable for us to decide how we
want to run the lists, and what format we wish to use, and then let
those who like that style of management join the lists and
participate. To be sure, there are those who DON'T like our
management style -- and some of them are quite vehement about it. I
don't fault them for their opinions, nor do I feel that they are
wrong simply for not liking our management style -- but I'm also not
going to change a format that seems to be working quite well for the
majority simply because of a very vocal few.
Same with "reply to", and "don't email me AND the list", and any of
a dozen other "you have to do it my way, because I said so" things.
Well, "Reply-To" is simply a decision that has to be made -- there
are three choices, and the list manager/owner simply has to select
the one that he thinks works best for his list, taking into
consideration many of the same factors that were taking into
consideration for posting format (subscriber base, type of list,
goals of list, etc.). In contrast, the "don't e-mail me and the list"
thing is an individual subscriber preference -- and while I believe
it's acceptable for posters to keep track of the posting guidelines
for an entire list, I don't think it's practical for a poster to have
to remember the Cc: preferences of every active poster on the list. I
think it's acceptable for the list managers to decide, on behalf of
their constituency, what is best for the list, and impose
standardization, guidelines, rules, whatever you want to call them. I
don't think it's acceptable for individual subscribers to start
dictating format, because that's just no scalable.
But frankly, I think it no longer matters; the mail list as a
primary communications community tool is dead. Which is a great way
to start another argument, but I won't bother getting into it. I'll
just note this posting:
and shut up again.
Hmmm, well, I have my own thoughts on that, and I think you might be
trying to generalize a bit too much, but I agree that it's all a
different argu^W thread entirely.
By the way, what RFC states that top posting is the wrong way to do this?
Gee, Chuq, I don't know of any.
I don't remember seeing that standard.
Funny thing, neither do I. And I should hope that one never
materializes, either, as I think it would be quite detrimental, no
matter what format the RFC decided to espouse/endorse.
Oh, and this is a losing cause at best, given that most email
clients today handle replies in a way to encourage top posting. You
might as well fight the fight against porn on USENET. ACtually,
that's probably easier.
Well, as I said, it seems to be working pretty well for us -- with
the caveat that, no matter WHAT choice we make (including the "no
choice" option), we're going to make some group of people unhappy.
Including, apparently, other list owners. ;-)
Vince Sabio vince @