E-mail responses

Why do some people not know that you respond to an e-mail at the top, not the bottom? And I’ve even seen responses embedded somewhere within the original message.

I’m not talking about 80 year olds who’ve never used a computer. I’m talking about people who use computers every day, including e-mails.

Some email programs automatically put the response at the bottom.

Yeah. That’s weird.

See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Posting_style .

TOFU answers are one standard, but not the one and universally accepted one.


> […] responses embedded somewhere within the original message.

refer to inline replying (a valid style) or to what I somehow encounter: changing the original, quoted message to reflect the answer to a question (behaviour deserving of a beating IMO)?

Because top-posting isn’t intuitive and makes entire exchanges more difficult to read?

Microsoft Outlook ruined email.

Because some people aren’t anal?

I much prefer bottom reply and even new responses within the quotes (separated by blank lines, of course) because it eases comprehension that way.

Reminds me of a bit of email humour that I saw*, went on for several more lines but the jist of it was (all top-replied, of course, for the point of the humour)

*wording it that way because I know the awesome power of the Dope to find things on the 'net will reveal it to me. Yes, I just used the Dope for selfish purposes and I’ll do it again!

Because some people think it’s natural for a document to flow from top to bottom. It’s a bit jarring to have the response above the original question/request.

No, it is not better to leave it on top, because otherwise I have to scroll past it to see the part that’s actually new. It’s not like I’ve never read the rest of the email, and most of the time I’m not going to need to read that part. So by leaving it in that order, you are just wasting my time.

This is not as big a problem on messageboards, where quotes are propertly set off from the rest of the post, and people are more likely to edit down.

Of course, Gmail has it best, by keeping all the emails together, but collapsed, and not showing the extra info in the email itself. It just looks like a normal thread.

Unless, of course, the answer to your question is included in the old part that you didn’t read. I recently had an email exchange that went like this – oldest email is on the bottom:

I don’t know, K., let me think about that – or maybe you could scroll down and see them for yourself.

From: K.
To: me
Date: Later that same day

Did you get the changes I requested?

From: me
To: K.
Date: one week after original email

K. -

I’m just following up to find out about the status of this project.

From: me
To: K.
K. -

Here is the information. I have made the changes you requested.

[Information included in body of email, with changes]

Did the “norm” used to be replies on the bottom? I could swear when I started using email in the late 90s that it was bottom reply, but at some point I had to force myself to start replying on top (probably when I started working and getting work emails).

I have a friend / former client (“former” because I shut my business down) who won’t reply to my emails unless they’re top reply and the email I’m replying to is in full at the bottom. (Bugs the hell out of me, as my ideal reply situation is internal replies, isolating each paragraph that I want to reply to to make it clear what I’m referring to). Says that that’s the way everyone does.

From the wiki page (slightly modified):

Yecch. For anything more than a single, short (say, one or two line) response, top-posting makes me stabby.

YES. Proper netiquette was to reply after the quote; and better yet, to snip out the irrelevant stuff and reply point by point. I miss those days. sniff

IMO it sorta depends.

If I am replying to an email you recently sent just to me, I am likely putting the response at the top (are you too stupid to remember what your recent email was about?). And, if you are, hey the copy is right below the response.

If its an email sent to a bunch of folks and I am replying to everyone, your email would likely be first so other folks in the conversation understand the topic before my response.