What is this mean by this term

perryh at pluto.rain.com perryh at pluto.rain.com
Thu Jan 18 09:34:16 UTC 2007

> Unfortunately all Micro$lop 'standard' email clients and a
> few others put the cursor at the top of the email, so the
> bad habit has developed across the world both domestically
> and in businesses, to write there, rather than continuing
> the email thread at the bottom.

This behavior of business-oriented email systems (not just M$
-- CC:Mail does the same thing IIRC) may have originated with
customer preference.  The reasoning, which *does not* apply to
News or to archived email lists, goes something like this:

* A good many business threads start out as informal conversations
  between two, or among a few, often not including any archived
  mailing list.  It is not at all uncommon for such a thread to
  develop a need for a larger audience along the way, and in such
  cases those joining later need a way to review the entire history
  -- not just a few selective quotes which at best were intended to
  remind participants of the context.

  The critical aspect is that, by the time the participants realize
  that this particular discussion really should have been archived,
  it's a bit late in the game to do so; thus this argument clearly
  does not apply to lists which are archived at the outset.

* To allow for that eventuality, some (many?) businesses encourage
  participants in informal discussion threads to retain the whole
  message history (so that, when someone needs to be added mid-
  stream, the history is inherently included with the forwarded
  message).  This argument implicitly presumes that email bandwidth,
  and to a lesser extent storage, are of little consequence -- which
  certainly was not true of widely-distributed lists in the days
  when most message traffic was carried over voice-grade phone lines
  at 9600 BPS or less and a *large* disk farm contained maybe 1GB!

* If one is going to retain the whole history anyway, it is easier
  for the recipients to read the latest contribution at the top.
  The only time someone has to navigate to the bottom is when they
  initially become involved in an ongoing discussion.

The bottom line is that top-posting makes no sense at all in News,
or on an archived email list, because the history can easily be
retrieved as needed.  It may have a legitimate place in unarchived,
informal discussions, especially in business situations where the
audience may need to expand.  Outfits like M$ probably believe, and
perhaps with some justification, that most of their customers fall
into the latter usage pattern.

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