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I like top posting. My experience has been that snippet-and-reply sometimes leads to an argumentative and confrontational style of discussion, perhaps more than top posting.

My theory is that snippet and reply may lead to taking quotes out of context and replying with an uncharitable interpretation of the snippet.

So while top posting may be less logical and efficient, I believe it may be more conducive to a friendly discussion.

Of course I could be completely mistaken about this, and it was just a coincidence that the communities I was involved in where top posting was heavily criticized had cranky people in them who would have found something to get upset about regardless of posting style.

Edit: I don't mean to imply that you are one of those cranky people just because you like bottom posting or snippet and reply! :-) Just observing something I noticed in online forums many years ago.




> My theory is that snippet and reply may lead to taking quotes out of context and replying with an uncharitable interpretation of the snippet.

Whenever you start to see multiple quote snippets appear in an HN (or any forum) comment thread, it's basically guaranteed to have died and splintered into a bunch of uncharitable nit picks.

It encourages https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gish_gallop.


Maybe this is just my innate pedantry talking, but I think the opposite pathology is common too: some people are great at writing convincing but illogical/weakly-supported arguments that only fail when broken down and looked at in a granular, nitpicky way. Strong norms against that sort of response might make discussion threads less annoying on average, but they are also a boon to sophists, charismatic charlatans and sincere but overconfident bullshitters.


A nice thing about bottom-posting, and even more so inline-posting, is that is a weak certificate that the person replying has actually read the whole message.


>Whenever you start to see multiple quote snippets appear in an HN (or any forum) comment thread, it's basically guaranteed to have died and splintered into a bunch of uncharitable nit picks

Citation needed.

>It encourages https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gish_gallop

[Insert smarmy HN-stlye dismissal here]

</sarcasm>


You could argue though, that the post that gets a reply like that was itself Gish galloping. Somebody just took the time to try to address all the points.


As an aside, Gush galloping is eerily similar to amplification attacks.


Broad generalization: if there are three questions in an email, top posters will answer one, maybe two if the planets align. Someone who takes the time to inline quotes is more likely to recognize that three answers are required.


That does fit my personal experience, which has been that when comparing old-school open-source communities where people know how to do proper quoting on mailing lists vs. internal e-mail communication at an Outlook-centric company that does a lot of remote work by virtue of being geographically spread over the world, the quality of technical discussion is much higher in the open-source communities. A large part of that is indeed that sub-points and/or nuance of earlier e-mails is simply dropped on the floor in the Outlook culture.

I suspect that it's not just about taking time to inline quotes, but also simply about seeing what you're replying to directly next to your answer, as opposed to having it be separated by at least a large message header and likely by much more.

Another sad fact is that people re-invent inline quoting in Outlook culture all the time, badly: they manually copy relevant parts into their top-posted response, or they use some sort of color coding to write their own response inline.


I find it makes things unnatural to read.

> I like top posting.


If you've already been following a conversation, it should make it easier. If you haven't been following the convo, you should probably start at the first message instead of jumping in the middle.

I find top posting with inline, contextual comments when necessary, most useful.


So? ;-)

> I find it makes things unnatural to read.

>> I like top posting.


> My theory is that snippet and reply may lead to taking quotes out of context and replying with an uncharitable interpretation of the snippet.

My theory is that we're all so used to internet debates unfolding in snippet-and-reply-like formats that we associate snippet-and-reply with argumentative discussion by default.




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