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Top Posting

by David Stevenson, Liverpool, England, UK

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Editor's note:

The following question was asked on a newsgroup:

Please excuse my ignorance but I visit occasionally and read the mail and have contributed a little, but have now noticed someone saying that top-posting is considered rude. Can someone please explain what this is I do not know the expression and I would hate to be classed as rude by doing this inadvertantly.

Many thanks. Pat Jeffo.

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The best way is to answer the post underneath as here. Top posting means putting the answer first.

With a post the length of yours it really makes little difference, but some posts are quite long, especially when there is an original, then an answer, then a further comment.

If people follow Netiquette correctly they will delete all the earlier posts except enough so you can see what they are replying to, and then answer thereafter.

There are three reasons I do not like top posting.

First, top posters tend never to snip, never to shorten that to which they reply. So people whose download time costs money are wasting money downloading enormous lengths of stuff they have already read.

Second, and connected, is that you do not know with top posting whether someone has written something else later on, so do you waste your time going through it?

Neither of these would matter if top posters snipped, but they tend not to.

Third, it is much easier to read things in order, and you can see with good Netiquette how easily it flows. Let me give you a made-up example:

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Mary wrote:
>Sam wrote:
>>Henry wrote:
>>>Elizabeth wrote:
>>>How do I stop my cat eating the furniture?
>>Have you tried putting a velcro cover on?
>That's ok if you do not have children, but they tear the velcro - what
>then?

Try guaranteed child-proof super-velcro: I have been using it ever since
I had my fourth child - and my sixth cat.

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It reads easily and logically, which does not happen if you put the answer first - especially when there are further comments on the same thread.

BUT not snipping is a far worse disease. If you read a five screen article, and you like it, it is the height of selfishness to leave the whole five screens while you add a single line to say how much you like it - and it does not matter which end you put it, it is still very unfair on others and shows a lack of respect for your fellow posters. You should leave in a paragraph or two, not more, unless you are specifically referring to bits. Then you leave in the bits to which you refer, and reply just after them.

So, please snip, that is vital, please do not top post, but that is not so important.

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Editor's note:

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