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Why You Should Quote

If you're an Outlook Express user, already know that you shouldn't top post, but can't figure out how to avoid it, then you might want to install OE-QuoteFix.

This section provided by PhilB. He's the same guy behind the weekly FAQ pointers and is responsible for pulling more people's heads out of shier butts than anyone else in the VB&G. He is "Ed." below:

The following was written by allen in response to someone asking why one should quote in Usenet.

It has to do with the nature of usenet. It's what is known as "propagation", which I'll attempt to describe.

I dial into [ISP's name] machine and read and write to [newsgroup] there. When I write something on [newsgroup] it's immediately written to my ISP's machine. My ISP is then responsible for passing it forward to the machines that it communicates with.

You're dialed into AOL (which has multiple servers). You see what I've written only AFTER my ISP passes it to AOL and AOL puts it into the queue of messages that it's currently maintaining for [newsgroup.

When you follow up on a post that I've written, your followup is posted immediately onto AOL's machine, then moved back in the normal course of events to my ISP's machine, where I see your response.

This scenario is of course is very simple, the reality involves millions of messages and thousands (hundreds of thousands?) of machines world wide.

A key phrase above is "in the normal course of events". With so many machines and people involved, things get screwed up sometimes. Even without any screwups, there's no guarantee that the original post will arrive at a given server before the response.

So, what often happens is that I'll start seeing RESPONSES to a post BEFORE I see the original. Then I'm left looking at a single line of a post, (with no context), that says "I need directions" -- and I'm kind of left guessing what you need directions to. In the example I'm referring to, it was pretty clear because of the header.

In other cases, particularly in a more complex thread, the simple response is often more baffling than instructive. If however, you're careful to quote enough of the post that you're responding to, then the person who reads JUST your post has the context available to understand what you're responding to.

AOL users seem to be more prone to not quoting posts than many other ISP users -- and this appears to me to be directly related to the fact that your newsreader provided by AOL doesn't clearly and obviously supply the quoting function.

My newsreader is simple -- If I "reply to a post", it automatically loads the post that I'm replying to into the body of the message that I'm creating, and then allows me to cut () those portions that I don't want to have included.

AOL's newsreader apparently isn't that simple. [Editor of this message], (the baby-faced-asshole), posts a weekly note in here which explains how to quote posts using AOL; check it out and see if it makes sense -- providing of course that my explanation of WHY you should quote at least the pertinent part of the post you're responding to makes sense...

[Note: This message is not the one mention in the paragraph above. You should be looking for a message titled "How to quote with AOL", which is usually posted at the same time as this one and is available on the same server you saw this message on. - Ed.]"

If you use AOL or Web-TV you will save yourself a lot of embarrassment and ridicule by reading PhilB's pages on those subjects here.