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Mailing-List Etiquette


This is one of my pet peeves in all of the Ubuntu Community mail-lists that I’m in, most members DON’T reply to messages in-line. My question is should this enforced for the ease of reading and following the messages? Or would that be hard to enforce since change is hard on people?

Just a thought.


Something I have learned is that inline responses is very uncommon for many email users. It is far more common in the Open Source world where the notion of email discussion lists is very common. Outside of Open Source, mailing lists are less common, so many people discuss by simply replying to emails and typing in a quick response, thus top posting.

My feeling is that in collaborative discussion lists, inline responses should be encouraged, but if it is not always observed, that is fine.


I figured that it’s more of a “Open Source” thing. And I guess that you are right, it’s would be impossible to enforce it.


Impossible and probably counterproductive to enforce it; although gently documenting best practices is certainly worthwhile.

I read a wide variety of Apache related lists, and the style varies from community to community. Separately, some communities are amazingly consistent, and some vary depending on the writer. It’s really up to the community as a whole to adopt a reply style; trying to change one that’s well-established often turns into a religious war, so to speak.

Example: when you reply in-line, do you …snip… the previous message to the relevant portions, or include the whole thing? Again, it depends if your community is used to reading the whole discussion list (where you should have already read the previous thread, so snipping saves a lot of time), versus being on some other kind of forum, where each message is only seen individually (so you might want to leave context there).

Personally I snip and reply in-line where it makes sense; i.e. to a specific set of points; otherwise I top post if I’m making a more general comment.

(Still deciding on travel plans: currently arriving Sunday AM, but thinking about paying to switch to Saturday AM to at least catch a few sessions… but hmm, would need hotel night too).


You just gave me a blog post idea.


I hope you can make it! :slight_smile:


that’s what netiquette mandates, it really is a form of respect to the recipients of the message. People online haven’t been educated to respect it and probably it’s too late now to fix this problem, especially since popular emall clients like gmail do a fair job at trying to hide quoted parts of messages, de facto doing automatically what used to be the job of a human carefully selecting pieces of text to reply to.

Thanks to for being the kind sponsor for this forum!