E-Mail Quoting...

From: Hans Franke <Hans.Franke_at_siemens.com>
Date: Wed Aug 18 08:47:07 2004

Am 18 Aug 2004 7:51 meinte David V. Corbin:
> I beg to differ on opinions on e-mail quoting. I really dislike having to
> scroll past all of the stuff I have already read, or even scan through a mix
> of old and new. To be honest I dislike the whole use of e-mails for
> "conversations". I would much rather have the ability to organize the
> information into something USEFUL.

This requires even more discipline ... and worse: the same understanding
of structure (and usefulness) is needed for all parties involved.

> If the ability existed to simply post a link to the previous mail that would
> be helpful. If we were allowed things other than just text [although I
> completely understand the reasons for keeping this pure text] I would
> encapsulate the previous messages[s]. They should be there for reference, in
> most cases they have alrady been read.

Read, and remembering an exact argument to which a third person
is refering are two different issues. After all, a Mailing List
is not realy a dialogue between two people, but rather a group
doing a conference - with time delay. Now, while in a real meeting
you would directly answer, it already gets hard to answer one
person if you're the third in row to reply ... at least I have
always a hard time to remember my arguments and listen to the
speakers inbetween. Especialy when they come up with new and
good arguments.

Now adding the time delay is like having multiple meetings at the
same time, since the streams split up (and join again, maybe) into
threads of subdiscusions.

Instead of encapsulateing whole messages, which are then a mere
archive (that could be external), you need to be specific, what
you are addressing. Now, in a real meeting you would do something
like 'Fine, but coming back to what David said about usefulness
and ... I would like to add that ...'. Isn't it? Here comes the
great part of email communication and embedded quoteing. Instead
of giving a mere hint what topic you're answering, you quote all
parts that are _relevant_ to your statement. Thus setting an easy
to follow stage for furter understanding.

In my last Mail I did show my strong disregard for the MS-Style
of includeing a complete previous mail with all the technical
glibebrisch arround at the end of a mail. Part of that also goes
to people who use classic usenet style the microsoft way, by
just quoteing everything and then putting a mere line below.

If I answer a posting I try to quote only the parts that are
necersarry to understand the flow of arguments. In most cases
I remove old empty lines, and even shorten quotes (by adding
[...]) and of course, I get rid of headers and footers. To me
that's part of the communication. I try to state as specific
as possible what it is about

(A notable exception here are of course postings with a rather
funny background, where the sequence (and way it is written) are
part of the fun)

> I offered to provide a site where the information could be better organized
> and crosslinked, but there was opposition for a number of people here.
> Perhaps I look at information a bit differently than some others. I would
> like the ability to track a given topic without seeing repeat information
> [regardless of how it is quoted], handle the information in topical,
> originator and time based fashions.

Well, nice, and a great idea - except that good information retrival
is 99% about how the information is prepared beforehand and only 1%
about how it is accessed ... and so we're back to the discipline part.

And usenet style of quoteing, if handled properly, is to me a way to
provide reuseable pices of information. If several people reply to
each other in a way of quoteing the necersary parts to create a final
summary, then this is the document to be accessed later. The documents
on the way there are merly drafts, and only usefull if you want to
explore the sidelines.

VCF Europa 6.0 am 30.April und 01.Mai 2005 in Muenchen
Received on Wed Aug 18 2004 - 08:47:07 BST

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