Top-posting shenanigans (was: Re: ASR33 $1000+ And Counting...)

From: der Mouse <mouse_at_Rodents.Montreal.QC.CA>
Date: Thu Feb 24 21:58:13 2005

>> The biggest is all the LUsers using MS Lookout
> I assume you mean "Outlook" but that you somehow think you're cool
> for the ridiculous misspelling.

Well, I prefer "Outhouse", but I think I understand it. To turn all
didactic and analytical about it, it's an attempt to exploit
Sapir-Whorf effects: the language one uses influences one's thoughts.
If one uses negatively loaded language for a thing, the thing will come
to carry a corresponding negative loading; and if one sees/hears such
negative language, one will (to a lesser but still nonzero) extent
acquire such a loading. This is (part of) why advertisers, politicans,
and others with an interest in producing unnoticed changes in
perception tend to use emotionally loaded ("spun") language.

Now, you may not think that such an attempt is a good thing, whether in
this case or any other. But "think[ing] you're cool" is far from the
only motivation for using such spun terminology, nor is it "ridiculous"
- unless you want to try to exploit the same effect slightly
differently by ridiculing the terminology distortion in order to
ridicule the basis for its use (which I would find very ironic, using a
technique to provoke ridicule of that very technique's use).

> Anyway, consider most users in the real world have no choice. You
> get a job, work in your cubicle, and use Outlook whether you like it
> or not.

I find this assertion interesting. What is your basis for asserting
that such constraints apply to "most users"? Or are you defining "the
real world" as places where such constraints apply - which would make
your statement true but totally tautological?

I have seen but a tiny fraction of the various jobs in existence (I'm
talking about the ones I've seen, not just the ones I've worked in).
But at none of them would it be impossible for someone who wanted to to
use, say, Eudora instead. I'm certainly willing to believe that such
places exist, but I've seen few enough that I have to question your
aassertion that they are a majority.

Even granting your point, my remarks below apply. Outlook does not
make it impossible to reply inline, or edit down the message, any more
than my own MUA does (which, like Outlook, starts the message editor
with the selspu already present and the active point at the beginning
of it). I don't quite understand why it seems to encourage
top-posting, but it sure does seem to.

> I've said it before: I'm by no means a Microsoft fan. But the
> world's self-proclaimed power users need to understand that it's 2005
> and computer aren't just for them anymore.

No. And if two people who both like it want to top-post back and forth
to one another, that's nobody's business but theirs (and sometimes a
few others', such as the maintainers of the mailbox-holding machines).

But when it comes to interacting with those with whom no a priori
knowledge of the acceptability of such rudeness exists, it is, well,
rude. Yes, I consider it rude to top-post, especially without
bothering to edit down the replied-to text at all, a behaviour which in
my experience is almost invariably present in top-posted responses. I
find it rude because it's lazy and/or arrogant: the subtext I see is
either "my time is more important than yours, so I'll make you take the
time to match up reply fragments with replied-to fragments rather than
doing that myself" or "you have nothing occupying your mind but this
conversation with me, so you don't need to be reminded of what's being
replied to by the fragments of my reply". They are especially
egregious when sending to a mailing list; it multiplies the
cost-shifting aspect of the former by the number of list members and it
makes the latter even more surely false than in a one-to-one

> That doesn't mean real standards should be thrown away, just that we
> need to start adapting to the world that's evolved, not stubbornly
> demand that everyone be like us.

Standards like politeness? Evolution like widespread rudeness?

No, thank you. Even if I'm alone in it, I will continue to strive to
be polited; and I continue to consider rudeness rude no matter how
widespread it is.

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Received on Thu Feb 24 2005 - 21:58:13 GMT

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