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How to reply

Tuesday, April 11, 2006 | 0 comments

Nowadays a lot of people reply in a way to email or postings on Usenet which I consider wrong: they put their reply above the quoted original writing (also called top posting). However, there is a very easy recipe to reply in what I (and many others) consider the right way:

A recipe for replying to mail and Usenet posts

  1. Quote the entire message you're replying to
  2. Delete blank lines inserted at the very top of the reply (if any)
  3. If your signature is inserted on top, delete it
  4. Move the cursor to the line after the name of the author you're replying to
  5. Read each quoted line from top to bottom
  6. If the line is not important for the reply, delete it
  7. If you delete several lines in a row, you might want to use a marker like: [..], ..., [cut], [snip]
  8. If you delete several lines but a hint for the context is required, put a short sentence between []
  9. If you reach a point that a reply is needed insert a blank line
  10. Start your reply on the line after the blank line
  11. When finished, go to 5. if there are quoted lines following
  12. If the program doesn't delete the signature of the person you're replying to, delete it yourself
  13. Reread carefully the message and try to delete more quoted lines

The whole idea of this recipe is that when you print your reply, and reread it after 3 months you should be able to read the reply top to bottom without much effort, being able to understand it, and know whom you're replying to.

If you reply to a message that has already quoted lines in it, make sure that the author of those lines is also mentioned in your reply unless you deleted all the lines he/she has written in your reply.

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