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Re: [vox] [OT] Quoting style (was Re: ... Sig line [ newbie annoyed with tin ])
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Re: [vox] [OT] Quoting style (was Re: ... Sig line [ newbie annoyed with tin ])

on Wed, Jan 29, 2003 at 08:32:24AM -0800, Eric Eisenhart (lugod-vox@eric.eisenhart.name) wrote:
> On Wed, Jan 29, 2003 at 02:08:58AM +0000, Karsten M. Self wrote:

> I don't remember which BBSes or which BBS message networks now, but sometime
> back around 1992-1993 I remember seeing a variation of this quoting style
> used.  Actually, I'm pretty sure that it was on some of the Citadel
> networks, many of which actually used a "paragraph" oriented system where a
> newline only appeared at the end of a paragraph (not at the end of "lines")
> and the BBS software was responsible for wrapping that to the correct length
> for the individual reader.  (some of whom might be using 40 column displays)
> The limitations of the online text-editors built into the BBSes at that time
> probably didn't help any, either.
> More like
>          Bob said, >> First off - quake is simply incredible.  It lets you 
>          repeatedly kill your boss in the office without being arrested. <<
>          Fred said, >> Yeah, you're so right, Bob! <<

Note that this arguably *less* clear than:

    Bob: First off - quake is simply incredible.  It lets you repeatedly
       kill your boss in the office without being arrested. 

    Fred: Yeah, you're so right, Bob!

...a style which is markedly older:  it's how play scripts are written
(for more on *this* rant, see: 


> Color or bold helped immensely with this

This builds in a reliance on the viewing client.  This works in a closed
environment where the client is controlled or known.  Email doesn't
allow for such assumptions.  Frequently the Web doesn't either.

> >    - It's hard to tell how many *levels* of quoting are being presented
> >      E.g.:  what's the difference between:
> Levels of quoting is a slight misdefinition of the problem; knowing
> who said what and who was responding to what is the bigger issue.
> Having to keep track of levels of quoting further down in a message
> can make figuring out who said what difficult.

Fair enough.

> Your examples aren't bad with all >> and an attribution included on *each
> quote at the beginning, outside the quotes.  (and proper paragraph breaks!)

I disagree.  In multiple levels of statement/response, it's not clear
what precedence is.  ESR's suggested style handles this case.

> This is a problem with any quoting style when mishandled by the user.  If we
> each left a trace of previous levels in and didn't properly edit, there'd be
> something like
> > > > > > > > > > > > Fish taste good!

This calls for appropriate trimming of context.  I also agree that 2-3
levels of history are about the the top limit.  Hence my selection of a
72 column line width, which allows a maximum of about five levels of
quotation, should they be required.

> becomes nontrivial when the quotes aren't right next to each other.

Speaking of color...  Mutt color highlights text blocks based on indent
level.  This makes identifying direct and quoted material fairly

> > It's called writing for clarity.
> Unfortunately, any quoting style can be mangled right out of any
> semblance of clarity by users that don't care and don't understand how
> to properly use the quoting style in use in a particular cultural
> niche.

It's called education.  Fortunately for the educators, nature provides
an unending stream of those in need of enlightenment.

> Haven't you ever seen the "proper" quoting style for email and usenet
> mangled into something like the following?
> > > >> > > And really, how many Karsten M. Self's do you thing there are in
> > > the world? 

Yes.  It's a blantant abuse of quote prefixes -- they're not random
characters to prepent mindlessly to a line.  It's why my standard quote
rant reads:

    Please use postfix quoting format:  your reply goes below the
    material cited.  Trim your quotes appropriately and ensure your
    attributions are accurate.  

I'll note that the perpetrator is misattributing quotes (often either
mine or to me).  I'll tidy this in dire instances.  More likley I'll
respond to the author with the above note, suggest they fix the problem 
and delete the original.  

As I said earlier, this is about writing for ease of comprehension.
There's plenty to read without forcing me to wade through gibberish,
poorly formed content, or bastardized quotation history.  Particularly
if I'm not being compensated for the pain.


Karsten M. Self <kmself@ix.netcom.com>        http://kmself.home.netcom.com/
 What Part of "Gestalt" don't you understand?
   Remember Ed Curry!  http://www.iwethey.org/ed_curry/
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