|Sven Guckes email@example.com ©1995-2009||
Latest change: Sat Mar 21 01:46:03 CET 2009
You can make Email look like paper mail - but that does not make it the same. If you basically want to send a picture with your own handwriting and coffee stains etc then you should get a piece of paper and use snail mail. Sure, you could write a mail, scan it in and send it in encoded form via email - but that requires a scanner, additional software and most of all - knowledge. If you don't have any of these then you should ask someone to send it as a FAX for you.
The appearance of paper mail usually is fixed and can also have some color to it. But, mind you, the appearance of email depends on the kind of program used to show it.
Email is usually replied to with a mail program which allows you to easily include the previous text in a quoted form - and the quoted text can be used to give a direct reference to your additional text. Quoting is a big advantage of email replies - use it!
Furthermore, please consider that your text just might be read by a visually impaired ("blind") person. Simply formatting and removal of unnecessary text can speed up their reading a *lot*. So, for them - edit your text. Thank you!
> You said you wrote a guide on email style - where is it? The page is available at the address http://www.guckes.net/mail/edit.htmlNote that every line of the quoted text is prefixed with "> " (two characters - a greater than sign followed by a space) and that there is an empty line following the quoted text. Thus you get separate paragraphs - one paragraph of quoted text and one paragraph of reply. This is helpful as most editors can easily operate on a paragraph, such as reformatting the text with a different maximum of line length (VIM-5: gqip) or simply delete it (VIM: dip).
However, people do not seem to know how to deal with it. Many mails are hard to read as they suffer from basic errors:
Furthermore, some mailers mangle the mail as well:
From: JOEDOE@VAX.LUSER.COM To: message-editing(at)guckes.net Subject: WHADDAYA MEAN - LOWER CASE? I AM NOT ABLE TO WRITE IN LOWERCASE LETTERS AS I COULD NOT BE BOTHERED TO FIND THE LOWERCASE KEY ON THIS MACHINE YET. JOEDOEWell, text in all capital letters is hard to read - especially if you read it as if the person is shouting at you.
From: firstname.lastname@example.org To: message-editing(at)guckes.net Subject: My screen is wider than your screen Why should I restrict myself to 80 columns when there is enough space on my monitor to show all? Really, I cannot understand what you are complaining about - after all the prices for 21" monitors have fallen so much now that you can afford one for your computer at home and one for your laptop. Our company makes great monitors and you can buy them from us for only a few thousand dollars. Mr. BigScreenSo Mr. BigScreen does not care. But it's easy to see that such a text looks better wrapped to 80 columns:
From: email@example.com To: message-editing(at)guckes.net Subject: Re: My screen is wider than your screen > I wonder what you'll say when you have to use an 80 column terminal. Well, since the last crash at Wall Street I have had to sell both my 21" monitors and my laptop. I am now using the PC of a friend who just has a 9" display and now I can see only 80 columns at my terminal. It has been a sad experience but now I appreciate getting mails that are wrapped such that I can read them without reformatting them. Mr. BigScreen on 80 column terminalGee, that's better, isn't it? (Sorry about that crash, Mr. BigScreen!)
From: firstname.lastname@example.org To: message-editing(at)guckes.net Subject: How do I edit text? Dear Mr. Guckes Thank you for you letter explaining how to use an editor program to prepare text for sending as E-Mail via the Internet. We would like to ask you blah blah blah and would like to hear from you again soon. Yours sincerely Ms. Emily Newbie Secretary at Newbie Inc.This is a typical letter from people who think everyone is using Windows and that windows are usually one meter wide and four feet high. Well, those empty lines don't get lost and actually add up (surprise!). Moreover, you cannot see where a paragraph ends as every non-empty line is its own paragraph because it is followed by an empty line.
Thank God there are some people out there you seem to know what they are doing.
From: email@example.com To: message-editing(at)guckes.net Subject: Editing text with VIM Hi! Thank you for hint on VIM - it's a great editor! I read the helpfile with ":help gq" and found that "gqip" reformats the current paragraph. It's amazing that the quotation prefix is preserved. It's real fast and I like it a lot. However, I could not find the other text you told me about. Can you send me a copy? Well, my secretary still has a lot to learn. It took me half a year to train her to make coffee. Next year she'll probably take a course or two at writing letters on *real* paper... Guy LeBig (Boss)Well, that text is a lot better. However, there is no reference to my mail and it has no quoted text so I don't know which text I referred him to. (Remember - there may have been more than just one email between me and him.) Thus I cannot send him the desired text without digging up a copy of my mail or asking him again. And if neither he nor I have a copy of it then we both won't know what we were talking about. Therefore - quoting pays!
Especially Netscape and Outlook (two very popular Windows mail clients... and remember, most people use Windows, unfortunately) seem to think that HTML email is so likely to save the world that it should be the default.
Usually this feature inserts so many HTML commands (tags) that it is impossible to read the text within it. And then you find that the mailer itself can view its own HTML additions properly. And rarely ever does the HTML improve the text itself even when viewed with an appropriate mailer.
Some mailers can send the HTMLized text to the web browser of your choice - but have you ever tried to start Netscape on a slow machine just for reading a few lines of text? It's annoying to say the least. And a good reason to not bother others with it.
Furthermore, the additonal HTML makes it harder to print emails and adds at least the same amount of data to your email log. This simply makes for less efficient storage, as HTML encoding is additional overhead.
Worst of all, some mailers seem to think that the ultimate solution to everyone's problems is to send the message as BOTH text and HTML. Now perhaps I'm being pedantic, but how does sending over DOUBLE the original message make for a better system? Simply, it doesn't.
Fortunately, both Outlook and Netscape Messenger have this feature as options and actually allow you to send messages as text only. So if you should use either of these programs (or another one that has this kewl feature) then please have mercy on the "presentationally challenged" people - and turn off that feature. Thank you!
Pine4 now has native support for HTML, but version 3 didn't, So even when you receive mail from a fellow Pine user - check his version first before you send him email. Unfortunately, Pine does not identify itself with a "User-Agent:" header line to make it easy to see, so you need to look at the Message-ID line and figure it out for yourself. (But that's actually another item for yet another rant. ;-)
Furthermore, you never know how to reply to such a reply yourself. Does the reader prefer your reply to be at the top or at the bottom?
Either way - this makes it very hard to follow a conversation.
From: firstname.lastname@example.org To: example @guckes.net Subject: Super Cite is super cool >>>>> "Sven" == Sven Guckes <address> writes: Sven> > Sven> Couldn't you please quote with "> "? Sven> > Sven> It would make reformatting the text easier. Sven> > I don't do that. It takes too much time for me. Sven> > Besides, SuperCite is cool. Sven> It just takes a command to reformat the text. Sven> And it thus allows for further quite levels. Well, I don't know the command. Why should I? Superman
All but SuperCite itself know how to handle this kind of quoting. So you could say that it is incompatible with all other clients. Once a text was quoted by SuperCite you need to get SuperCite to continue handling it - or you simply continue to use the quoting style of your client and hope that all replies to your message come from people using SuperCite which then can clean up the different quoting levels and make the text readable again with less quoting characters.
But one of the worst forms of over-quoting is the "full quote":
From: email@example.com To: example @guckes.net Subject: Re: full quote - who cares > From: message-editing(at)guckes.net > To: firstname.lastname@example.org > Subject: Re: full quote - who cares > > Hello, again! > > Please don't quote in full - but *edit* your mails. > > Sven I have a 100 Gigabyte disk - don't you? CarelessActually, this is still a "short" example of what happens - some people quote all those Received lines, too. :-(
This both wastes bandwidth *and* time as I have to reread the full text just to find out what it was all about. You can guess that this makes my mail log a *lot* bigger.
I do have a script to weed header lines from mail - but it's a simple script, so it cannot decide whether it should strip them, as quoted header lines in a mail can be used as an example of the discussion, or whether they were just carelessly quoted.
[chain emails and spams] > why don't you just delete those mails and be done with it? simple - I feel I can save the world from spams and I must report those offenders to every police station on the planet. Anti-SpamWell, here the topic is depicted with a few words at the beginning - good. My text has been trimmed down to just quote my question thus saving on bandwith and mail log size. Very well! But even though this person's efforts are for a good cause I'd suggest decaf coffee and the use of a (mail) filter.
Quoting Sven Guckes: > blah blah blah > blah blah blah > blah blah blah > blah blah blah > > more blah blah blah > more blah blah blah > more blah blah blah I don't get it. Please explain in more detail! JoeDoe -- email@example.comARGH! Not even does the person say what he does not understand - but he even sends back a full quote.
Now what could I do? Send back a full quote myself and ask for clarification? No, this would be against my principles at it would just waste bandwidth. So I just send a note asking to reread my mail. Unfortunately these people usually do not keep a mail log, either. *sigh*
Hi! What is pico? PineApple -- firstname.lastname@example.org > To delete lines in pico you type ... > [detailed explanation here] > > SvenAs you can see here, the user of PINE answered by writing text at the very start, placing the quoted text *after* his signature. Most users of PINE are easily identified by just that - "quote after sig". The reason for this probably is that they do not want to use the style of "quote some text and answer it right away" due to their ignorance of PINEs setup options and the limitations of the standard editor, pico.
The option that PINE users seem to be missing is the badly chosen default for the option "signature-at-bottom" which is to place signatures *before* the quoted text. This can be a good thing when there is lots to quote - but usually there isn't. Anyway, this setting can easily be changed (see Setup->Config->signature-at-bottom).
Thus PINE users get put into the editor with the cursor at the start before their signature and the quoted text after the signature.
PINE's default setup gives them the editor "pico" to compose their texts. (Btw, Pico is distributed with PINE - and only with PINE!) Pico does not have many features - and that's *the* feature! Moving text requires to set the start of a text block, then move to the end and mark it, then delete the marked block, move to another postition and finally insert the text again. The hard part is moving around as pico does not have many comamnds for this. So moving text can take a lot of time and effort as you cannot jump around easily. As a result, quoted text hardly ever gets broken up, leaving a solid block of quoted text. And that's *bad*, PINE users!
Remember: A powerful editor can give users the possiblity to perform a complex operation within a few keystrokes - but ignorant users will write bad texts no matter what. Good documentation and help by an experienced user can help a lot, but the user himself must still decide on what to send.
The command "forward" is implemented differently with mailers. Some take the whole mail and include it in the body - unquoted, some quote it, and some weed out the header.
Whatever mailer you have - please delete the stuff that is not interesting! Most header lines are not interesting. And you need not send the whole mail. Edit, edit edit!!
Some people manage to even quote even more than the body of the mail. I get full headers, undeleted corrected lines, signatures with quotes, ascii graphics - all the stuff that usually is unnecessary:
From: email@example.com To: message-editing(at)guckes.net Subject: Hey, look! >From aol.com!spam Fri Nov 1 00:00:00 1996 >Return-Path:What should I look at here? Does this person expect any repsonse? Just what was the reason to send this, anyway?
>Received: by kill.the.tele.com (/\=-/\ Smail126.96.36.199 #42.42) >id ; Fri, 1 Nov 96 00:00 MET >Received: by kill.the.tele.com (8.6.13/TeleCom) >id TRALALA1; Fri, 1 Nov 1996 00:00:00 -0000 >Date: Fri, 1 Nov 1996 00:00:00 -0000 >From: firstname.lastname@example.org (spam Spam SPAM) >Message-Id: <199611010000.TRALALA1@kill.the.tele.com> >To: email@example.com (Die Torfnase) >Subject: Good Times Virus >Organization: Virus Spam Inc >Status: RO > >Thought you might like to know... > >Apparently, a new computer virus has been engineered by a user of >America Online that is unparalleled in its destructive capability. >Other, more well-known viruses such as Stoned, Airwolf, and >Michaelangelo pale in comparison to the prospects of this >newest creation by a warped mentality. > >What makes this virus so terrifying is the fact that no program >needs to be exchanged for a new computer to be infected. It >can be spread through the existing e-mail systems of the InterNet. > >Luckily, there is one sure means of detecting what is now known >as the "Good Times" virus. [...] Torfnase -- This is my signature and my |<00l S1g!!1! I am against putting my name and addresses in my signature because I want to protect my data. Support fri speach!!!!
By the way, if you don't know what the "Good Times Virus" is - well, it's a hoax. Please read the following pages:
From: firstname.lastname@example.org To: message-editing(at)guckes.net Subject: spel checka? Yo, there!!1! I dunt car3e if haf spelled anyth1n wrong cuz U w1ll underastnd redin ma repliez carefull enuf. 1 dont hafza t1me to check ma mails with a spel checa becoz I must send more each dsay tahn 1 recief! dont have a COW maaaaaaaaaaaan B1ffI wonder if this person know what spell checkers have been invented for. Is it worth the time to argue with these people? Well, if such a mail will be rejected by /dev/null because it is too good to dump then I will take the time to reply to it.
The purpose of MIME with mails is to structure included information - not to send every little text in multipart form.
Here is an example for such a "multimedia mail":
From email@example.com Fri Oct 20 11:11:11 2000 From: Sven Guckes <message-editing(at)guckes.net> To: Sven Guckes <message-editing(at)guckes.net> Date: Fri, 20 Oct 2000 11:11:11 +0200 Subject: MIME Test Mime-Version: 1.0 Content-Type: multipart/mixed; boundary="82I3+IH0IqGh5yIs" Content-Disposition: inline --82I3+IH0IqGh5yIs Content-Type: text/plain; charset=us-ascii Content-Disposition: inline Here is some text that explains why I am sending this attachment.. --82I3+IH0IqGh5yIs Content-Type: image/gif Content-Description: SHE! Content-Disposition: attachment; filename="she.gif" Content-Transfer-Encoding: base64 «encoded data of the picture "she.gif"» --82I3+IH0IqGh5yIs--As you can see, the header line "Mime-Version: 1.0" goes along with "Content-Type:" which defines the "boundaries" of other parts within the mail. This allows the client program (read: your mailer) to separate the parts. After the "boundary line" there are some more Content- Lines which describe its content further. These info allow that the data can be decoded correctly and also saved into a file with a given filename.
Now you should have an above average understanding of "multimedia". ;-)
Well, here is my view on this: My email address is at a university. We are not very formal around here. We usually just say "Hi!" - and that's it.
With sesond and further replies I will use "Hello, again!" to indicate that I have replied before.
When I write reply in German I will say "Hallo!", though.
And only when I know the person personally (or when I have exchanged a lot of emails) I'll use the name after the hello, too:
|English||How do I quote correctly in Usenet||http://www.netmeister.org/news/learn2quote.html|
|German||Wie zitiere ich im Usenet?||
|Dutch||Hoe te quoten in Usenet||http://www.houghi.org/quote/|
001019 Chris Boulter chris(at)jellybaby.net 981110 Anthony Di Pietro anthony(at)dino.omen.com.au
"Alas, I am guilty guilty guilty of overquoting! I also jaywalk alot in NY. I'll give up the overquoting, but the jaywalking is an addiction! :)" --Adam Brothers abrothers(at)comfax.com 
Copies found on the Net: version of 2001-11-11 [found on 2009-03-21]: http://www.river.com/users/share/etiquette/edit.html version of 2000-09-13 [found on 2009-03-21]: http://www.genome.iastate.edu/community/angenmap/mail-style.html
English: "The Quoting Page" [2003-09-22] [by Martin 'Herbert' Dietze]: http://herbert.the-little-red-haired-girl.org/en/quoting/index.html "Preventing Digital Divides in Email" [by Val T.]: http://members.pcug.org.au/~val/writing/email/mail1.htm "Salvisberg Software & Consulting: Links": http://www.salvisberg.com/links/index.hts "SIMILE Project | How to Contribute" http://simile.mit.edu/contribute.html "Contribution to Apache Cocoon" http://blackdogair.com/hp_docs/xmltools/cocoon_manual/contrib.html "Email Style" http://www.mindspring.com/~digitect/email.html "Netetiquette Guidelines" http://www.evonet.be/~filipvr/netetiquette.html "Rock and Woodland Gardener and Listowner's Web and 'net Toolbox" http://members.peak.org/~parsont/rockgard/MyToolbox.htm German: "E-Mails stressfrei: Früher war alles besser" [2004-10-27] https://www.tschlotfeldt.de/node/14 "Internet - E-Mail-Regeln @ Michael Prokop" http://michael-prokop.at/internet/mail.html "pi's Einführung in Network News (Usenet)" http://piology.org/news/ "Internet - Verhaltensempfehlungen" http://dettmer.maclab.org/sonstige_links.html "Richtiger Umgang mit E-Mail und News!" http://www.grue.at/internet/index.html Finnish: "Sähköpostinetiketti - Tietokone ja tietoverkot työvälineenä" "Lisätietoa" http://appro.mit.jyu.fi/doc/tyovaline/email/netiketti.html French: "Connexion à Internet sous RISC OS" "Quelques liens concernant la netiquette et autres choses à savoir" http://www.vinc17.org/acorn/internet.html Italian: "GCN Wiki - QuotarBene" "Piccola guida per imparare a quotare" http://wiki.news.nic.it/QuotarBene Indonesian?: "Mengelola Millis bagi yang Awam" - "Contoh rule of conduct": http://www.unhas.ac.id/~rhiza/arsip/arsip-macam2/milis.html 2009-12-09 http://www.fsdaily.com/Beginner/E_mail_usage_in_the_Free_Software_community by Matthias Kirschner