[FFmpeg-user] top posting issue

Phil Turmel philip at turmel.org
Thu Feb 4 16:23:05 CET 2016

Hi Roman,

On 02/04/2016 04:46 AM, Roman wrote:
> Hi,
> I've seen many times people asking/forcing not to top-post to the list...
> So here I've got a question.. Why ?

Long-time lurker here, infrequent poster, so take this as an outsider's

People who *ask* questions on mailing lists like this one are only
reading their own mails and the responses to them.  The people who
*answer* questions are reading mails from many people and want to keep
track of many topics with minimal effort.

Threaded e-mail clients are very efficient for the latter, and
top-posting makes threaded e-mails look very bad.  Many such people also
only use text view -- no html.  The standards for quoting e-mail in text
mode (using > characters) were established long before web browsers even

I, personally and professionally, avoid html email like the plague, as
it is a primary vector for malware attacks and big business data collection.

> Most of programs, including gmail app
> and gmail web come with top posting by default and this is the way all
> people are used to read mail. Why the hell one should scroll down to see
> the last post if it is very ok to see the last post on the top of incming
> e-mail.

Microsoft started the top-posting default in Outlook many years ago.  I
don't know why.  But when webmail became common, many webmail interfaces
deliberately followed Outlook's style to gain acceptance.

> Where such attitude/culture comes from? Anyone to explain?

I'm sure some of the resistance to top-posting is a vestige of
anti-Microsoft sentiment among developers, but I suspect the bulk is
really about readability in text-mode threaded e-mail clients.  Mails
that look good in threaded mail clients also look good in the web
archives, making google searches work better.

It is important to realize that in the open-source world, many if not
most developers are volunteers.  So asking for help is asking for a
volunteer to help you.  Many volunteers will simply ignore you if you
fail to follow their advice, whether on the technical content or the
etiquette.  FFmpeg has published their email guidelines prominently on
their website.

Finally, you received an answer from *one* major developer of ffmpeg,
Nicolas George, then silence.  He and his peers are the ones you most
want to help you, so help them help you by sending email the way they
want to see it, not the way you want to send it.

That's your answer.



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