45-2019 Every coin has two sides

Are you part of any email based mailing list ? Do you follow the discussions/conversations, on these email based communities ?

Recently, I came across a lecture on the perils of top posting: http://www.idallen.com/topposting.html . The person who posted this, used it for vehemently justifying the reason for his imposing bottom posting in the mailing list.

A longer lecture, which gives the whole picture, is available at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Talk:Posting_style.

In many practical situations, top posting makes more sense than bottom posting, both for the reader and the writer. Blindly and unconditionally condemning top posting is like putting the cart before the horse. It does not always make sense to post/view messages “chronologically” (as in bottom posting strategy) all the time. Imposing one or the other strategy blindly is a short-sighted policy which can cause more harm than good.

1. “Bottom posting” ensures that the last opinion expressed is at the very end of the message. This implies another irritating phenomenon. When some one adds a comment or opinion to the above, the comment \ opinion comes after the last opinion given earlier. Any body trying to get at the final opinion/comment has to go all over **again** all the earlier posts.

2. In many serious documents/publications, all the references are grouped and presented at the end of the document as a “Bibliography”. This avoids the need for the reader to read up all the background material before reading the main document.

3. When you watch the news, say election results, you want to know who won from which constituency. You do not want to know all the background stories about all the contestants, before you come to know about the results.

4. Imagine this scenario. You have a long thread “A” of discussion on a certain topic. A user X posts his opinion, views about A, using the bottom posting strategy. To read X, you have to go through all of A. Now comes Y with his view/opinion and bottom posts his view . To read Y, you have to go through all of A once again and then read X. In the end, you have a nightmare of posts.

5. By contrast to the above, in the top posted pile, you first read Y, and decide whether or not you want to to read X and A. Life become far easier now.

In short, it is a wiser approach to let the writer use his judgement and choose either top posting or bottom posting. Taking the context into account is more meaningful (and less myopic) than imposing one or the other approach blindly. After all, every coin has two sides.

May wisdom prevail. Amen.