What's wrong with Jeopardy-style?

I just ran across this bitching about Jeopardy-style quoting, ie. when you have your reply at the top, and the thing you’re replying to at the bottom.

I never understood people’s problem with that. I understand it in theory, it reads more naturally when you have the thing you’re replying to first, and then your reply below. But that’s not how I process mail.

Most of the time, I’ll already have an idea about what the thread is about, either because it’s a reply to something I wrote myself, or because it’s part of a thread I’m following. So the common case is that I just want to read the new part and not bother with the quotation.

Every once in a while, I do need to dive in and find out the context, and in that case it’s right there, and I don’t mind reading backwards, because that way I can read just far enough for me to understand it, then stop.

When the post is a point-by-point response to some other post, sure, I want it chronologically. But those are fairly rare.

My user experience with non-jeopardy style is that I often have to actively grab my mouse and scroll past all the things I already saw before, before I can see the new stuff and judge whether it’s even worth reading.

Bottom line, it makes it slower to follow a mailing list where you’re not 100% interested in 100% of the posts, which happens to be the case for 100% of the mailing lists I’m subscribed to.

1 comment


Guess that is has to do with the traditional view on quoting, ie. that you insert comments between paragraphs of the original text. As you indicate, the emergent speed of human e-mail processing has made this "formatting work" too much hassle for most web-savvy people to bother about. A compromise might be to make some semi-automatic way of commenting where you place the cursor exactly where you're reply is needed, and the application adds spacing and formats to whatever you write. However, how often would this actually be needed? Most people create entire narratives of their own when they construct their responses.
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