Bottom-post quoting within Mac's Mail app

12 October 2015, 05:00

Linux types {shudder} always insist on starting a new reply beneath an email they’re replying to, rather than above it. This is referred to as bottom-posting. It’s how things used to be done when you had to hire room-sized computers for a precious 30 minutes before the boys from Astronomy got back onto it to work out Pluto’s erratic orbit.

Want to do this within the Mac’s Mail app? You’ll need the QuoteFix plugin.

You’re welcome.

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Thanks! The inability to automatically use a sensible message order (you know, one where the question comes first and then the response comes second, like the way we actually communicate) is one of the biggest reasons I have rejected every version of Mail.app to date, despite its many other improvements. I’m not so much a fan of Thunderbird, as I hate it less than the alternatives; maybe this’ll finally let me switch.

— nat · Mar 25, 10:16 AM · #

According to the Internet Standards Document RFC1855 from 1995 (https://www.ietf.org/rfc/rfc1855.txt) email must always use bottom-posting. And for the earliest years of the internet’s life – going right back to the first email of 1971 – bottom-posting was the norm because it was used by humans who (quite correctly) ask a query before offering a response.

Then Outlook happened.

Microsoft Outlook (and its free sibling Outlook Express that shipped with Windows 98) was obviously designed by aliens from another planet where time flows backwards to how it does on Earth, because it puts the response first and then provides the query. Of course, one could easily change to bottom-posting in the software’s settings, but most Windows users weren’t even aware settings existed, let alone know that the defaults were wrong, and with Windows machines becoming the dominant life-form on the internet, top-posting became commonplace.

The rot extended to Mac OS with ‘Office for Mac 98’ and its companion ‘Outlook Express for Mac’ soon became the de facto email client on our platform as well, and it too defaulted to top-posting. Prior to this, the most common Mac email program was Qualcomm Eudora which, since its inception in 1988, could ONLY do bottom-posting, even on the Windows version, and defaulted to NOT quoting email in a reply as it was considered superfluous – thread-tracking meant you could see the original message in the viewing pane above your new email.

Steve used Eudora, even when he was at NeXT, and NEVER included quoted content in an email reply; this was evident in Apple Mail 1.0 which defaulted to not-quoting and bottom-posting if quoting enabled. Mail 1.0 was a horrible app, and the team responsible for Mail 2.0 were ex-pats from Microsoft’s Mac Business Unit, who re-instated top-posting. Because Steve never quoted in his emails, he never told the Mail team what they were doing was wrong, and now top-posting is still the default.

Me, I use Gyaz e-Mail, a modernised clone of Eudora that is still actively developed, and it too bottom-posts … which is good, because GMail started marking emails with multiple-quoted (reply of a reply of a reply) content as spam, so I know all my emails will get through.

Oh, and don’t try to send top-posted email to any of my email addresses, they’ll be auto-bounced for not conforming to RFC1855.

— Hyram · Aug 3, 07:39 PM · #

 
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