Warming up for subjecting our hosts to gales of nazzling and peevage, I present this lightly toasted peeve:
It would seem an obvious feature for mailers to figure out (from the time stamp) the order of quoted messages (presumably, allowing each embedded quote to retain its identity, when it’s quoted) and allow readers to display messages with multiple layers of quotes in consistent order: either top-posted or bottom-posted, with the option to hide all but the most recently quoted material.
One “conversation” in my gmail account is up to 27 entries…and some folks have been top-quoting, others bottom-quoting, to the point that it’s been impossible to figure out what the most recent posts in the conversation have been responding to. Of course, that’s partly because they’re little conversational snippets along the lines of “great!” and such, so it’s not terribly important…but there have been times when it’s been very difficult to follow.
One problem is, I think, that business communication (and mail readers designed therefor) tends to favor top-posting, on the logic that the newest info is the most important – while with personal communication, arguably bottom-posting makes better sense (particularly if writers edit the quoted material to its essentials rather than leaving the entire thread intact. Such intactness is a benefit in the business world, where it forms a virtual paper trail, but just pointless wasted space in most personal communication). It seems to me that gmail, with its default setting of hiding quoted text, is intended primarily for personal communication and designed for bottom-posting. Personally, top-posting has made little sense to me since, unless the message being responded to is only a line or so, it forces readers who want to read the whole thing to repeatedly go up and down the page…whereas bottom-posting preserves a natural reading order, and is (by me) preferred so long as it’s clear where the new material begins.