W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > w3c-wai-gl@w3.org > April to June 2005

RE: Accessible quotation style in email (was Re: HTML messages)

From: John M Slatin <john_slatin@austin.utexas.edu>
Date: Mon, 25 Apr 2005 10:14:26 -0500
Message-ID: <6EED8F7006A883459D4818686BCE3B3B7AE2B9@MAIL01.austin.utexas.edu>
To: "David Dorward" <david@dorward.me.uk>, <w3c-wai-gl@w3.org>

David Dorward wrote:
<blockquote>

My tools handle it very nicely: Mutt (my mail client) recognises quoted
material, lets me tap S to skip past the current block of quoted
material and T to toggle quoted material on and off. Emacs (my mail
editor) automatically rewraps overly long lines of quoted text while
moving the greater than characters about so they are still at (and only
at) the beginning of the line.
</blockquote>

Well, maybe someday I'll move to Linux.  In the meantime...

As I pointed out to someone who wrote me off-list, the print world has
had effective conventions for handling quotations for a whole lot longer
than email has had them.

I think the problem is that the *line* isn't semantically significant
when you're quoting. I suspect that marking the beginning of each quoted
line (as opposed to the beginning and *end* of aquoted passage) is an
artifact of building mail clients around line editors.  That made sense
in 1963 (ASCII) and 1971 (FTP), and there are places where it makes
sense now.  But text-based discussion isn't one of them.

John

"Good design is accessible design." 
John Slatin, Ph.D.
Director, Accessibility Institute
University of Texas at Austin
FAC 248C
1 University Station G9600
Austin, TX 78712
ph 512-495-4288, f 512-495-4524
email jslatin@mail.utexas.edu
web http://www.utexas.edu/research/accessibility/


 



-----Original Message-----
From: w3c-wai-gl-request@w3.org [mailto:w3c-wai-gl-request@w3.org] On
Behalf Of David Dorward
Sent: Monday, April 25, 2005 9:11 am
To: w3c-wai-gl@w3.org
Subject: Accessible quotation style in email (was Re: HTML messages)



On Mon, Apr 25, 2005 at 08:52:19AM -0500, John M Slatin wrote:
> (And while we're at it, could someone please invent a new convention 
> for marking quoted mail messages? The convention of prepending a 
> greater-than sign in front of each quoted line each time it's been 
> quoted becomes very distracting when you listen to it

I see this as a tools issue. The convention that ">" at the start of a
line indicates a quotation has been around for a very long time.

My tools handle it very nicely: Mutt (my mail client) recognises quoted
material, lets me tap S to skip past the current block of quoted
material and T to toggle quoted material on and off. Emacs (my mail
editor) automatically rewraps overly long lines of quoted text while
moving the greater than characters about so they are still at (and only
at) the beginning of the line.

The technique of using > characters makes it very easy to identify (both
by eye and in software) what material is quoted. The trouble is that
most software *doesn't* (but should, so complain to the software
authors).

On the other hand, when people use other techniques for indicating
quoted material (especially Outlook style top posting followed by the
Original Message) I often find it very difficult to work out which text
is a response to which other text.

Idle musing: An IMAP or POP3 proxy that takes plain text emails and
converts them to HTML formatted email replacing ">" with <blockquote>
(also good for web archives), and an SMTP proxy that does the reverse.
I'm slightly tempted to look into writing one myself, but I have too
many projects on the go already.


-- 
David Dorward                                      http://dorward.me.uk
Received on Monday, 25 April 2005 15:14:31 UTC

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.3.1 : Wednesday, 5 February 2014 23:39:37 UTC