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RE: Top posting (and full quoting) (was Re: New: Perspectives on Accessibility)

From: Jamal Mazrui <Jamal.Mazrui@fcc.gov>
Date: Tue, 20 Oct 2009 13:08:22 -0400
Message-ID: <495842C725E7F8459B0460FC3A1060B10D58C356@P2PXMB01S1.fccnet.win.fcc.gov>
To: "David Dorward" <david@dorward.me.uk>
Cc: "John Foliot" <jfoliot@stanford.edu>, "Roger Hudson" <rhudson@usability.com.au>, "Phill Jenkins" <pjenkins@us.ibm.com>, "WAI Interest Group" <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>
I was not familiar with RFC 1855, so have just found and read it.
Indeed, it does recommend the quoting technique.  I doubt the authors
were familiar with the experience of screen reader users and considered
the effect of that recommendation on them.  

I am familiar with all popular Windows screen readers and know how to
script them.  None have features that significantly solve the quoting
problem, and I have not been able to think of a reliable way to script a
solution.  I know that quoting involves a set of conventions about >
signs, indentation, and color differentiation, but am not aware of an
algorithm to parse it reliably into a friendlier format for a screen
reader user.  Perhaps this should be the subject of a study or grant.

Personally, I find a quoting habit to sometimes be a cop out for
summarizing in one's own words the points to which one is responding.
It makes me think of a legalistic mindset where the person is not
willing to risk referencing previous points as needed within his or her
own sentences, but rather, has to sequentially quote a part of someone
verbatim, and then respond to each part.  This practice leads to
disjointed reading particularly when people impose layers of quoting
upon previous quotes.  If the length of accumulated top posts is a
concern, one approach is to only leave the last message and truncate all
prior messages in the correspondence.

Of course, it is the prerogative of list members to use the quoting
technique, but rest assured, they are thereby excluding many blind
readers who do not have the time to listen again to what they already
read in prior messages!


-----Original Message-----
From: David Dorward [mailto:dorward@gmail.com] On Behalf Of David
Sent: Tuesday, October 20, 2009 12:12 PM
To: Jamal Mazrui
Cc: John Foliot; Roger Hudson; Phill Jenkins; WAI Interest Group
Subject: Top posting (and full quoting) (was Re: New: Perspectives on

On 20 Oct 2009, at 16:52, Jamal Mazrui wrote:
> FYI -- Blind computer users tend to find top posting to

I've heard this before. I'm amazed that screen readers and email
software haven't developed to a point where they can cope yet. It was
almost a decade ago that I discovered that mutt (a free email client)
had the ability to skip past quoted material or hide it entirely. If
this is a problem - then please petition the authors of the software you
use to make it compatible with RFC 1855.

In the meantime - if you are going to top post, then please TRIM your
posts. I can do without needing to download five pages of content (the
email to which I'm responding, and it is not the worst offender I've
come across) to get half a page of new content - especially when I'm on
a slow mobile connection.

David Dorward
Received on Tuesday, 20 October 2009 17:09:12 UTC

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