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

From: David Dorward <david@dorward.me.uk>
Date: Mon, 25 Apr 2005 15:11:04 +0100
To: w3c-wai-gl@w3.org
Message-ID: <20050425141104.GB27434@us-lot.org>

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

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 14:11:20 UTC

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