[FFmpeg-user] Top posting?

Jim DeLaHunt from.ffmpeg-user at jdlh.com
Wed Jul 25 19:57:02 EEST 2018

On 2018-07-25 08:11, Carl Zwanzig wrote:

 > I'm not the list owner nor one of the ffmpeg developers, just a 
long-time Internet user...

I also am not the list owner, nor one of the ffmpeg developers, either. 
I appreciate the effort which you, Carl, and the core developers, put 
into replying to queries on this list. But I have some advice for you 
and them.

On 2018-07-25 08:11, Carl Zwanzig wrote:
> It's long-standing practice that this list asks a few things of 
> members- one is that members don't "top post" their replies. This 
> means to put your comments _below_ those you're commenting on-
> what someoene else said
> my reply
> not-
> my reply
> what someone else said
> (Removing extraneous lines to trim the message is also helpful.) 

It's great that you have explained this time what you mean by "top 
posting". This is what it takes to make it clear to new list participants.

But that's not how I see frequent participants and core developers 
usually communicate the "do not top post" message. The most common way I 
see this communicated to new list participants is as a cryptic 
afterthought tacked on to another answer.

 > ... are the maximum bitrate reported by the stream.
 > Please do not top-post here, ....

 > ...you want into ffmpeg; that's what I would do.
 > (please don't top-post on this list)

My personal experience getting this rebuke is that a) it was not at all 
clear what they meant by "top posting", b) it was not clear that "top 
posting" is a phrase which has meaning on the Net at large, and that I 
could search for, and c) it didn't tell me what I _should_ do.

 >  A further explanation of "top posting" will be found in google or 
your favorite search engine .

Be wary of sending people to search. You have no control over what they 
will find. And the top response I get from my search, 
<https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Posting_style>, is long and descriptive. 
It does not send a strong message of "use excerpting and bottom posting".

What would be better, I believe, is a slightly clearer message, which 
points to a URL with fuller instructions. For instance, try this:

 > In your message, you "top-posted" your reply. In this list we want 
you to "excerpt and bottom-post" instead. See
for an explanation. Thank you!

Maybe frequent responders to this list might want to put this text into 
a personal FAQ file, and then copy it and paste it into your replies 
when needed.  That will save you from having to look up the URL every 
time you want to correct someone.

Does everyone know that the FFMpeg website already has this URL, and the 
beginnings of an explanation?  There is an fragment, with an example, at 

I can think of a lot of ways to improve that text. You can rewrite it to 
centre on what you _want_, not what you _don't_ want. You can improve 
the example: write an excerpt and put it in the answer, instead of 
linking to an message in the archives. You can add a companion negative 
example, to make it clear how a participant can go from the wrong way to 
the right way.
> Anyway, please don't do it.
If you really want to train new list participants to excerpt and 
bottom-post, then I believe that linking to that FAQ text, and improving 
that text, will pay dividends.

I hope this helps both the frequent responders and the new list 

     --Jim DeLaHunt, jdlh at jdlh.com     http://blog.jdlh.com/ (http://jdlh.com/)
       multilingual websites consultant

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