(un)professional e-mail skills -- was Re: JOB: Linux System Administrator

Levi Pearson levipearson at gmail.com
Fri Sep 17 10:18:23 MDT 2010

On Fri, Sep 17, 2010 at 9:39 AM, Michael Torrie <torriem at gmail.com> wrote:
> That's an amazingly creative insult!  And assuming quite a lot to boot.

Just following your lead.  You've been insulting all top-posters and
assuming they're all lazy.

> You'd guess wrong then.  The specific examples of the top-posting and
> not reading behavior I've experienced recently were definitely not the
> result of "long, wordy emails with multiple topics to reply to."  One
> involved a mere 4 sentences on my part.  They were relevant to his area
> of responsibility, and were legitimate questions.

OK, so you've observed a correlation between top-posting and not
reading email among your personal correspondents.  What does this tell
us, in general, about how top-posting relates to not reading email?
Pretty much nothing.

My personal experience is different.  It doesn't produce universal
correlations either, though.

> I'd post a specific example, but I doubt you'd read or care.  Top
> posting indeed has much to do with it.

You have not convinced me.  In order to give meaning to a correlation,
you have to show that it's not an artifact of your data set and that
there's some sort of causal theory involved.  You've suggested that
not top-posting would force people to read the email more thoroughly,
but I don't see how that's the case.  It's pretty easy to move the
cursor and delete a bunch of text without doing any deep reading.

You don't *really* care about top-posting, you care about people who
don't bother to read your emails.  I care about that, too.  It's
pretty annoying and rude.  But in my experience, pretty much all the
emails I get are top-posted and a good percentage of them exhibit
reading comprehension, so I have no reason to blame top-posting.

>> Grow up, guys.  There's a world outside of unixoid operating systems,
>> system administration, and internet tradition.  Not everyone cares
>> about what you care about.
> Did you even read what I wrote?  This isn't about tradition or "unixoid"
> stuff.  This is about professional business communication.

Email formatting is totally about tradition.  If you want to complain
that people don't read your emails, then complain about that instead
of complaining about how they format their emails.  For goodness sake,
it wasn't too long ago that using email for business correspondence at
all would be considered unprofessional, and I'll bet there were plenty
of people who failed to read their memos before replying then, too.


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