How do I quote correctly in Usenet? - Attribution

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1. Attribution

1.1 How do I attribute a quotation?

Many newsreaders allow the user to define a certain pattern which will automatically be inserted in the reply. Quite often this "introduction" (from here on referred to as "attribution") can be quite lengthy:

On Monday, October 13th 1753,
the user *Aqua Blubb*
with the email-address *aqua@blubb.blubber.de*
spoke the following words with respect to the topic
*Waterbubbles in the Fishtank*:

These novels, even if embedded into a (at least from the author's viewpoint) funny sentence, are absolutely unnecessary - instead one should reply using the standard technique of the following schema:

User C. wrote:
> User B. wrote:
> > User A. wrote:
> > > blablabla
> > blubberblubber
> laberlaber

This way, it is easy to clearly identify who wrote what, by simply counting the quotation-marks at the beginning of each line (indention does facilitate this as well). Each time, only one line is being added. One can easily see which statements belong to which author.

The beginning of the posting decides if other people will continue to read the rest. If the first half of the screen is filled with garbage (or not quite as harsh: uninteresting, because already known text), many people don't even bother to read on.

On a side note: the so-called "funny" attributions don't look so funny after the third or forth posting, when everybody knows them already.

The attribution should concentrate on giving only the absolute necessary information and should not be longer than one line.

1.2 What should be part of the attribution, what shouldn't?

Most of the information given in the attribution line by most people is already part of the header of the posting. Generally it is therefore enough to use the name of the original poster as the attribution only. Alternatively, many people use the author's email address only or add it as well. But since it is easier to recognize a name than an email address, using the author's name makes more sense. Furthermore, people tend to use more than one email address to post into Usenet. Sometimes the given email address is even wrong, and only the additional Reply-To headers are correct, so that attributing the quoting with the wrong email address might be misleading.

Including the Message-ID into the attribution is similarly unnecessary, as this ID already is part of the message - it appears in the References header. Some people still add the Message-ID, since there are Gateways to other subnets that do not know about the References.

The newsgroup to which the response is being posted to does not need to be added into the attribution, as it as well is part of the header. When cross-posting to another newsgroup it might be useful to list the origin of the posting to facilitate the comprehension of the context.

The subject line is being displayed in the article-list as well as, quite commonly, in the head of the screen or window of your newsreader - therefore there's no need to add it to the attribution.

Adding the date of the article to which one responds to does not add any more information. Usually people respond to postings written during the last couple of days, so that the date should still be known to the reader - people who are interested in the precise date of the original posting are still able to track it down by following the replies up to the original. Only when responding to very old postings it does make sense to add the date of the original.

The local time, when the original article arrived on the author's machine is without interest to anybody. The date and/or location of creation does not need to be mentioned in the attribution. Both are already part of the article's headers.

In general, it is fully sufficient to attribute the quoted text as follows:

Firstname Lastname wrote:

When cross-posting or re-directing the discussion (Followup-To), it makes sense to add the original newsgroup to facilitate the context-comprehension for the readers:

Firstname Lastname wrote in de.old.newsgroup:


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