How do I quote correctly in Usenet? - Quotationmarks
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Use the "Greater-Than" character (">"). This character is recognized as a
quotationmark by almost every newsreader and is mentioned in the netiquette as
such for technical reasons (Son-Of-RFC 1036 and successors).
Different people have different opinions on this topic. Some people think
that it is more aesthetically pleasing to have a space after each quotationmark.
Other people argue that this way each level of quotation adds two characters
and this way postings can more easily get over the 80 characters per line. On
the other hand it is only seldom necessary to quote more than two or three
people before responding.
Other people like it better if the quoted text starts right after the
quotation-mark. But some people don't like this for aesthetic reasons - it is
harder to read, they argue. Another disadvantage of this technique is that the
keyword-search provided by most newsreaders is unable to differentiate between
a word and a word with a quotationmark.
A compromise can be made by simply adding a space only after the last
quotationmark, not adding any between two following quotationmarks. The
disadvantage of this technique is considered to be that the quotationmark when
quoting such an article is indented a little bit, thus disabling a consequent
In the end, it's up to you which solution you prefer - all the three
possibilities described here are common on Usenet and all have their own people
who willingly defend their technique vehemently.
No - and for the following reasons:
- Space. Obviously it does not matter very much when quoting only on lower
levels, but it happens every now and then that four, five, six or even seven
levels of quotation take place (if you don't believe this, you should take a
look into de.talk.bizarre). However, usually
people don't have the additional space to the right to allow for 80 characters
per line after the quotation mark.
Defenders of the initials usually argue that the correct usage of the initials
does not allow for nested quotations. All quotations should be on one level.
The arguments against this are as follows: On the one hand, it becomes almost
impossible to understand who wrote what in which order without having to read
the previous posts. On the other hand, the non-nested quotations is broken if
only one person in between does not use this style - and the newsreaders NOT
doing this are in the majority.
- Because it doesn't make sense on Usenet. Who, mind you, is "P", or maybe
"DN" supposed to be? What do you think how many hundreds of thousands of people
on Usenet might also be "DN"? It may make sense to use this style with
mailboxes, since the same combination might not occur as frequently in this
- Because it is standard to use ">". This may be a weak argument, however,
it may be difficult to get used to another display. Especially if ">" and
"DN" are mixed with each other, it becomes more and more difficult to
understand the different relations. If you are not used to it, it takes longer
to read, since you always trip over unused quoting-styles - people who read a
lot of news would not read the entire article.
- Because it may interrupt the automatic line-wrapping of some newsreaders.
Some newsreaders provide the functionality to wrap long lines automatically,
so it does not exceed the recommend number of characters per line. When doing
this, the newsreader usually tries to determine where a quoting begins by
paying attention to the quotationmark (">"). Initials instead of ">" not
only make it more difficult to differentiate between the different levels of
quoting, but they may even be "normal" text.
- Many newsreaders are able to highlight quoted text in some fashion, for
example by using another font or another color. An unambiguous quotationmark is
very important. Quite frequently, the newsreader assumes that a certain
standardized character (such as ">", ":", "!", ">" "#" etc) marks a
quotation. Furthermore, newsreaders assume that a line starting with a
word-character is considered to be normal text and therefore will not highlight
lines starting with the initials.
- Finally, it is a question of the way the newsreader presents the text to
the *reader*. If the reader likes the initials, in some newsreaders there is the
functionality to make it show these instead of the ">".
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