Gmail And Css Discuss

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Gmail is great in many ways. Google made a lot of smart choices about making mail easily usable within a browser.

Yet, there are some behaviors that are different from what we are used to for mail lists. The combination of these behaviors make it all too easy to quote too much material in a reply.

Following are the behaviors that lead to excessive quoting. When you reply in Gmail:

  1. Gmail encourages top-posting, placing the cursor at the top of the reply window. One can always argue the merits of top-posting versus bottom-posting, but it seems the majority of our list contributors prefer bottom-posting. No matter what you prefer, the Gmail behavior is what it is and there is no preference to change it.
  2. Quoted material appears a couple of lines below the cursor. As one starts typing a reply, the quoted material slides down, out of view. The longer the reply, the better the chance that the quoted material disappears completely from view.
  3. The constrained size of the reply window makes it more likely that material will disappear as mentioned in point 2, and also makes it difficult to realize how much quoted material actually exists. One really has to pay attention to that vertical scroll bar to get a sense of the volume of material.
  4. Lastly, a nit: Since Gmail is oriented to top-posting, it inverts the quotes too, placing the most recent at the top of the quoted material.

Why do we care? The size of the mail list is one factor. Over 8,500 people (as of January 2010) are being sent unnecessary material. The extra material also causes digests to be built and sent more frequently. Lastly, our list policies at ask us to "trim your replies."


  1. At minimum, scroll down and remove unnecessary quoted material. Our list mom always suggests trying to keep the size of quoted material smaller than what you add to the conversation. Be merciless. The rest of us probably still have the complete original in our mail box and can go find it if we really want.
  2. Consider bottom-posting. Hit the delete key once, then scroll down through the quoted material, pruning wisely as you go, and type your reply below the quoted material.
  3. Google Mail allows you to open a new window for your reply. The edit area there is much larger than the embedded default window. This makes it much easier to see what you are posting and to trim and answer inline.
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