email etiquette question:

When I'm replying to a thread with multiple participants, is there a standard way to indicate who I am quoting?

For example, in the exchange below, is there a good/standard way to attribute the first quote to Alice and the second to Bob?

> Foo is better

> Bar is better

I agree with Alice that foo is the way to go.

CC: @sir, resident plaintext email expert/evangelist

@codesections @sir

At 2020-01-01 Alice wrote:

> Foo is better

At 2020-01-01 Bob wrote:

> Bar is better

I agree with Alice that foo is the way to go.

@Steinar Thanks. Is the date stamp a required or optional element, in your experience?

@codesections @Steinar i think i'd say it's standard but not strictly required (you sometimes see just "Alice wrote:" or "You wrote:"), and formats vary.

@codesections Most MUAs include it. Also it's often (always?) the case that one of the quotations you need is included in another, like

X wrote:
> Y wrote:
>> text text text
> that's bs!
I agree to disagree.

Linear quotations, like in @Steinar 's example are rare; I'm sure I haven't seen it in the wild.

As for the attribution, when you name the idea or the person, the rest is obvious from context, especially if you reply inline (as opposed to top posting:

@codesections As with anything mail, nothing is required and nothing is standard. ;) Personally, I think it's nice for context, since mail is async, and Bob may have gotten new information since he wrongly claimed what he did.

@codesections @Adrian Cochrane Usually the indentation of the different participants will be enough to identify them. Since each reply indents by one, the newest response will be the least indented, and the oldest one the most indented. Most sane email programs these days will assign different colours to each indentation level too. If there's more than a couple of participants, you can also just add a line indicating whose quote you're responding to above the quote.

@codesections @sir
It'd get something like

From Alice:
> From bob:
>> Foo is better
> Bar is better

I agree with Alice.


@codesections @sir one common way is to copy the '> Alice wrote: ' line that the client added down to above the paragraph you're quoting; only when you've got something fairly hairy though, people normally rely on the ≥ ≥ indentations.

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