This blog is highly personal, makes no attempt at being politically correct, will occasionaly offend your sensibility, and certainly does not represent the opinions of the people I work with or for.
Pascal, single-handedly making the word a better place by improving email
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Few weeks ago, I suddenly had a realisation: email user agents (aka email clients, aka the gmail web app) quote emails wrongly. I modified the settings of mine (at least on the laptop, the phone is still resisting) and started to live happier, but then it annoys me that other people do not do the same.

Let me explain.

Imagine that Alice sends an email to Bob. It looks like

Hope to see you tonight. By the way, what time to do think 
arriving ? And do you want anything special ?

Cheers,
Alice

Upon clicking 'reply' the client (or the gmail web app) is going to basically show to Bob, the following

On 31 Jan 2014, at 22:27, Alice wrote:

> Hope to see you tonight. By the way, what time to do think 
> arriving ? And do you want anything special ?

> Cheers,
> Alice

If your client looks slightly different, that's because they have their own way to represent the quoting, but the underlying text is the one I showed above. Leading to Bob preparing the following reply

I will be there around 8pm. Nothing, I will bring the food.

On 31 Jan 2014, at 22:27, Alice wrote:

> Hope to see you tonight. By the way, what time to do think 
> arriving ? And do you want anything special ?

> Cheers,
> Alice 

If Bob is like me, he is going to quote the questions he replies to, allowing him to reply to several questions separately. As follows

> By the way, what time to do think arriving ?

I will be there around 8pm. 


> And do you want anything special ?

Nothing, I will bring the food.


On 31 Jan 2014, at 22:27, Alice wrote:

> Hope to see you tonight. By the way, what time to do think 
> arriving ? And do you want anything special ?

> Cheers,
> Alice 

For a long time I used to call idiots the people (most people) who do not correctly separate the questions they reply to, but then I realised that 'modern' email clients make it difficult for them to do so. So I stopped calling them idiots and now I call them morons.

Anyway, the point I am making in this entry is the following: quoting the questions you reply to is awesome, but the fact that Alice original email is all quoted is very wrong. After I realised this and changed my settings, my replies now look like as follows (the sentences I reply to are quoted, but the original email is not)


> By the way, what time to do think arriving ?

I will be there around 8pm. Nothing, 


> And do you want anything special ?

I will bring the food.


On 31 Jan 2014, at 22:27, Alice wrote:

Hope to see you tonight. By the way, what time to do think 
arriving ? And do you want anything special ?

Cheers,
Alice 

You might think it's a small thing, but during long discussions (as I often have with some people), this avoid absurdities like...

On 31 Jan 2014, at 22:35, Alice wrote:

>Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah 
>Blah Blah 

>On 31 Jan 2014, at 22:34, Bob wrote:

>>Blah Blah Blah 

>>On 31 Jan 2014, at 22:33, Alice wrote:

>>>Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah 
>>>Blah 

>>>On 31 Jan 2014, at 22:32, Bob wrote:

>>>>Blah Blah 
>>>>Blah 

>>>>On 31 Jan 2014, at 22:31, Alice wrote:

>>>>>Blah 

>>>>>On 31 Jan 2014, at 22:30, Bob wrote:

>>>>>>Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah 
>>>>>>Blah 

>>>>>>On 31 Jan 2014, at 22:29, Alice wrote:

>>>>>>>Blah Blah 

>>>>>>>On 31 Jan 2014, at 22:28, Bob wrote:

>>>>>>>>Blah Blah 

>>>>>>>>On 31 Jan 2014, at 22:27, Alice wrote:

>>>>>>>>>Blah 


And while being at it, note that in an ideal world, we would all reply to emails by writing below the original text as follows:

On 31 Jan 2014, at 22:27, Alice wrote:

Hope to see you tonight. By the way, what time to do think 
arriving ? And do you want anything special ?

Cheers,
Alice 


On 31 Jan 2014, at 22:28, Bob wrote:

> By the way, what time to do think arriving ?

I will be there around 8pm. Nothing, 


> And do you want anything special ?

I will bring the food.

The only problem with this is that email clients will have to position the view to avoid Alice (receiving Bob's email) to scroll down through her own email before reading Bob's. This is an easy change in the logic of the display. The only difficulty will be people getting used to it.
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