[Athen] Best practise for threads in discussions.

Sean Keegan skeegan at stanford.edu
Thu Feb 5 22:07:39 PST 2009

E.A. wrote:
I've been asked what would be the best way of conveying nesting
structure to screenreader users so that they could understand whether
a reply was to the original message in the thread or to a subsequent

Sean's reply:
One method that has gained some use on discussion lists is similar to
what I have done in this message. That is, put either the question or
main point above and then respond to the message below. If there are
several points, then separate each point with your response. Delete the
remainder of the actual message.

Some people simply use the ">" symbol to designate the main topic in the
previous message that is being responded to, but others put some
information such as "My reply" to separate who is writing which
message. If the conversation has gone back and forth and the poster
wishes to refocus to the original message, then I have also seen the
convention where the phrase "Original Post" or "Original Message" is
sometimes used instead of a person's name.

Does this help someone using a screen-reader? I have heard answers all
over the place, from "yes" to "no" to, as Patrick pointed out, "who
cares?" What I do like about separating the main points and replying to
those individually is when checking e-mail via a portable device (e.g.,
iPhone, Blackberry, etc.) - I get the main points of the message and do
not have to sift through a bunch of replies to figure out what was the
original post. Also, it helps to focus the issues in question and can
make it easier to understand to what part of a message a person is

Take care,

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