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Suppose that we have a limited mailbox space. What are the advantages and disadvantage of the following practices when replying an email?

(1) Quoting the original message and removing the original.


(2) Not quoting the original and keep the original message in the mailbox.

I know it is a question of taste. But I am wondering if one of these practices is the best.

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Let's be honest. In a professional setting you quote or leave the original email as part of the discussion. Anyone that is that pressed for email space is hard to be taken seriously. I apologize about being blunt but that is the way things work. – user7662 Mar 8 '14 at 0:44
-1 user7662 I am not pressed for Email space, I know many email providers give practically unlimited mailbox storage. Yes, best practices even in such simple things are better for ecology and protecting nature. – Name Mar 8 '14 at 17:59
Why would you have limited email space? – dwjohnston Mar 10 '14 at 2:54
up vote 7 down vote accepted

Quote and remove works well only when the discussion thread goes on linearly (each reply answer always the last email), which is not always the case (especially with multiple recipients). Anyway, if you have problems with mailbox space, you should worry more for attachments than for text.

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thanks laika for your answer. – Name Feb 26 '14 at 17:37
@Name if you are happy with the answer, it is good convention here to accept it – Jeanne Boyarsky Mar 1 '14 at 17:16
Jeanne, of course I would be happy to accept an answer. But accepting an answer significantly reduces the possibility of new answers. And in my case, my question seems to not to have a unique answer. – Name Mar 8 '14 at 18:19

Do whatever is better for communication:

  • If it's fast paced and and everybody follows the thread just type you answers. If you are referring to many points you can quote the each point before adding your input for clarity. You can remove original message.
  • If it goes slowly and many people are involved you may consider keeping the history. You may need it to catch up after a longer break or others may need it to understand what is it all about.

Note that a single photo takes a couple dozen kB, word and PDF files few hundred.

How much text only email history takes? Usually no more than a few dozen kB and if it gets really lengthy you cut cut off unnecessary/old parts or start a fresh thread but I don't think you should bother.

Your and others' time and clarity is worth much more that space you can save. You can easily get at least a gB to store you emails for free which is 1000*1000 kB!

If you really think you need to save space I would recommend deleting old thread attachments. Or maybe uploading attachments somewhere else and sending links only. But seriously in most of the cases if you don't have enough space for your emails you should either backup old stuff or get extra space.

Just remember, work time and clarity is worth several time than extra space.

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Legat, thank you for your answer. The main point of my question was not about space but rather to know about best practice. From my experience, I have seen that many efficient people (including secretaries) remove the original message and just type their answer. As you pointed out, it depends also on the situation but perhaps in most situation one of these alternative is better and this was the main motivation of my question. – Name Mar 8 '14 at 18:14
but you don't know if the secretary is also removing the original message in the mailbox... the only good reason for doing that would just be extreme lack of space (clutter in the mailbox is not a reason anymore since the threaded view). I think that's why we are all focusing on the mail space – laika Mar 9 '14 at 8:48
@Name, I think you should ask during small talk when on phone or on a meeting. It could just be a fallacy among some overly efficient people trying to minimize used space while being oblivious to storage requirements of raw text and attachments and their costs in general. In most cases it's like turning off your computer screen to save power whenever you are not using it for a few minutes. It's only a tiny inconvenience but it serves no real purpose. – Legat Mar 9 '14 at 10:45

Suppose that we have a limited mailbox space.

This is just counterfactual. Our mailbox space isn't so limited that we can't quote text.

Including their message is a way of providing context and context is good for readers. In terms of productivity it means that very short emails saying things like "yes" make sense to the recipient (who can see what you're saying yes to).

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