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The 4-line limit to E-mail Signature Blocks and Accessibility

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  • Shlomi Fish
    Hi all, The so-called McQuary limit for signatures says this: http://www.answers.com/topic/mcquary-limit-computer-jargon [from the name of the
    Message 1 of 3 , Mar 4 4:48 AM
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      Hi all,

      The so-called "McQuary limit" for signatures says this:

      http://www.answers.com/topic/mcquary-limit-computer-jargon

      <quote>
      [from the name of the founder of alt.fan.warlord; see warlording.] 4 lines of
      at most 80 characters each, sometimes still cited on Usenet as the maximum
      acceptable size of a sig block. Before the great bandwidth explosion of the
      early 1990s, long sigs actually cost people running Usenet servers significant
      amounts of money. Nowadays social pressure against long sigs is intended to
      avoid waste of human attention rather than machine bandwidth. Accordingly, the
      McQuary limit should be considered a rule of thumb rather than a hard limit;
      it's best to avoid sigs that are large, repetitive, and distracting. See also
      warlording.
      </quote>

      Now some people have taken the rule to its letter and put signatures only
      under 4 lines. For example a typical signature (now quite old) by our Nadav
      is:

      <qoute>
      Nadav Har'El | Monday, Sep 6 2004, 20 Elul 5764
      nyh@... |-----------------------------------------
      Phone +972-523-790466, ICQ 13349191 |May you live as long as you want - and
      http://nadav.harel.org.il |never want as long as you live.
      </quote>

      I've been thinking that maybe such two-column and ASCII-art-bases signature is
      not very accessible to people using screen-readers and/or Braille-devices
      (e.g: people who are blind or otherwise sight-disabled.) and possibly has
      other accessibility issues. And I've seen much worse signatures in the olden
      days of Usenet.

      Now, the format of my signature block is:

      <block>
      [Name] [Homepage URL]
      [Self-interetst resource that may be of Interest one line - now randomised ]
      [Empty Line]
      [Amusing quote - usually by myself or a friend - now also randomised.]
      [Empty Line]
      Please reply to list if it's a mailing list post - http://shlom.in/reply .
      </block>

      I think this is the most accessible solution, and the signature is still not
      very long. I originally had the contact-me URL there as well, but figured out
      that people can always find it on my home site.

      Omer (Zak), as our resident accessibility expert, what are your views on this?

      Regards,

      Shlomi Fish

      --
      -----------------------------------------------------------------
      Shlomi Fish http://www.shlomifish.org/
      Freecell Solver - http://fc-solve.berlios.de/

      My opinions may seem crazy but they all make sense. Insane sense, but sense
      nonetheless.

      Please reply to list if it's a mailing list post - http://shlom.in/reply .
    • Omer Zak
      ... [... snipped ...] ... On the face of it, your suggestion makes sense. The drawback is that it somewhat limits people s ability to express themselves
      Message 2 of 3 , Mar 4 6:40 PM
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        On Fri, 2011-03-04 at 14:48 +0200, Shlomi Fish wrote:
        > I've been thinking that maybe such two-column and ASCII-art-bases signature is
        > not very accessible to people using screen-readers and/or Braille-devices
        > (e.g: people who are blind or otherwise sight-disabled.)

        [... snipped ...]

        > Omer (Zak), as our resident accessibility expert, what are your views on this?

        On the face of it, your suggestion makes sense. The drawback is that it
        somewhat limits people's ability to express themselves artistically
        (this is one of the excuses used by movie makers to avoid putting
        captions in their movies - "visual clutter").

        I think that people who read Braille can deal with .sigs (except for the
        ASCII art part, which needs more "global view").

        I suggest that you ask people with visual impairment for their
        experiences with .sigs, and if they don't already have workarounds for
        grokking .sigs.

        --- Omer


        --
        In civilized societies, captions are as important in movies as
        soundtracks, professional photography and expert editing.
        My own blog is at http://www.zak.co.il/tddpirate/

        My opinions, as expressed in this E-mail message, are mine alone.
        They do not represent the official policy of any organization with which
        I may be affiliated in any way.
        WARNING TO SPAMMERS: at http://www.zak.co.il/spamwarning.html
      • Shlomi Fish
        Hi Omer, ... Ah. :-(. ... OK, I ll see if I can do that. Ori told me there s a mailing list for blind (or otherwise visually disabled) Linux users (over at
        Message 3 of 3 , Mar 5 10:12 PM
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          Hi Omer,

          On Saturday 05 Mar 2011 04:40:30 Omer Zak wrote:
          > On Fri, 2011-03-04 at 14:48 +0200, Shlomi Fish wrote:
          > > I've been thinking that maybe such two-column and ASCII-art-bases
          > > signature is not very accessible to people using screen-readers and/or
          > > Braille-devices (e.g: people who are blind or otherwise sight-disabled.)
          >
          > [... snipped ...]
          >
          > > Omer (Zak), as our resident accessibility expert, what are your views on
          > > this?
          >
          > On the face of it, your suggestion makes sense. The drawback is that it
          > somewhat limits people's ability to express themselves artistically
          > (this is one of the excuses used by movie makers to avoid putting
          > captions in their movies - "visual clutter").

          Ah. :-(.

          >
          > I think that people who read Braille can deal with .sigs (except for the
          > ASCII art part, which needs more "global view").
          >
          > I suggest that you ask people with visual impairment for their
          > experiences with .sigs, and if they don't already have workarounds for
          > grokking .sigs.

          OK, I'll see if I can do that. Ori told me there's a mailing list for blind
          (or otherwise visually disabled) Linux users (over at RedHat IIRC), but had a
          problem that they are asking many questions there that are mundane technical
          problems they run into with Linux. I'll see what I can do, though.

          Regards,

          Shlomi Fish

          --
          -----------------------------------------------------------------
          Shlomi Fish http://www.shlomifish.org/
          "The Human Hacking Field Guide" - http://shlom.in/hhfg

          My opinions may seem crazy but they all make sense. Insane sense, but sense
          nonetheless.

          Please reply to list if it's a mailing list post - http://shlom.in/reply .
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