E-mail Signature File Separators?

Do you know what a signature separator is? I had a bit of a nostalgic feeling when one of my site visitors commented that I do not mention “sig-separators” on NetManners. com.

I used to use one myself a decade ago when I was an avid Newsgroup participant but haven’t seen the need to do so in years. And, rarely do I see a sig-separator used in all the emails I receive. You may have even seen a sig-separator here and there and wondered why those two little dashes display above the sender’s signature file.

To cover this topic we have to go into the Web Wayback Machine…

In the beginning of the Web when folks used Newsgroups quite a bit (now known as groups) it was important to have a “–” and a line break before your signature file. (Hyphen, hyphen, space, newline.) At that time Newsgroups were pretty much it and had quite heavy traffic.

Therefore, to allow the smooth flow of conversations, the sig-separator allowed news software to strip out signature files when replying. Here’s an example:

At your service,

There is a downside to sig-separators. Top posters will find that the entire earlier post (which is then below the signature file because they are incorrectly top posting [Learn how to properly reply and down-edit your emails.]) is then removed.

Top posting in general doesn’t lend to clarity in your communications let alone when using a sig separator that strips out the previous conversation below your signature file. Therefore it is best if you don’t put your signature file as the very last thing in an email to refrain from using a sig-separator.

Unless you’ve been online from the start, you most likely have never heard of a sig-separator and many feel this traditional sig-separator looks rather silly when interposed into a regular email. So the jury is out as to whether sig-separators will ever be able to gain a foothold in regular email and communities that prefer a letter-like style.

As I always do when a site visitor brings up a valid issue that I believe onliners can learn from I have updated my article Signature File Use Dos and Don’ts to include a factoid/info about sig-separators.

I’m curious…. Had you heard of sig-separators before now? Do you use them and if so, all the time or only when in Newsgroups or groups? Let me know what you think!

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