Many of you have noted that replies coming into QuestionPoint from outside the service are sometimes difficult to understand because the question history is repeated. Since QuestionPoint isn't an e-mail server, it can't recognize one kind of text from another--for example, it cannot tell a header from a message, so it also cannot tell where a reply stops and an original message begins.
A patron reply is simply an e-mail message. If the patron has his e-mail client set to include the original message in a reply, any reply from him will include the original message. Most clients do work this way unless the user purposely changes the setting--this makes it easy to follow the entire thread of a back-and-forth exchange by reading just the most recent e-mail.
Look at the first illustration below, an answered question to which the librarian first responded with a request for clarification. When the patron replied, the question history he'd received with the librarian's request was appended to his reply; then the librarian saved the e-mail without any editing. Now the question history has not only the original question and librarian clarification request, but it has the whole e-mail, which repeats that history. This was the first duplication.
When the librarian finally answered the question, all question history was again included for the patron, but this time the history contains duplicate material. This can be difficult for the patron to navigate through, if they wish to review their question history. To make matters worse, if the patron responds with a Thank you! and the librarian again saves the reply without editing it, the library's copy of the entire transaction is three times as long as it needs to be, with duplications of duplications!
To ensure a more readable history for both the patron and librarian, some quick editing of the patron's reply can be done before any more action is taken. As you see in the next illustration, the patron's actual reply text is very brief. The second line is an e-mail "header"--Original Message--to the librarian's clarification request, followed by question history. We've highlighted the header information in orange here.
Here's a close-up:
Some clients may display the header information a little differently, but it should be recognizable as such.
There's no need to keep all of the message because it's already recorded in the library's view of the question history.
So, click on the Edit key. With your mouse, highlight everything from the original e-mail header to the very end of the message (the only part not highlighted is the patron's reply text at the top). Then Delete using your keyboard Delete key. And now click Save.
Now continue with answering the question as you normally would.
As opposed to the first illustration, which has line after line after line of duplicated history, here we have the typical, succinct history you are accustomed to.
A possible exception is when a patron inserts their answer within the text of the clarification requested. In this case, there is usually some indication where the patron's reply begins. Even here, however, once you find the beginning and end of the patron's reply, delete everything else.
The following illustrates such an inline response to the clarification request and the highlighting (in blue, this time) necessary for deleting.
If you have questions about this feature, please contact Paula Rumbaugh at firstname.lastname@example.org.