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Instead of a mailto: link for the "Contact us" link at the bottom of every page, could you make it link to a contact form?

I use web-based e-mail, so I don't have a mail client set up on my machine. So if I accidentally click on a mailto: link it ends up spending 30 seconds launching a copy of Outlook Express that I don't use that is not associated with any account anywhere.

This could also help you (the SO team) out. You could give the users a "what are you writing about" listbox, with options like: positive feedback, found a bug, i have a suggestion, general question, etc. Then the mail that you send to team@stackoveflow.com could be tagged as such (i.e. subject line "[positive feedback] this site is awesome!") to help you sort those e-mails better. And if a user selects "I have a suggestion", you could display a "you could also try suggesting this on meta.stackoverflow.com" link.

Edit: Thinking about this more, the "contact us" and "feedback always welcome" links could be confusing to a new user. They have very similar meanings but go to very different places. Maybe both could go to a page that briefly describes what meta.stackoverflow.com is and what belongs there, and has a contact form. And it can say "you can always e-mail us directly at team@stackoverflow.com" for those who prefer to contact you that way. (Or maybe only the "contact us" link goes to the new page, and "feedback always welcome" is no longer a link?)

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This sounds like just as much your problem as it is Dynamic Atwood Platoon's. mailto: links are commonplace, as are hooks that let you check web-based e-mail with any e-mail client. – XMLbog Aug 21 '09 at 14:23
...as are sites that use contact forms instead of mailto links – Kip Aug 21 '09 at 14:25
Look, I'm trying to blame you here. Stop defending yourself. Please try to see it my way. – XMLbog Aug 21 '09 at 14:26
@Welbog: As a compromise, why don't you both admit that you're wrong and I'm right? – Hilarious Comedy Pesto Aug 21 '09 at 14:32
I refuse to admit anything! – XMLbog Aug 21 '09 at 14:33

3 Answers 3

up vote 10 down vote accepted

I'm fine with this, so long as it has something like "or, you can always email us at team@stackoverflow.com" (with a mailto link) as well. Don't force me to fill out a stupid form if I don't need to.

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good point. of course, you still have to kind of fill out a form in your e-mail client, all i'm suggesting is one extra list box, not a 5 minute survey. – Kip Aug 21 '09 at 14:19
And I agree with that. But I hate sites that only have a contact us form. I just want to make sure they still give out the email address. – Hilarious Comedy Pesto Aug 21 '09 at 14:25
I agree. There aren't many instances I can think of where I need a contact form to fill out if I am emailing them. I have often found those too restrictive because people tend to try and make you choose a subject type so they can forward it to the appropriate deleted/ignored folder. – TheTXI Aug 21 '09 at 14:27
Can't email get automatically deleted/ignored/laughed at/posted on facebook/ as the form post? – JeffO Aug 21 '09 at 14:52
Sure, if he just wants to delete/ignore everything coming in. The idea of a form mail with subject options allows someone to ignore "bug" posts, because obviously the user is wrong and they are all by design. – TheTXI Aug 21 '09 at 15:05

Why don't you just open up your web mail client and type in "team@stackoverflow.com" in the "TO" field?

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Better yet, set up something in whatever handles protocols to open up your web-based e-mail software and fill in the to field for you whenever you click a mailto: link. – XMLbog Aug 21 '09 at 14:28
Because that is precious time that could be spent waiting for a contact form page to load. – Hilarious Comedy Pesto Aug 21 '09 at 14:32
opening a new browser window or configuring e-mail software is so much easier than entering text into a form field on the website you're already viewing – Kip Aug 21 '09 at 14:43
@Kip: Stop confusing a one-time effort with the longer-term effort associated with each e-mail you send. – XMLbog Aug 21 '09 at 14:44
maintaining e-mail client settings and browser e-mail settings on every machine i use is a one-time effort? and entering text into a form field is a long term effort? by that logic, why have "ask a question" go to a form when it could just be a link to mailto:questions@stackoverflow.com ? – Kip Aug 21 '09 at 15:02
Lots of machines, fair enough. But a contact form for every site you use is just as much overhead, since each site would have different fields with different names and different validations. That's what I meant by long-term effort. One single e-mail client has a smaller learning curve than a dozen contact forms. – XMLbog Aug 21 '09 at 15:11
@Welbog: where is the learning curve to entering text into a form? you'd just need to enter a message, maybe a subject line, maybe select a general reason from a list box, and your optional e-mail address (required to get a response). if anything is unintuitive or there are weird validations for a contact form, then the form is trying to do too much – Kip Aug 21 '09 at 17:44

I don't like "contact forms". My email program actually has proper editing tools.

Have you tried Greasemonkey?

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Drop that and try JQuery. – Hilarious Comedy Pesto Aug 21 '09 at 15:01
@Shog9 I've used it quite a bit (meta.stackexchange.com/questions/15429 meta.stackexchange.com/questions/12635 meta.stackexchange.com/questions/6906). that doesn't change the fact that mailto: links are annoying for many users that don't know what greasemonkey is. – Kip Aug 21 '09 at 15:09
Well, that's my point - so are "contact forms". Your revised suggestion, where you advocate having both - that i could live with. – Shog9 Aug 21 '09 at 15:11

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