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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 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" 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 is and what belongs there, and has a contact form. And it can say "you can always e-mail us directly at" 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. – JSONBog Aug 21 '09 at 14:23
3 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. – JSONBog 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! – JSONBog Aug 21 '09 at 14:33
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" (with a mailto link) as well. Don't force me to fill out a stupid form if I don't need to.

share|improve this answer
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 "" in the "TO" field?

share|improve this answer
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. – JSONBog 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. – JSONBog 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 ? – 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. – JSONBog 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?

share|improve this answer
Drop that and try JQuery. – Hilarious Comedy Pesto Aug 21 '09 at 15:01
@Shog9 I've used it quite a bit ( 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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