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Please add the ability to email questions and answers to friends

While going through Stack Overflow posts, I happened to see an interesting post on "y-combinator" which I was planning to email to my friend. After searching the entire page, I couldn't find any link/button to mail the post.

I believe, providing a link to mail the post would be great.

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marked as duplicate by Jeff Atwood Dec 3 '11 at 1:04

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.

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You're referring to some "tell a friend" button, right? (Not just a URL to copy into your own email, as such links are certainly on the pages, and also in your location bar, obviously.) Don't you find your own email client (and its address book) much easier to use? –  Arjan Feb 11 '11 at 14:19
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When there are no answers yet, then there are links to post through email, Facebook and Twitter. But then email also uses your own email client. (Not much different from copying the URL itself.) –  Arjan Feb 11 '11 at 14:58
    
@Arjan: Yes I was referring to "tell a friend" kind of option. You could see similar kind of feature which I was referring to in every CodeProject article. I believe even though this seems like a minuscule feature, but could definitely help in increasing Stackoverflow popularity to a extent. –  AbrahamJP Feb 11 '11 at 17:06

2 Answers 2

When I see a link I want to mail to somebody, I copy the link and paste it into my mail client. I find it sufficiently convenient, and I have a copy of it in my "sent" folder so I can look up what I was talking about if I get a reply a month later.

Plus, sending E-Mails from server side creates a slew of additional complex spam, rate limiting and other issues.

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The server already has email capabilities - you can have alerts sent to your email, so the second part of your answer is not an issue. –  Adam Davis Feb 11 '11 at 15:25
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@Polly but "send mail with manually entered content to arbitrary E-Mail address" is a much more difficult issue than "send an automated message to my own E-Mail address" (Although admittedly, I don't think there is a confirmation mechanism for those at the moment, so they could to some very limited extent already be used for spamming people) –  Pëkka Feb 11 '11 at 15:29
    
@Pekka - I don't see why this would be much more difficult, but perhaps you could elaborate on the difference in your answer since your first reason is a straw man. –  Adam Davis Feb 11 '11 at 15:47
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@Polly this (if it has a "add your personal message" field) is practically an open relay for unsolicited E-Mail. You'd have to introduce per-account and per-IP and per-IP block rate limiting. You'd have to introduce spam checks. You'd have to introduce limits to how much can be sent to a specific E-Mail address. You'd have to deal with incoming complaints. You'd have to take care not to have your IPs and domains end up blacklisted. And so on and so on... Not impossible at all (many do it) but a huge lot of effort for what to me is negligeable gain. –  Pëkka Feb 11 '11 at 15:55
    
@Pekka And if we don't have that field (ie, all it allows you to do is enter your own email address and the address to send to, then sends a generic message, "someone@somewhere.com thought you'd be interested in 'Some programming problem'") then there's really little more problem than we already have with the question update notification. A personal message field is hardly necessary, and the site already has rate limiting and email address parsing. –  Adam Davis Feb 11 '11 at 16:01
    
@Polly fair enough, but even without a personal field this carries some potential for misuse that would have to be dealt with. Anyway, it's definitely not impossible - I just don't think it's worth doing. –  Pëkka Feb 11 '11 at 16:06

This feature should be seriously considered.

"Send to a friend" is a very common UI feature for websites, and many people use it not only to notify friends, but to send links to themselves.

It's true that there are better ways to manage saving and sending links, and users can do this themselves in a number of ways, but that's no reason to deny this feature.

Good reasons to deny the feature should be based solely on:

  • Will this increase readership?
  • Will it improve the usability of the site?
  • Does it add value for our core users? (Note that this site's core users may not be who you think they are)
  • Will this harm the site?
  • Will this complicate the UI?
  • Is it technically difficult?

We already send automated emails from the site for question alerts, and we specifically encourage users to share links.

Honestly it looks to me as though the only issue one might have with it is that adding yet another feature to each page could clutter the ui.

One option (of course not the only one) is to use an overlay popup for the "link" link that gives the users additional options, including email, and possibly other sharing options (twitter, facebook, digg, reddit, a user referral link, a clean (no user number) link, etc). This wouldn't complicate the ui any more than it already is, adding no additional page elements except when specifically requested by the user, clicking on "link".

We're not a social website, but the more people we attract to the site, the better. Given that the vast majority of people visiting come through google, and these users are doing research for themselves or others, this sort of feature may actually have a significant effect in advertising the site through personal referrals.

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a clean (no user number) link :-) –  Arjan Feb 11 '11 at 15:48
    
I could see a point in this looking at the SE sites, where the audience - at least in the long term - will not always be the most tech-savvy. For those, a "Send this as an E-Mail" function may indeed be adding value. Also, fair point re drive-by visitors. –  Pëkka Feb 11 '11 at 19:11

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