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 [email protected] 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 [email protected]" 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?)

  • 3
    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.
    – Welbog
    Commented Aug 21, 2009 at 14:23
  • 3
    ...as are sites that use contact forms instead of mailto links
    – Kip
    Commented Aug 21, 2009 at 14:25
  • 2
    Look, I'm trying to blame you here. Stop defending yourself. Please try to see it my way.
    – Welbog
    Commented Aug 21, 2009 at 14:26
  • @Welbog: As a compromise, why don't you both admit that you're wrong and I'm right? Commented Aug 21, 2009 at 14:32
  • I refuse to admit anything!
    – Welbog
    Commented Aug 21, 2009 at 14:33

3 Answers 3


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

  • 4
    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
    Commented Aug 21, 2009 at 14:19
  • 2
    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. Commented Aug 21, 2009 at 14:25
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    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
    Commented Aug 21, 2009 at 14:27
  • Can't email get automatically deleted/ignored/laughed at/posted on facebook/ as the form post?
    – user131297
    Commented Aug 21, 2009 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
    Commented Aug 21, 2009 at 15:05

Why don't you just open up your web mail client and type in "[email protected]" in the "TO" field?

  • 1
    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.
    – Welbog
    Commented Aug 21, 2009 at 14:28
  • 1
    Because that is precious time that could be spent waiting for a contact form page to load. Commented Aug 21, 2009 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
    Commented Aug 21, 2009 at 14:43
  • @Kip: Stop confusing a one-time effort with the longer-term effort associated with each e-mail you send.
    – Welbog
    Commented Aug 21, 2009 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:[email protected] ?
    – Kip
    Commented Aug 21, 2009 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.
    – Welbog
    Commented Aug 21, 2009 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
    Commented Aug 21, 2009 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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