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RE: Accessibility and mailto links

From: Charles F. Munat <chas@munat.com>
Date: Tue, 5 Jun 2001 09:25:40 -0700
To: <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>
Message-ID: <LHEGJAOEDCOFFBGFAPKBKELKCGAA.chas@munat.com>
One thing that no-one seems to have mentioned in this thread is the problem
with email address scraping.

On my sites I usually provide a form for all the reasons already mentioned.
It guides the user and let's him/her know what information we need to
adequately process his/her request. It doesn't require familiarity with an
email program. And it can be used from any browser.

But I also provide an email address in a mailto: link at the bottom of every
page on the site (two, usually: one for the company and one for the
webmaster). And I provide an email address in plain text on the form page at
the least and usually at the bottom of every page.

Then I sit back and wait for the spam.

I agree that it is important to give users as much flexibility as possible
when replying to a site. (With most sites, I'm happy if they provide *any*
method for giving feedback -- lots don't.) But the more complex the system
gets, the more it costs to maintain it, as Al mentioned. What Al didn't say
is that increasing the cost of one function means taking money from others.
There will be trade-offs involved. What user feature should we leave off to
pay for the extra cost of our customer service features?

I don't think it's cut and dried -- it really needs to be looked at on a
case basis. But we should acknowledge that some sites deliberately hide
email addresses by using forms, and they do so because they want to minimize
spam.

Any solutions to the spam problem? How can I include an email address that
the user can read, but an address-scraping agent cannot?

Any suggestions for how to provide the flexibility of both mailto and forms
without significantly increasing the costs (and thus giving up other
features)? (Note: IMO the priorities on most sites are all screwed up
already, so freeing up money for better customer service handling might be
just a matter of getting the priorities straight. For the above question,
however, I am assuming that we've distributed our funds in a reasonably wise
manner already and that spending more on customer service will result in
giving up a *useful* function. How can we get the best of both mailto and
forms *without* increasing the cost? Any ideas?)

Charles F. Munat
Seattle, Washington
Received on Tuesday, 5 June 2001 12:24:17 GMT

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