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Re: Accessibility and mailto links [with forms, with subjects, what's bad about it]

From: David Woolley <david@djwhome.demon.co.uk>
Date: Sat, 4 Aug 2001 15:01:12 +0100 (BST)
Message-Id: <200108041401.f74E1CL29618@djwhome.demon.co.uk>
To: w3c-wai-ig@w3.org
> http://www.isolani.co.uk/newbie/mailto.html
[ re-wrapped to standards ]
> I found this article very informative, even though it deals more with
* why not to make mailto: the action of a form. Many of the reasons apply
* to the topic at hand and echo the concerns raised.

This seems to be a new thread, so there is no topic at hand!  This
shouldn't be a problem for all except individuals and the very smallest
of charities, as proper form handing is available on even fairly basic
web hosting services.   Although some appropriate technology fails to
be used because people already know a hack for doing it## without server
or HTTP support, this tends not to be the case for forms.

> Note particularly the failure of encoding a subject for the mailto
* messages. When it fails, it tends to do so in the worst way, in that

The articles is based on a very out of date definition of the mailto
URL scheme; there are specific RFCs about mailto and they do allow
subject= etc.++, although you could still go wrong by not protecting
space characters.  Even so, most fields in mailto URLs can be ignored,
because of security risks.

I do agree that mailto forms should be treated as a last resort when 
penny pinching, and I also think that parameterised mailto's are risky
even if they are legal.

Let's not confuse this with the use of mailto for contact information;
in many cases, I will much prefer a mailto to a form for supplying
free format responses.

* the sender believes the mail was sent but the recipient does not get
* the mail or know that the message was lost (and remains ignorant that
* his/her form has this fatal flaw).

++ The headers of this article contains a mailto with a subject, based
on an even more recent RFC on providing header information to allow mail
agents to know how to manage lists for their user:

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## E.g. the abuse of meta refresh for redirection.
Received on Saturday, 4 August 2001 11:20:54 UTC

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