Why Mailto: Email Links are Bad for Feedback!

Are email links like mailto: bad for Feedback? We all have used forms for sending feedback on websites. Why are forms better for feedback?

Mailto: Email Links

Lets what happens when you click an email link like the one below –
Email me at – yourname@yahoo.com

First, there is buzzing noise of the computer hard drive, which signifies a desperate search by your computer processor to look for the default email client (like Eudora, Outlook). Ok found it! phew! now let’s say it is Outlook Express (Gosh! I have only used Eudora!)

If it is password protected – do you remember the password?

Now the ‘Compose’ email window pops up with recipient’s email filled up, Type subject and text. Click ‘Send Email’.

Has the email actually gone? Have you configured the account settings on the email client? Forget about it if you are on a public computer as in an internet cafe. Also, many libraries have disabled the use of email clients.

Still didn’t go? Is your email account “SMTP” enabled? It is a protocol for sending email from email clients. Most free email web accounts do not offer this facility. The most prominent free email service offering free POP and SMTP access is Gmail.

If all else fails, then note down the email address on your palm (still cant find a piece of paper!)

Open your web email in your browser (still stuck with dial-up!) … Go to compose mail – type the email scribbled on your palm (I hope you didn’t wash your hands!), type subject and text. And Send email (I hope you copied the email address correctly, was it juliaroberts@aol.com or julia.roberts@aol.com !!)

  • Grrrrr……

Now we know why email forms are convenient for website users.

Benefits of email contact forms

  • You do not have to wait for their email client like Outlook or Eudora to load and to see if you can use it.
  • You don’t have to see if your email client is configured to send mail or if your favorite free web email supports SMTP access.
  • Forms also protect your email by not revealing it in the page source code and protect it from email spam.


  1. Yaron says:

    I still think an email is better.

    1. I know what I send and where I send it to, and I know I have a copy.
    2. If I suspect I’ll need further contact, keeping the email address is usually easier than maintaining a bookmark for a contact form.

    The writing on the palm was obviously an exaggaration, but copy&paste works well enough for this to hardly ever be a problem.

    And if you’re using firefox, there is this extension (not related to me in any way, I’m just using it) which connects those mailto links directly to webmail interfaces.

  2. Anonymous says:

    What Yaron said. plus, your scenario is very far fetched… I mean if people can’t send email they’re faked anyways.

    I *hate* feedback forms. It’s a nice way for folks to get an untrackable question that I may forget about later. With email I can resend them the question 2 days later with an “are you alive?” comment.

  3. Anonymous says:

    People with decent setup either have their e-mail client integrated into the browser (as I have with Opera’s M2), or have their e-mail client running hidden in the tray.

    Of course, your comment may be valid for some people, but for me personally an e-mail link is much better.

  4. MJ says:

    Nope guys, I totally agree with this article. Spammers BITE!!!

    I much rather USE a form when I visit sites for the reason above. I really did used to go through all that crappy hassle with e-mail programs opening up I had no idea how to use, etc. FRUSTRATING!!

    However, when there is a form, it’s so much easier and I know it’s gonna make it to the soon-to-be recipient.

    Not to mention lots of the auto-responder programs out there send the ‘sender’ a copy of the e-mail message just sent VIA form.

    Not bad. ;-)

    Agree that placing your e-mail on a graphic first is cool, however it’s not possible to cut and paste. If it’s a long e-mail addy, that’s a pain, too.

    I do like using the blahblah[at]suchandsuch[dot]com

    Still a little of a pin for copy/paste, but at least you can.

  5. anon says:

    I hate feedback forms on the websites of companies with whom I do business. Several of them have broken email address validation scripts. They say that my preferred email address is not valid — and refuse to accept my message unless I give them an address that I don’t check nearly as often.

    It’s like the “use this browser or we won’t talk to you” mentality with which some websites are designed.

    Bottom line: Make it difficult for your customer to talk to you, and they’ll be motivated to become someone else’s customer instead.

    “Darwin Award” wannabes refuse all input channels other than a browser-based feedback form. Let the customer decide whether they want to use a browser-based form. Give them an email address to use or be prepared to lose them as a customer.

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