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  1. #1
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    Problems with MAILTO – brainstorm user friendly alternative

    The benefit of using MAILTO is when the user clicks on them, they open the users e-mail application and populates the TO area of a new e-mail message.

    Problems with MAILTO links
    • Spammers have created systems to harvest web sites looking for e-mail address.

    • Users are accessing the internet from devices other than their PC’s which normally do not provide access to an e-mail application.

    • MAILTO does not work with web based mail applications.

    There are probably many other issues surrounding MAILTO, but I think people get the point.

    The purpose of this post is to determine how others have made e-mail addresses accessible and easy to use for the user while also working around the issues with MAILTO.

    My specific purpose to using MAILTO was that I am providing a directory to users which contain Name, Phone Number, E-Mail address. My original intent was to have the e-mail address a link using MAILTO but this is not an acceptable option after considering the issues surrounding MAILTO. A possible option I am evaluating is providing a link when the user mouses over the e-mail address that says “Copy E-Mail to Clipboard”. Before I actually implement this approach, I wanted to see how others addressed this situation to see if there was a more user friendly option.

    If you have a different idea, I would appreciate some feedback on it.

    Thanks in advance for your time.

  2. #2
    I meant that to happen silver trophybronze trophy Raffles's Avatar
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    From what I've seen, all methods of email obfuscation have a pitfall of some sort. Using javascript, for instance, doesn't allow users with JS off to see the real address. Have you tried a google search? There's lots of information out there.

    http://www.google.co.uk/search?q=ema...ient=firefox-a


    Also, copying things to the clipboard can't be done cross-browser just with javascript. The best solution seems to be to use a small SWF to do it, but then of course there's the problem of not everyone having Flash installed. Mozilla for example doesn't allow copying to clipboard with JS, but Firefox detects email addresses and when you right click one it gives you the option of copying it to clipboard.

    My advice is to forget about creating a link to help people copy to clipboard. The vast majority of people who can use a web browser should be able to copy text.

  3. #3
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    Thank you for the feedback. Maybe the best option is to just do nothing.

    Also, thank you for the link about e-mail obfuscation. I had never heard of that before. As for the Flash option, I agree it may be a good idea but since I do not have access to Flash and would also have to learn how to use it, they would not be an acceptable option for myself.

  4. #4
    I meant that to happen silver trophybronze trophy Raffles's Avatar
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    Yes, I think the best option is to do nothing.

    Should you choose to try the Flash option, though, you don't need "access to Flash". Try searching on google for something like "swf copy clipboard", I'm sure some good soul has made something available.

  5. #5
    Programming Since 1978 silver trophybronze trophy felgall's Avatar
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    The only user friendly method of providing a way for people to send you emails is to use a contact form so that they will still have a way to send when there is no separate email program on the computer (eg. internet cafe, library, schools, etc). Copying the email to the clipboard will not help anyone who doesn't have access to an email program or webmail and some public computers will have webmail options disabled as well as not having a separate program.


    The only people you can be certain will be able to use a mailto link or an email address included in your page any other way no matter how encoded are the spammers.
    Stephen J Chapman

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