Confirm Email on Contact Form?

I’m working on a “Contact us” form which requires the user’s email.

Should I assume people can type their own email address, of should I add a second input box labeled “Confirm Email”.

I would like to think you don’t have to be as stringent as when people register, however, it might be a good idea, because it would suck if someone spent 5 minutes typing a question or comment, fat-fingered their own email address, and then I never got it.

What do you think?

Noooooooooooo! Don’t do it! Browsers often autocomplete anyway, but there’s nothing more annoying than having to enter your email address twice (well, there are lots of annoying things in them world, so no need to add to them unnecessarily.) Making me enter my email address twice just says to me “You are probably too stupid to get your email address right, so try again”. If people are too stupid to check that they’ve entered it correctly, then I don’t want to hear from them anyway. :stuck_out_tongue:

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So how do you really feel, ralphm? LOL

Well, users are generally stupid, but I see your point.


O, well, if you really want to know … (nah, on second thoughts, I’d have to ban myself … :stuck_out_tongue: )

I have a contact form on a site, and a few years ago I kept getting messages from the same guy, day after day. I kept trying to reply, but his email address always bounced back with the message that the address didn’t exist. The poor fool didn’t even know his own email address. There’s only so much you can do for such people … but seriously, I suspect the autocomplete feature in a lot of browsers has minimised the problem of incorrect email addresses these days.

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I’m not sure what you mean by this…

Only if you don’t want a lot of people to fill out the form. Any site that thinks people are too stupid that their browser can’t correctly enter their email address in the first email field is owned by someone who isn’t worth contacting.

If the browser autofills the first email address incorrectly then it will obviously also autofill the second incorrectly as well - having the field twice achieves nothing.

Having two password fields for entering a new password makes sense if the password is not displayed as plain text because if you can’t see if you made a typo you can’t fix it. Having any plain text field duplicated just shows that you don’t understand why fields might need to be duplicated. Duplicating a field that most browsers will autofill for you achieves nothing whatsoever except to show how little you know about form design.

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If I start to type my email address in my browser, the browser offers to finish the job with a single Return/Enter, because it remembers it from previous occasions. That’s pretty standard these days. Of course, you may be on some else’s computer when filling in the form … but then the other considerations come into play. The chance that I might mistype my email address and not check that I made a booboo is about as likely as me getting my name wrong and not noticing.

Seems like a rather hostile response…

For as long as I can remember, when you create an account you are usually asked for your Username and Password twice because they are crucial fields.

Submitting a comment or questions obviously is not in the same category, and that is why I figured I would ask.

But I’m not sure of the tone of your post, because you make it sound like I am an idiot for even thinking of having a confirmation field.

And I still don’t understand what these “autofill” references are supposed to mean…

That assumes someone has “Remember my Form and Search Hsitory” checked - I don’t for security reasons.

Personally, I think users are pretty sloppy when they type - if they weren’t, you wouldn’t need field validation.

Again, I get that this is not setting up any account, and so it isn’t life or death.

But based on felgall’s response above, he makes it sound like I’m an idiot for ever having a confirmation field anywhere on my site (except for password).

I thought I was using conventional wisdom on this topic.

Did something change and I didn’t get the memo?

I don’t know how many contact forms I’ve seen in ~15 years a surfing, but IIRC, I have never seen a contact form with an email confirmation field.

Not to say you couldn’s start a new trend.

Maybe try both in an A/B test and see what happens?

I don’t disagree with you, but what about on a registration form?

It seems rather common to me.

That’s my opinion. Obviously others think that the people entering information into forms are incapable of checking that they typed things correctly (or that their browser filled it in correctly in many cases). I’d rather think that the small percentage of form owners who duplicate form fields unnecessarily are stupid than agree with them that millions of web users are stupid. Most people are smart enough to be able to check that they typed information into a form correctly (assuming it is for uncommon fields that their browser doesn’t fill in for them). They are as likely to get their email address incorrect as to get their name wrong (and I haven’t seen a form ask for that twice). Anyway, if they did somehow type it wrong in the first field then it will still be wrong when they copy and paste it into the second field.

The only fields you need to ask for twice are ones being entered for the first time where the field type is password which prevents the person being able to check what they typed.

Usually to enter my email address into a form I type ‘s’, then select the third entry in the list. How is getting me to do that a second time going to achieve anything other than to annoy me b y making me do it twice unnecessarily - which I usually don’t as I generally look for an alternative site instead.

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I wouldn’t say that a coder thinking of such things is “stupid” - but I’m too considerate to toss that word around lightly. (hint)

But I will say that any coder that considers adding redundant inputs is likely overthinking and will have problems getting work done in a timely fashion.

The concept doesn’t need thinking, it needs (A/B) testing, try it and see.

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Okay. Most of them probably just haven’t thought things through properly and so have copied the concept from other sites without considering that it will have no effect on the validity of the email address and simply adds an extra copy/paste step for the person filling out the form.

With duplicate input fields in a form where the content is displayed in plain text the person filling out the form can:

  1. if it is a common value their browser has memorised then it can be filled in automatically both times.
  2. If it is a common enough field that they enter it reasonably often and their browser has autocomplete then they simply need to type enough of it for the browser to fill in the rest.
  3. It their browser doesn’t do either of the above then they can type the value into the first field and then copy/paste it into the second field. In which case if they typed it wrong the first time it will also be wrong the second time.

By not including the field twice people will be more likely to check that they typed it correctly and so you will get fewer incorrect values with one field than you will if you duplicate the field.

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I have already acquiesced about having a confirmation field on my contact form, but do you feel the same way about a registration form and a field like “username” where if you screw it up it can never be fixed?

That assumes people copy & paste.

Maybe in 2014 people do that out of laziness, but I think 15 years ago having two fields was good because people DID type in things like username twice and thus your code could check for differences.

You give end users way too much credit…

I assume users will almost always screw up unless I help them not to!

Looks like we disagree on this point!

The way to do that is to get the user to enter all of the information once. When they submit the form you then display what they entered and ask them to confirm if it is correct. If they identify that it isn’t correct you then return them to the form so that they can correct the fields that they need to.

At least that’s how sites that want to remind users to check what they have entered usually do if they are serious about getting the user to check what they entered.

Field validation is more important for avoiding malicious code injections.

Yes, exactly. That’s easier than typing it again.

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