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Do people use the mailto: tag?

I mean really... Do any users actually click on this thing?

     
11:50 am on Jul 17, 2003 (gmt 0)

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I've got a page that I have to trim down. One of the options that crossed my mind was to get rid of the mailto hrefs and just leave the e-mails hanging out in plain text. I'm a Unix user who uses pine/mutt to check his mail from a Windows box so I obviously never click on an e-mail address, but my question is, what about the public?

Does anyone know where I could find some info on this topic or have any experience with it themselves?

11:56 am on July 17, 2003 (gmt 0)

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Personally I click on them all the time - I always have done and will continue to do so because for me it's an accepted part of how the internet works - just like clicking a link should take me somewhere.

I'd suggest that you don't even think about removing the mailto functionality and leaving it as plain text as it looks like sloppy/lazy work on the part of the designer who didn't care enough/know enough to make it into a link. (In the same way that having a normal URL unlinked and in plaintext would look unprofessional).

Out of curiousity how much space would stripping mailto's save?

- Tony

12:15 pm on July 17, 2003 (gmt 0)

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This may sound obvious, but if I want to email somone and their address is linked on a website, I click the mailto link.

These links are not always great though - often mailto links are put into links titled 'contact' and suchlike, and this makes it extremely annoying to open up your email program when you expected another page. So if you use them, make sure it's obvious that it isn't a page link, but an email link.

Also, these types of links generally depend on the user's browser configuration being correct. I often browse with Mozilla, and it is tricky to change the default handler for mailto: links if you install the moz built in email program. So whenever I (accidentally - see above) click on a mailto link, I groan and have to copy and paste the email into an alternative program.

12:25 pm on July 17, 2003 (gmt 0)

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Also something to bare in mind - having mailto:e-mail links within your page makes it easy for spammers to 'harvest' your mail accounts.

there has been alot of threads on this - recent one here [webmasterworld.com]

12:49 pm on July 17, 2003 (gmt 0)

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Ya I click too. And actually hate when I have to copy and paste email into my mail program.
12:56 pm on July 17, 2003 (gmt 0)

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I had a mailform.matts thingymebobby..and a mailto:
and customers always used the mailto
i ended up taking the form off.
1:01 pm on July 17, 2003 (gmt 0)

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I never bothered to configure a mail client, so I don't klick. I guess many users out there don't even know how to do that.
1:31 pm on July 17, 2003 (gmt 0)

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I never bothered to configure a mail client, so I don't klick. I guess many users out there don't even know how to do that.

Very whitetrash comment I know, but using Windows + Office the configuration is performed automatically so there is no concious effort required on the part of the user.

- Tony

1:34 pm on July 17, 2003 (gmt 0)

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Tony, I suppose this only holds true if you use Outlook (which is not my case) and IE (also not my case). But if this is the case, then I stand corrected and most users will have it.
1:35 pm on July 17, 2003 (gmt 0)

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Thanks for the replies gang. Will look for places to trim down on the page size elsewhere.
1:39 pm on July 17, 2003 (gmt 0)

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Sinner_G and Dreamquick,
I'm one of the odd-balls then - no smart remarks please ;). I don't use M$ Outlook nor IE and I have gone to the pains of ensuring I can click on mailto links and initiate my email client.
1:41 pm on July 17, 2003 (gmt 0)

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Karmov - first thing to do is remove any <font> tags, colors and any other formatting that can be done in CSS - my 2 cents...

Regards,
Brent

2:20 pm on July 17, 2003 (gmt 0)

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bcol : the page is pretty lean, just has a lot of people and their contact info on it. We're using a character encoding method to somewhat protect the e-mails from spam harvesters. That's what's generating the bulk of the page size. Every character in an e-mail is represented by 6 characters and then the same thing happens in the mailto. So each character in an e-mail adress winds up taking 12 characters of space on the web page. This is where my problem is coming from and that's why droping the mailtos would have helped so much. It would have cut the page size by approximately 33%. There's not a whole lot of HTML on the page... A little bit and I'm going to work it over to trim it down, but as I said, there isn't much there to trim it down.

Before anyone suggests it, I realise that I can break it up in to seperate pages, but that has a whole pile of usability issues associated with it that exceed the page size problem.

2:28 pm on July 17, 2003 (gmt 0)

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I personally don't click on the mailto: links anytime as I don't use any email clients like outlook or eudora. Rather I would copy-paste the email address and use my own webmail interface to send an email.

There are tons of people out there who click on mailto: links and send email via their email client, as well as tons who don't use email clients but use webmail interface such as Yahoo or Hotmail.

But the best bet would be to keep those mailto: links rather than save a few kbs. Those who use email clients would find their job halfdone and those like me would simply copy-paste the link and send via their preferred method.

Lastly as mentioned above, it would be unprofessional to leave the email address with the mailto: link.

2:36 pm on July 17, 2003 (gmt 0)

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I thought about character encoding of addresses, but instead I have my addresses heavily filtered then forwarded to real addresses - works for me.

Regards,
Brent

2:37 pm on July 17, 2003 (gmt 0)

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Karmov, everyone likes to be able to break down the general population into two groups - people who like cats, and those who don't, etc.

I'd say there are two kinds of surfers - those who click on mail links, and those who don't. I usually do, because I have an e-mail client configured on the PCs I use most frequently. However, I also surf from PCs without mail clients. And, of course, if someone else uses my PC, they don't want to pop open my mail client to send a message.

Therefore, I'd recommend offering a form option as well. With a little coding, you could even configure the form to send an e-mail to Bill Jones if the user clicks on the Bill Jones link.

This doesn't help your page size problem at all, though. :(

2:47 pm on July 17, 2003 (gmt 0)

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there are two kinds of surfers - those who click on mail links, and those who don't

As a user, I hate clicking on things that *spawn* other things. Pop-ups, programs opening, junk downloading and/or installing ... these things drive me insane.

So I nearly always mouseover a link to see if I can tell what's gonna happen before I click - and I have my killswitch at the ready.

As a user: no clicking on mailto.

As a web manager: mailto's everywhere! They need help? I want them to have it at the easiest means possible. One click --> help.

6:01 pm on July 17, 2003 (gmt 0)

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As a web manager: mailto's everywhere! They need help? I want them to have it at the easiest means possible. One click --> help.

Assuming that gets them help. If you use yahoo or hotmail as your mail browser -- or anything other than outlook -- you either get an error or get a message from an unconfigured outlook program that asks you to configure your mail client.

I personally dislike mailto tags for that reason: you can't assume to know what mail client the surfer is using.

7:13 pm on July 17, 2003 (gmt 0)

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We use mailto's on a limited basis - enough for the visitors to be able to contact different departments easily, depending the page content. According to our site statistics, a HUGE majority of visitors are using IE to view our site. That usually means they are using Outlook or Outlook Express as their mail client.
7:29 pm on July 17, 2003 (gmt 0)

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Krieves: do you know if the MSN butterfly people are able to use outlook for their mail? Or do they use hotmail?

I always have an email address people can cut and paste or a form for people to fill out. I don't like to assume people even *have* an email client. There are a lot of people who use web based email such as Yahoo mail, AOL, and Hotmail.

7:38 pm on July 17, 2003 (gmt 0)

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Hmm, good question. I dunno for sure. However, we have hundreds of customers that have listed their email address as either @msn.com or @email.msn.com (most are @msn.com). So, I'm guessing that when they subscribe they at least have the option of using an MSN address.
1:38 pm on July 18, 2003 (gmt 0)

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I never click on those mailto links. I don't use IE or Outlook, and actually I don't even have any mail client configured because I use webmail only.

I don't have anything against mailto links, as long as the anchor text clearly shows it's a mailto link. Because it's extremely annoying to click on a "contact" link just to find out I get an error message, I always do like Hawkgirl - I mouse over a link to see where it goes.

Anyway, if you decide to use mailto links, make sure you show the email address in the anchor text. For those (like me) who don't use the link, nothing is more annoying than those mailto links that say "contact", and the user has to mouse over the link to see the email address and type it in!

I used to have all the email addresses on my site as mailto links, but after getting paranoid about email harvesting spam bots, I removed the mailto links.