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I've never had one on any of my cleint sites so I am really open to knowledge and suggestions. Like: What language is most solid and compatible? How can I get the data out? Whose email provider is best to use (some of these scripts use the users email provider and launch user side)? What is the best format to dump the collected data into (eventually it will go into an Access DB)?
Summary: Invite a Friend Script
1. How does it work?
2. Triple Duty - Send Email Invitation, Collect both email Addresses, Enter user into drawing (file format recommendations)
3. Must be on my server to protect my users data! (no outsourcing)
PS. I so appreciate the great responses I've been getting here, you are all the best! I've been making a special effort to contribute answers to questions from the less expereinced users, it is nice place here with a great spectrum of webmasters of all levels helping one another! I really appreciate the knowledge I've gotten from you all!
some of these scripts use the users email provider and launch user side
You do that by simply using a mailto link:
<a href="mailto:email@example.com">Invite a friend</a>
There's a more complex syntax that allows you to fill-in the subject and body.
This depends on the user's browser and email client being properly configured and able to understand the syntax.
1. Allows me to collect inviter & invitee name and email
You should consider how the invitee opt-in to having their details stored on your database. We never store any details of the recipients of 'send to a friend' scripts. Too many potential problems.