Mail This Thing To A Friend December 15, 2011 6:48 AM   Subscribe

Has there ever been talk about a "mail this question to a friend" thingy for askmefi? I frequently see a question and know someone who would know the answer but completely forget to actually tell them about the post. This would probably also work on the blue... "mail this post to a friend." I never use those on sites, but I have that on my blog and I'm always surprised how much it gets used. Maybe put it up there under the "Share:" links?
posted by Blake to Feature Requests at 6:48 AM (42 comments total)

I have heard tell that email is only for old people like you and I and that most people are actually using Facebook and Twitter for their communication needs. So, it's not something that we've really talked about since we figure the people here who are still using email can copy/paste the URL and toss it into the email program of their choice. For people who don't know how to do that, mailto links can be weird things that act inappropriately and be confusing, so I guess we've never seriously considered adding this.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 6:53 AM on December 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


I wish there was a "Fax this to a friend" button on more sites.
posted by mccarty.tim at 6:59 AM on December 15, 2011 [11 favorites]


Ideally with curved corners, and gradients, and an ajaxy confirmation popup frame.
posted by mccarty.tim at 7:00 AM on December 15, 2011


Yeah, I feel like the optimal "share this with a friend mode" for mefi is taking the thing you feel like sharing and manually putting it into whatever mode of communication you normally use to share things with friends. It's a quick job and that way you get a personal touch instead of the form-letter weirdness of some automated system with default text and such.

The existing Share: widgets are a nod to a couple of really heavily used channels, but I don't know in practice how much use those are actually getting and I don't think in any case that we want to see that growing out into a big long list of widgets. mailto links, as Jess said, are sort of weird in practice in a modern email client environment, so sort of eh there.
posted by cortex (staff) at 7:01 AM on December 15, 2011


What do mailto: links have to do with the original request?
posted by Wolfdog at 7:04 AM on December 15, 2011


Well the way I see it working is either there's a mailto link or there's some sort of way in which MeFi sends actual email to people from our servers. I guess, upon caffeinated reflection, that is what Blake was talking about.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 7:08 AM on December 15, 2011


mccarty.tim: "Ideally with curved corners, and gradients, and an ajaxy confirmation popup frame"

Also, it should blank out the rest of the page when it pops up before you get a chance to read the post.
posted by ArgentCorvid at 7:10 AM on December 15, 2011


I think it should print out the thread and get mailed to the person the user wants. It'd be like bill pay at my credit union. Think about it...this could save the post office!
posted by cjorgensen at 7:34 AM on December 15, 2011 [3 favorites]


I wish my MetaTalk callouts would be sent via singing telegram.
posted by mccarty.tim at 7:36 AM on December 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


"Mailto:" or: "manically pound alt+ctrl+del to get to the task manager before Outlook Express pops up and devotes all system resources to that godforsaken initial set-up wizard/authentication key request that refuses to give up focus."
posted by griphus at 7:36 AM on December 15, 2011 [7 favorites]


Oh, and I've got a Greasemonkey script that uses a bookmarklet to send telexes to 1987, if anyone is interested.
posted by griphus at 7:37 AM on December 15, 2011 [5 favorites]


Must we turn ourselves slowly into an ersatz everything else on the webz?
posted by infini at 7:39 AM on December 15, 2011


"You damn kids with your facebooks and your twitters. Why, when I started here all we had was email, and we liked it, we LOVED it. We were still putting out cats on our scanners, we didn't need no fancy lolcats..."

Seriously though, maybe those people who would use "email this" would email it to people who can provied a good answer. People use the shit out of it on my site, to the point where those emails will get forwarded back to me as suggestions for my site.
posted by Blake at 7:43 AM on December 15, 2011


FWD: FWD: FWD: FWD: FUNNY! FWD: FWD:
posted by mccarty.tim at 7:55 AM on December 15, 2011


I can be easily reached by either drum or smoke signal in the unlikely event you need me.
posted by Abiezer at 8:21 AM on December 15, 2011


Sadly, I will be off the grid soon testing solar power - you could try semaphore
posted by infini at 8:49 AM on December 15, 2011


cortex: "The existing Share: widgets are a nod to a couple of really heavily used channels, but I don't know in practice how much use those are actually getting"

Do you guys track use of those widgets in any way? It would be sort of interesting to see, eg., whether the top posts shared on Twitter/Facebook matched Popular Favourites, how sharing to the two services differed, &c.
posted by jack_mo at 9:42 AM on December 15, 2011


Better pony:

Find me a friend to mail this to.
posted by babby╩╝); Drop table users; -- at 9:48 AM on December 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


I don't know if it's tracked/trackable at all, but pb or Matt would.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:48 AM on December 15, 2011


I have heard tell that email is only for old people like you and I and that most people are actually using Facebook and Twitter for their communication needs.

Aw, man! But I don't want to use Twitter! I feel pretty confident I can wait out Twitter's entire lifespan without missing out on much.
posted by Hoopo at 9:51 AM on December 15, 2011 [3 favorites]


Pony request: limit comments to 140 characters, then send them to me via text message.
posted by box at 10:04 AM on December 15, 2011


Must we turn ourselves slowly into an ersatz everything else on the webz?

Lett's Law
posted by Jpfed at 10:20 AM on December 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


Do you guys track use of those widgets in any way?

No, we don't track that usage at all. If you see mefi.us URLs out in the wild, they likely came from the post-to-Twitter feature. I think that's the only place we use them. So you can track usage a bit by doing a search for mefi.us URLs on Twitter.
posted by pb (staff) at 10:52 AM on December 15, 2011


oh I should mention that most browsers have an "email page location" built in. In Chrome it's in the top menu: File > Email Page Location. Firefox has it in File > Send Link. Safari has File > Mail Link to This Page. I'm pretty sure IE and Opera both have it too but I don't have copies handy.
posted by pb (staff) at 10:56 AM on December 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


I feel pretty confident I can wait out Twitter's entire lifespan without missing out on much.

That's what I said about pants and look where we are today.
posted by griphus at 11:09 AM on December 15, 2011 [4 favorites]


I usually go the route of copying the text into word, converting to .pdf, printing, taking a polaroid picture of the printout, attaching it to my neighbour's dog's collar, and sending him to the knowledgeable friend's house.
posted by mannequito at 12:29 PM on December 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


I usually go the route of copying the text into word, converting to .pdf, printing, taking a polaroid picture of the printout, attaching it to my neighbour's dog's collar, and sending him to the knowledgeable friend's house.

All my elderly relatives go the route of taking pictures of their neighbour's dog, copying them into word and sending them (FWD FWD FWD) to everyone in their address book.

It doesn't make it right.
posted by lollusc at 12:48 PM on December 15, 2011


My private network of semaphore towers seems to work just fine.
posted by briank at 1:05 PM on December 15, 2011


Not needed. It's so easy to take a picture of the screen with my iPhone camera and email the photo.

If you don't have an iPhone, take a Polaroid picture, and use the "E-mail to" function on your scanner's software.
posted by The Deej at 1:57 PM on December 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


I think this could be a good idea. I admiring don't have stats handy, but I feel like the drop off for each additional step is pretty huge, to the point where the difference between

"hunh, you know who'd know about that"-----1-click---->email
vs.
"hunh"---->highlight, copy---->open email--->create message---->paste, send

Would be pretty significant. If one is say, 10x as likely to do the former as the latter, then there really could be a lot of helpful message that would get through under the first option that wouldn't under the second.
posted by Diablevert at 2:06 PM on December 15, 2011


Aren't all mail and share and like gizmos data collectors for the pages/sites you're mailing and sharing and liking?

This is a serious question. When I see a built-in way to share, I have a little less love for whoever built it in.
posted by Lesser Shrew at 2:27 PM on December 15, 2011


The big difference between 'share' buttons for things like Facebook and Twitter and a 'share by e-mail' button is that Facebook/Twitter have built-in, consistent tools that are designed to do exactly this. A 'share by e-mail' ability assumes that the user has an e-mail application that is both able to be called up via a Web link and is connected to the e-mail account that the user would want to send the link from. Such functons rely on unknown and possibly non-existent third party applications to be present and correctly configured in order to work. If nothing else, it would introduce a support nightmare of people complaining that it either doesn't work or they accidentally sent a link to a scat fetish porn site from their work e-mail and now HR wants to have a litte chat with them.
posted by dg at 3:06 PM on December 15, 2011


Easier share is worse share. It's not a good thing that your Mom has figured out email lists and forwards, and it's not a good thing that facebook tells you all the articles your friends read if they install the article app. Difficulty in sharing leads to better filtering of shared items.
posted by garlic at 3:55 PM on December 15, 2011


I have an iPhone (lie) but instead of snapping the screen and using the email thingajig I open the dialer to call my friend. Then I say, 'Do you have a pen handy?' and go from there.
posted by carsonb at 8:01 PM on December 15, 2011


I have heard tell that email is only for old people like you and I and that most people are actually using Facebook and Twitter for their communication needs.

Aw, man! But I don't want to use Twitter! I feel pretty confident I can wait out Twitter's entire lifespan without missing out on much.


I'm sure us civilians will be shoveled out of the way soon as tweeting becomes this century's equivalent of jousting
posted by infini at 9:42 PM on December 15, 2011


Just shoot the pony that requests a "spouse this user" and we'll survive
posted by infini at 12:56 AM on December 16, 2011


A 'share by e-mail' ability assumes that the user has an e-mail application that is both able to be called up via a Web link and is connected to the e-mail account that the user would want to send the link from.

On a technical level, your assumption of their assumptions is incorrect. An SMTP server can send email as if it were coming from anyone. If a site has a "share by email" button, and you click it, they can then ask you "ok, who do you want to send as?" and then it can compose and send the email as if it were coming from the address you specified.

On a practical level, no one provides services of that nature because the users would abuse it so badly.
posted by Jpfed at 9:46 AM on December 16, 2011


Aren't all mail and share and like gizmos data collectors for the pages/sites you're mailing and sharing and liking?

It'd be hard to know for sure, but I assume so and act accordingly.

Even if not, mails sent that way (hey, random webserver, send my friend an email and say it's from me!) are likely to be considered spam by many receivers.
posted by fritley at 12:09 PM on December 16, 2011


An SMTP server can send email as if it were coming from anyone.

SPF and SenderID fix this problem. Responsible sites use one or both of them.
posted by fritley at 12:12 PM on December 16, 2011


Mailto only for registered users with an email in their profile. No need to ask who they want to send it as.
posted by Doofus Magoo at 5:51 PM on December 16, 2011


dg writes " A 'share by e-mail' ability assumes that the user has an e-mail application that is both able to be called up via a Web link and is connected to the e-mail account that the user would want to send the link from. Such functons rely on unknown and possibly non-existent third party applications to be present and correctly configured in order to work. If nothing else, it would introduce a support nightmare of people complaining that it either doesn't work or they accidentally sent a link to a scat fetish porn site from their work e-mail and now HR wants to have a litte chat with them."

Not to advocate for the pony, i don't really care one way or another, however Kijiji handles this perfectly. Mail comes from Kijiji with just a refering email address in the email so no proxy spam problems and I'm assuming they throttle it in someway besides the usual captcha verification. All done server side so no assumptions about installed applications. It's probably old hat in the web world but it's the first site I've used with this function that just plain works in a non-confusing way.
posted by Mitheral at 2:00 AM on December 18, 2011


Well, it's no surprise that 'share by e-mail' can be done better than on pretty much every site I've tried to use such a feature. I was speaking from a practical perspective and the experience that any function relying on third party systems to work is problematic to start with. Anything that relies on client-side systems is just plain asking for trouble.
posted by dg at 7:27 PM on December 18, 2011


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