Emails in Profiles April 26, 2002 8:33 AM   Subscribe

I think it's fantastic that our email addresses are now shielded from non-members, but that still means that 13,000 people are free to send anonymous flames to any member--or to sign them up for spam. How about this: Instead of the profile page displaying the email address, it shows an email form. One would have to be logged in to use it, the sender's username would show up in the email, and the recipient's address would remain hidden.
posted by jpoulos to Feature Requests at 8:33 AM (26 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

...Or, given the size of the member base, would that be a logistical nightmare? Note: For the record, I haven't received any flames or been signed up to spam, but I know others have.
posted by jpoulos at 8:35 AM on April 26, 2002

it's been mentioned before (I'm too slack to search) but to my mind at least, the big problem is the server resources that would eat.

it'd be a kickass idea, if not for that.
posted by Sapphireblue at 8:38 AM on April 26, 2002

It's been brought up before (1, 2, etc). As Sapphireblue said it boils down to the server resources used.
posted by riffola at 8:40 AM on April 26, 2002

Well, maybe with the new server Matt's building, there may be resources to spare.
posted by crunchland at 8:43 AM on April 26, 2002'd i miss that? maybe i'm not the mefi junkie i thought i was.
posted by jpoulos at 8:46 AM on April 26, 2002

Would it have to be handled by the same server? Couln't someone else host that service?
posted by rodii at 8:53 AM on April 26, 2002

I'm getting some real cleaver ones. Whom ever it is, get a life, and use more creative things. better yet, stop before I call in the sniffer dogs. anyone with a axe to grind, do it with e-mail.
posted by clavdivs at 8:53 AM on April 26, 2002

Although it's been brought up before, personally I would like to see such a feature in place with some latency thrown in. So that the system couldn't be used to instantly flame someone in private, or use it for chit-chat.
posted by riffola at 8:54 AM on April 26, 2002

I don't think a few people occasionally sending e-mail would really use all that many server resources. However, a downside of this would be that you wouldn't have a copy of the e-mail you sent in your outbox, since MeFi sent it instead of you.

What I suggest instead is that the MeFi server send the logged-in user (who wishes to initiate communication) an e-mail with a Reply-To of the desired user. Then the logged-in user would reply to this message to get in touch with the desired user. At the same time the server sends a second short e-mail to the user being contacted, indicating that someone has requested their e-mail address and providing their username and e-mail address. Thus, in order to get someone's e-mail address, you must allow them to also have yours. And if all e-mail addresses on MeFi must be validated, you know you have a real one. This makes it trivial to track down pornbombers and the like.
posted by kindall at 8:57 AM on April 26, 2002

Maybe sending in a donation would help the cause? (upgrading the server). I realize not everyone can donate, but MeFi really is a cheap form of entertainment.
posted by RunsWithBandageScissors at 9:23 AM on April 26, 2002

As one of those who were porn-bombed I have to say that, since I changed my e-mail address and the new system kicked in, I haven't had one single piece of spam. In about three weeks. So the porn-bomber - if there was one - has desisted and the robots haven't been able to do any harvesting here.
posted by MiguelCardoso at 9:28 AM on April 26, 2002

on the subject of the form to mail. since it would be a strain on the system, why not just hold all the messages in a queue. then when the server load drops, say the wee hours of the morning, it can start shooting out the mail messages. when the server load gets too high again, the mail stops and waits for the server to load to drop again.
posted by chrisroberts at 9:47 AM on April 26, 2002

If MeFiMail is tied to membership---of course it would be---you're talking about having to have access to the database for the sake of member information. So that says "server resources ahoy" to me. Doubt it'd be a "few" or "occasionally" either: it *would* turn into chatter. Which IMHO would actually be a good thing, because it keeps chatter off the site somewhat, while still allowing the community to, you know, communicate.

But back to tactics---You could easily host the logic of a MeFiMail system on another server. Might even be a good idea; then you wouldn't be tied necessarily to ColdFusion's CFMAIL, which in my experience is less than reliable (and that's with apps of no more than a couple hundred users). But the database is a different thing. You'd need to replicate or export it, part of it anyway, to this other server: if you didn't, there's zero benefit to having the separate machine. It would take some work, and assumes that Matt & the community would be okay with sharing all of MeFi's user data that way; there'd be security implications for sure, real and perceived.
posted by Sapphireblue at 9:50 AM on April 26, 2002

Perhaps Yahoo can help us out with this.
posted by Skot at 9:51 AM on April 26, 2002

I think people are talking about two different things here.

Having a form-to-email wouldn't be bad on server resources, but like SB said, the mail engine in CF, CFMAIL is a bit buggy. In terms of privacy, if you ever responded to anyone's message in your email app, they'd have your address to do with as they please. Not much different than just giving it to other members in the first place.

To truly sheild privacy, an internal notes system would have to be developed that wasn't tied to email at all, and then server resources (not to mention all the coding, and recoding after someone figures out how to hack it) is a problem. Also, how about the people that choose not to interact with others? Would they get to opt out of an internal notes system?
posted by mathowie (staff) at 10:01 AM on April 26, 2002

Miguel, how quickly you forget. That is why I do not display my email address any more. Matt has it if he needs it, but I just don't trust the situation all that much. I'm very fond of kindall's idea. Being able to pick and choose who to respond to is preferable to me, over having a little "fuck you" love note pop up on the screen as my boss walks into the room.
posted by Wulfgar! at 10:06 AM on April 26, 2002

anyone with a axe to grind, do it with e-mail.

ditto: unbelievable to what I have subscribed of late.

┬┐sniffer dogs?

posted by y2karl at 10:12 AM on April 26, 2002

"┬┐sniffer dogs?"- that would be telling;)
I'm defencless when it comes to tech, my Patron advised on all the standard precautions. It is not that bigga hill, ya know, but if my child happens upon some of this trash, I'm calling in a marker...along the lines of that Phalkin case...then taking steps...I'm barking here cause thats all I can do. At some point, when i could display some decorum, i would have like to e-mail some of you all...i know, "please dont" but i am a little smiffed that i cant in some cases. calling in a marker is a big deal, not worth it at this point and from what i understand, it could be fruitless.

posted by clavdivs at 10:44 AM on April 26, 2002

*twitch* CFMAIL gives me vietnam-like flashbacks, and its the very reason I vowed never to touch cold fusion again. That, and I think a tag based language for code is dumb idea. PHP, JSP, ASP, all super, but CFML can rot in hell. When I met JJ Allaire, all I could say is "Um, I like home site!".

Er, sorry for the tangent.

Anyway, I really think an internal notes system is overkill. People who are concerned about privacy should just use one of the many free web services. Or, better yet, sign up for a self-destructing disposable email address with Spam Gourmet email address with like 20 sends, refill accordingly, start getting spam, just make a new one. No biggie.
posted by malphigian at 10:57 AM on April 26, 2002

if someone could contact the koreans and inform them that i would not benefit from their CrazyEnglish! package.
thanks. stop the spam.
posted by moz at 12:26 PM on April 26, 2002

How many Mefi Members does it take to screw in a light bulb? Why is the problem with establishing an e-mail address specifically for Metafilter, and posting that on your member page? Same thing for AIM? What am I missing here?
posted by ParisParamus at 2:40 PM on April 26, 2002

Actually, what is the problem? I mean, so I have a lot of Al-Jazeera news alert e-mails to delete. Wow.
posted by ParisParamus at 2:45 PM on April 26, 2002

I'm curious what the fuss is about, I guess. I've never had any mail-related problems from MeFi, no noticable amount of spam in general and certainly not any change since registering as a MeFi user.

Have a significant number of users been having serious spam trouble or flame trouble from other users? If that thing does go on a lot, I suppose it wouldn't happen to me because I'm not particularly vocal or conspicuous on the site, just an average-Joe-ish sort who comments occasionaly. But if that supposition is on target, how many people are we talking about having trouble with e-mail, then?

And I know that's full of assumptions -- I'm curious, not trying to be a pain in the ass. My instinct here is to agree with ParisParamus: if you're having, or expecting, spam troubles, get yerself a throwaway account to show on MeFi, dig through that on a weekly basis.
posted by cortex at 4:08 PM on April 26, 2002

Spamicide is painless.
posted by ParisParamus at 4:55 PM on April 26, 2002

ParisParamus and cortex: The thread that Wulfgar pointed out is what people are concerned about. MeFi users may decided to use your email address unscrupulously.
posted by jaden at 5:08 PM on April 26, 2002

I think MH has enough on his plate already.
posted by ParisParamus at 5:35 AM on April 27, 2002

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