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RE: Anti-spam email links in Javascript


From: Jukka K. Korpela
Date: Apr 9, 2004 11:43AM

On Fri, 9 Apr 2004, John Foliot - WATS.ca wrote:

> I beg your pardon? You're saying that a form is *less* accessible than an
> email address? How can that be?

People usually know how to use E-mail. Forms are more difficult. Besides,
there assistive technologies for E-mail, whereas forms have primitive
implementations in browsers. Did you ever see browser that has a
spelling checker for the text you type into a form?

> As pointed out (within this thread), users who may be accessing your content
> through a public terminal, or who's user agent does not have (or support) an
> email client, cannot contact the site owners through a simple mailto: link.

Surely. That's why I mentioned a form as an _enhancement_. But if you
_replace_ an E-mail address by a form - which is what this was about -
you certainly reduce accessibility.

> A properly developed form, on the other hand, is just more HTML,

No, it's also a browser's implementation of forms, which is generally

> Now, it's true that many (most?) developers don't know how to do
> forms correctly

Quite right. This is important to practical accessibility. And people who
know how to write forms properly don't use them as the only means of

> no argument there - but to suggest that an email link is
> more accessible than a form, is, IMHO false. Jukka, I'll meet you half way
> (they are equal), but cannot accept your statement as written.

Of course they aren't equal. Surely one's favorite E-mail program is
easier to use than a typical browser's implementation of a typical form.

> Advantages to forms:
> - properly done, can be navigated through quickly, even more so when coded
> with the < fieldset> and < legend> attributes.

Irrelevant. We're discussing the issue of sending simple feedback.

> - *most* form scripts also allow for immediate feedback to the sender; a
> "Thank you we have received your note" type response page.

Worse than useless. It isn't even true. The feedback just says that the
script sent the data. There is no guarantee that it will actually be
delivered, still less that it will be received and read.

> This type of
> positive re-enforcement aids those with cognitive disabilities

Are you serious? It's typical pseudo-feedback. Any decent E-mail program
gives better feedback about sending E-mail.

> - all functionality is server side as opposed to client side

Again, regarding feedback forms, they just add a _new_ component, which
could be dysfunct at times.

> - as noted within this thread, using forms reduces the need to publicly
> post an email address, thus reducing spam (which *HAS* to be a good
> thing!!!)

What has the page author's assumed comfort got to do with accessibility?
I thought I already explained why it is seriously wrong to make your spam
problem your visitors' problem.

I repeat: What about people who can use an E-mail program because it has
suitable assistive technology but simply cannot use a form? You would
create an absolute barrier by simply refusing to tell your contact
address. This is foolish enough, but calling it accessibility is
grotesquely absurd.

> - using a form helps the submitter to succinctly deliver their message, as
> you are "helping them" by asking the leading questions. What is your name?
> what is your email address? what is your comment?

Oh really. When an E-mail program is used, it automatically inserts the
name and the address, once configured.

> - having a feedback form on an HTML document also allows developers to
> directly link to any privacy policy the site owners may adhere to (whereas a
> simple email has no assurances of any privacy protection).

What? Do you mean that a page containing an E-mail address cannot contain
another link, or a direct statement of a privacy policy?

(And I reallt fail to see how this relates to accessibility. The real
accessibility problem with such policies is that they are pointless
administativese, which is virtually incomprehensible to most people.)

Jukka "Yucca" Korpela, http://www.cs.tut.fi/~jkorpela/

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