One way to make sure nobody sends you feedback


Last year, somebody sent out a message to very large group of people describing a change to, well, what it described isn't important to the story. What's important is that the message ended with the following sentence:

If you have questions, please send them to abcdef.

If you don't see why this was a brilliant move, go back and check what that "abcdef" link really does.

One of my cynical colleagues noted, "Maybe this was intentional. That way, when they get no feedback, they can say, 'See, this was an awesome decision. Nobody complained!'"

Comments (17)
  1. John says:

    Maybe they thought it work automagically with the combination of Outlook and Active Directory.  It seems Outlook just treats that as an email address and doesn’t do anything special with it.

  2. Gabe says:

    It’s unfortunately fairly common for web sites to not have any real means of contacting them except via a web form. It’s also unfortunately fairly common for feedback web forms to be broken. Combining the two leaves no way to contact the owner of the site.

  3. Mark (The other Mark) says:

    John, depending on the enviroment, it might. In my envirmoment, an internal link that says mailto:Mark would indeed email me.

    Except… it’s mispelled. The link should be for abcdEf, the mailto is to abcdf.

    Or, in may case, while mailto:Mark works, mailto:Mrk does not.

  4. AndyL says:

    As a related point of interest, this blog has a "Contact Me" link that provides no way of contacting the author.

  5. Neil (SM) says:

    So the author of the message misspelled the underlying hyperlinked mailto: url?  Sorry, I guess I need a roadmap today.

  6. AndyL says:

    I think the point is that the author inputted nonsense instead of an email address.

  7. John says:

    Doh.  I didn’t even notice it was a typo.  I guess that makes my point irrelevant.

  8. Chriso says:

    Till someone comes up with the great idea to type in the right email address and not just clicking on the mailto link! :-D

  9. Nathan says:

    I suspect this may have been the e-mail editor’s fault.  Imagine they typed in abcdf@example.com and it was automatically turned into a link.  They realized their mistake and edited it to read abcdef@example.com.  This may not have updated the underlying hyperlink, however.

    If it was done manually with a mailto:abcdf hyperlink, that’s another story.

  10. Worf says:

    @AndyL: there are a few ways to contact Raymond.

    1) Know him personally

    2) Know him professionally

    Or, my favorite,

    3) Get your friend at Microsoft to contact him on your behalf.

    (Microsoft’s big enough that you should know someone there – at the very worst, through a few degrees of separation).

  11. Walter says:

    Several of my colleagues have manually copied their Outlook signatures from each other, which means that they have mailto links pointing to "firstname.lastname@company.nl".

    But then I can’t see the point in putting your email address at the bottom of an, uh, email message.

  12. Medinoc says:

    One other way is to have a CAPTCHA that doesn’t work:

    The CAPTCHA picture here doesn’t show, with no explanation whatsoever, if cookies are disabled.

  13. Mark (The other Mark) says:

    The oft stated reason for including your e-mail address in your signature is for when your e-mail is forwarded.

    For example, when my e-mail is fowarded, the new person sees my address as "Mark, TheOther". The address in my signature, however, is intact.

    However, Corporate Policy also dictates that I only add my signature to "New" e-mails, so that only works if I started the e-mail chain that got forwarded…

  14. dave says:

    The oft stated reason for including your e-mail address in your signature is for when your e-mail is forwarded.

    In other words, fixing a feature with a feature.

    In days of old, email UIs used to show actual email addresses (possibly alongside a comment that gave a real-world name).

    But that was obviously too useful, so it had to be done away with.

    So now that the email software pretends it doesn’t know email addresses, the users of the email software have to make up the deficiency.

  15. ulric says:

    I once sent a mail to whole the team and it ended with the phrase

    "If you have any questions, please do hesitate to ask"

    So a colleague wrote back and said

    "You mean do NOT hesitate to ask! :)"

    I wrote back:

    "That’s not what I wrote."

  16. mikeb says:

    Strange – it usually takes no effort at all to get no feedback on something. Actually *getting* feedback is the tricky bit.

  17. GregM says:

    "So now that the email software pretends it doesn’t know email addresses, the users of the email software have to make up the deficiency."

    Email addresses in signatures have been around a lot longer than email software pretending it doesn’t know about them.

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