Should I have contact information on my blog?
What are your thoughts about putting an email/contact address on a blog? Sometimes people don’t want to leave a comment and send me long letters through the ‘conversation’ function at my Etsy shop, which is really strange, because they have to go to a whole different website and set up an account. I don’t want the email addy to be harvested but I think I need a way for people to get hold of me aside from the comments. What’s your recommendation?
This is an interesting question because there are so many possible ways you can address this. One solution is to have a separate HTML form that lets people enter comments for you independent of the blog comment form. That's what I have on my business blog: contact me form.
That's nice, but perhaps beyond the programing capabilities of most non-geek bloggers. :-)
On this site, I have a similar form that has been subverted to my "ask" feature and plenty of people contact me through that form too: Ask Dave A Question. The challenge with that is two-fold: first, you have to go through a multi-step process to verify your email address, and second you also have to wait until I notice your question in my ever-growing queue (2218 at this moment), which can take weeks...
Another solution is to throw privacy to the wind and publish your cellphone number, office number, or other highly personal contact information. Some bloggers do this and are pleased with the results, commenting that they're surprised how few crank or junk calls they get as a result. I certainly wouldn't recommend that, personally, but I am happiest when my friends and family are the only people calling me anyway, so your experience might well vary.
Probably the most common solution is to publish your email address, which is what I believe you're asking me about here too. That's a good idea if indeed that's the kind of contact you seek. If you choose that route I would strongly suggest that you set up a new address just for blog-based communication, even if it's an alias that routes directly to your mailbox. This way if it does end up attracting too much spam, you can easily shut it off without affecting any of your existing correspondents. This is a great job for Google Mail, Yahoo Mail and the like!
If you do publish your email address, I would encourage you not to publish it as a clickable link with a mailto: href. It'd look something like this:
That's very bad because it's trivial for spammers to harvest this address and then start sending dozens, then hundreds, then thousands of junk messages, causing you to lose the legitimate correspondence in the junk.
Instead, a smart strategy is to use a graphics editor to create a GIF or JPEG image that is your email address, then give it a generic name and include it as an img src tag only. Your users will have to type in your address rather than having a one-click feature, but the tiny hassle will be more than offset by the fact that it'll work and will simultaneously foil those nasty spammer spiders.
Finally, one more thought: should you publish an address to go with your phone number and/or email address? If you're a legitimate business and have an ecommerce site, yes, that's a good move in my opinion. But if you are working out of your house, I strongly encourage you to use a business address, even if it's a maildrop, than having your home address plastered all over the networks. It only takes one crank customer who is disgruntled with your service or product to make everything a nightmare; it's not worth that risk.
Let us know what you choose to do here, and in a month or two, do come back and let us know how it's going and whether you are seeing any communication from your blog readers because of your new contact information!
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