“Feedback forms” considered harmful

The following form is intentionally broken: it has many of the typical mistakes in feedback forms. If you wish to send real feedback, please send E-mail to jkorpela@cs.tut.fi.

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Using a form as the only way of sending feedback via the Internet is one of the most common design mistakes on Web pages. It has become increasingly popular, since people fear that spammers use E-mail addresses from Web pages—as they actually do. Whatever you do, you’re going to need some tools or methods for dealing with spam, if you are on the Internet. Given that, does it really make sense to try to force people to inconveniences in order to contact you?

The following is an incomplete list of reasons why feedback forms are unavoidably far less useful than many authors think:

The following list contains common errors that make feedback forms even more inconvenient:

Consider yourself as a potential customer of a company that has a form as the only way to contact it via the Internet, The company thereby says, by its actions, that your convenience is of little importance to it. If they verbally claim the opposite, you believe in what they do, not what they say.

This being said, I need to add that when used in addition to giving a normal contact address, a feedback form is useful. In particular, it lets the user send you feedback even if he is using a computer where he cannot use E-mail, e.g. a computer in public library or at an airport. But make sure you avoid the design flaws listed above.