Asking twice for email address in a form

8 Feb 2005 - 9:29am
9 years ago
5 replies
3289 reads
Welie, Martijn van
2005

Hi,

Me and my collegues have a discussion about how to minimize the problem that
people are (apparently) not able to type in their own email address
correctly. In the application we developed for a customer this turns out to
be quite an issue.

One of the possible remedies could be to ask people to type in their email
address twice, just as it is often done with passwords.

However, we wonder how effective this will actually be. This trick will not
help if people 'copy-paste' their email adress. Or worse, they might type it
wrong two times.

Another approach might be to introduce an extra confirmation screen where
the email address is displayed. Some may recognize that their email is
spelled wrong...but some may also be blind for it...

Has anybody got any experience/data on the effectiveness of asking for the
email twice?
Is it worth the extra irritation?

Best regards,

Martijn van Welie

Comments

8 Feb 2005 - 10:06am
Schlatzer, Kurt
2004

Welie, Martijn van wrote:
> Has anybody got any experience/data on the effectiveness of asking
> for the email twice?
> Is it worth the extra irritation?

>From my personal observations, I find that requesting the email
address twice works well for less web-savvy users, who are more
cautious while filling out forms. And for those "power users" who
would choose to cut-and-paste, it slows them down just enough to be
fairly effective. You can only do so much.

Other ideas:
1. Visually segregating or emphasizing the email input field to give
it more importance in the context of the form.

2. If the user's email is critical data, you could email them a
confirmation message on the submission of the form. The emails that
bounce would then trigger a follow-up call to correct that
information.

Kurt

8 Feb 2005 - 10:04am
DeleteMe
2005

On Tuesday 08 February 2005 10:29 am, Welie, Martijn van wrote:
> One of the possible remedies could be to ask people to type in their email
> address twice, just as it is often done with passwords.

I really personally hate sites that do this, because....

> However, we wonder how effective this will actually be. This trick will not
> help if people 'copy-paste' their email adress.

.. this is what everyone ends up doing. The check is in reality useless for
this reason.

If you want to ensure that the email address is accurate, split the form up
into two steps. First, ask the user to enter their email address. You then
instruct the user that you will be sending an email to that address with a
link to the remainder of the form / a confirmation link. On this same screen
you advise them that if they do not receive the email within 15 minutes, they
should double-check their email address.

This also has the added benefit of stopping most form-bots.

It makes the process a bit more tedious for the user, yes. But if you really
want to make the email address mandatory and foolproof, this is pretty much
the only way to do it.

--
If you wait by the river long enough, eventually
you will see the bodies of all your enemies float by.
- Sun Tzu

8 Feb 2005 - 10:15am
Dan Zlotnikov
2004

As one person who always simply pastes in the email in the second
field, I find the method to be both ineffective and insulting. No one
likes the suggestion that they can't type properly.

I've never seen anyone do this, but what about non-identical forms?
All I've seen used are two blank text boxes. How about some variation
on the following?

First box asks for the entire email. The verification part is composed
of two text boxes, one asking for the username, the other for the
domain. This is unusual, and would force the user to think for a
moment. then you can filter for the silly gits who will try and paste
their entire email in the verification boxes.

Dan

On Tue, 8 Feb 2005 11:04:21 -0400, Jason Keirstead <jason at keirstead.org> wrote:
> [Please voluntarily trim replies to include only relevant quoted material.]
>
> On Tuesday 08 February 2005 10:29 am, Welie, Martijn van wrote:
> > One of the possible remedies could be to ask people to type in their email
> > address twice, just as it is often done with passwords.
>
> I really personally hate sites that do this, because....
>
> > However, we wonder how effective this will actually be. This trick will not
> > help if people 'copy-paste' their email adress.
>
> .. this is what everyone ends up doing. The check is in reality useless for
> this reason.
>
> If you want to ensure that the email address is accurate, split the form up
> into two steps. First, ask the user to enter their email address. You then
> instruct the user that you will be sending an email to that address with a
> link to the remainder of the form / a confirmation link. On this same screen
> you advise them that if they do not receive the email within 15 minutes, they
> should double-check their email address.
>
> This also has the added benefit of stopping most form-bots.
>
> It makes the process a bit more tedious for the user, yes. But if you really
> want to make the email address mandatory and foolproof, this is pretty much
> the only way to do it.
>
> --
> If you wait by the river long enough, eventually
> you will see the bodies of all your enemies float by.
> - Sun Tzu
> _______________________________________________
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8 Feb 2005 - 10:25am
Schlatzer, Kurt
2004

Jason Keirstead wrote:
> If you want to ensure that the email address is accurate, split the
> form up into two steps. First, ask the user to enter their email
> address. You then instruct the user that you will be sending an
email
> to that address with a link to the remainder of the form / a
> confirmation link. On this same screen you advise them that if they
> do not receive the email within 15 minutes, they should double-check
> their email address.

I would not recommend this solution if you are dealing with ecommerce
transactions, like the shopping cart/check-out model. Your abandoned
cart rate would increase dramatically. You would also have to be
concerned with maintaining the state of the cart data long enough for
the user to confirm their email address is correct.

If your site required registration prior to allowing the user to add
items to a cart, then it would be an effective way to ensure the
user's email address would be correct.

Kurt

8 Feb 2005 - 1:44pm
Peter Bagnall
2003

On 8 Feb 2005, at 14:29, Welie, Martijn van wrote:
> One of the possible remedies could be to ask people to type in their
> email
> address twice, just as it is often done with passwords.

Once upon a time you could make an SMTP request on the appropriate
mail-server and it would confirm if a given address existed. Most mail
servers are configured not to allow this any more to avoid making life
easy for spammers.

However, you can still do a DNS MX lookup on the domain name, which
will at least tell you if the domain exists and accepts mail. So if
someone mistyped that part you could find that out. So in the case of a
typo in the domain name you could tell the user about it very quickly.
Clearly it doesn't cover all possible errors but it could be worth
doing. You'd still need another mechanism to deal with the other cases
though.

Cheers
--Pete

----------------------------------------------------------
Manners are a sensitive awareness of the feelings of others.
If you have that awareness, you have good manners, no matter
what fork you use.
- Emily Post

Peter Bagnall - http://people.surfaceeffect.com/pete/

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