General Question

metadog's avatar

Are there alternatives to multi-line comment boxes in a contact form?

Asked by metadog (378points) January 26th, 2012

Hi! My company wants to do away with the multi-line comment box on our “contact us” web page. The concern is that people have been putting in uniquely identifiable data which, if accessed from the outside, would be a huge security issue. We have put text on the page asking people not to put in personal data, but as long as that text box sits there… Alternatively, if we don’t have that text box, how will we know what they want to ask us?

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4 Answers

MrItty's avatar

Wow is that the wrong way to go about solving your problem. The correct answer is not to restrict what a user wants to tell you, but to ensure that your site is secure. If you don’t already have an SSL certificate, install one. If you aren’t using HTTPS, start using it. If you aren’t encrypting the transmission of data, do so.

metadog's avatar

I totally agree with you. This is a knee jerk reaction to an issue we had. I am stuck in the middle trying to provide an alternative that calms the lawyers down while keeping our users happy.

MrItty's avatar

The only other option would be something like a set of radio buttons:
Please select the option that most closely defines your problem:
* I can’t get the widget to flitzer
* The widget flizers, but doesn’t havisham
* I never got the widget
* The widget is the wrong size
* The widget is the wrong color
* I just don’t like the widget, and want to return it

Of course, the obvious problem here is that you have to anticipate every problem the user might have, and should probably include something like “If none of these problems match your issue, please call us at 1–800-555–1212…”

ETpro's avatar

!‘m with @MrItty‘s first answer, which is seconded by @metadog. It’s your CGI script processing the form. Solve it server side, don’t try to shove the solution onto individual users. Pass the form input to its destination by HTTPS or secure email.

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