Emails

Introduction #

SiteWorks has several features that allow emails to be sent by a site visitor to a member of the u3a (i.e. officers or group leaders) using a predefined contact form. This guide discusses the following:

Verification and Validation #

Verification #

When an email address is added to the u3a Contact page, limited verification is undertaken. This checks that the email address is correctly formatted, namely: Username@Domain.TLD, where:

  • Username – the individual’s identifier
  • Domain – the individual’s mail server (e.g. Gmail, Hotmail)
  • TLD – Top-level domain (e.g. com, ac, edu)

Only the structure is checked, the address is not confirmed to exist. If the structure is incorrect an error is flagged.

Validation #

Validation is not provided. However, it is recommended, that when a contact is added an email is sent, confirming that the recipient exists. Care must be taken to ensure that the email sent is not interpreted by the recipient’s email server as spam, to maintain the u3a’s email reputation.

Contact Form #

SiteWorks provides a u3a contact form for use by site visitors to contact an officer or group leader. The form is configured as the Contact Us page, which must not be deleted, though it can be customised with specific graphics, etc. The page must include the [u3a_contact_form] Shortcode, as shown, the edit mode view is shown below:

When a member of the public selects an email link, for example, to contact the chair, the contact form will appear:

It should be noted that to increase email security, the contact form is single-use. Once an email has been sent, a second email cannot be sent to the same person using the open form, this is a measure to prevent spamming. The form needs to be closed and reloaded.

It should be noted that when a user (with administrator, editor or author rights) is logged in a slightly different form appears:

The Send me a copy tick box is not available on the public page as a site visitor could use the form to send a malicious email to any email address.

Adding email provision to pages and posts #

In this section, it is assumed the information, unless otherwise stated, regarding individual contacts, including a valid email address, has been entered using the u3a Contacts page, as discussed here.

Contacting a group leader via a Group or Event page. #

When entering Group information you can add a leader or in the case of an event an organiser. These people MUST be in the contact list with a valid email address. When a group or event page is viewed, the named person will be shown in blue and can be contacted by clicking on the name.

Using a Shortcode #

In addition, SiteWorks allows content creators to embed a command directly in the text to access the email contact form by using a Shortcode, This approach will not reveal the recipient’s email address to the sender.

The general form of the Shortcode is: [u3a_contact name =”text to appear on page" email = “email address“]

If the general form is used, the email address does not have to be listed on the u3a Contacts page. If the person is already listed as a contact within the website, the email address can be omitted, the following two examples will give identical results:

Note that a separator block has been added, as the Shortcode block does not give a line feed.

If the following text is entered into a paragraph block:

Select [u3a_contact name =” this link” email = “aperson@test.com”] to contact the chair or use the following [u3a_contact name=”A. Person”].

The displayed page is:

In both cases, the contact form will appear, allowing an email to be sent to A. Person.

Note;

  • As shown in the above example the u3a_contact Name text, does not have to be a person’s name, but can be a text string, e.g., this link, click here, chair, etc as discussed here.
  • If the shortcode is incorrect, irrespective of whether it is the contact name, spacing, user of the double quotation marks, etc., the text entered will not convert to a contact form link, hence a Shortcode email entry needs to be carefully checked before the page is published.

Contact Page #

In many cases u3as will require a contact page where officers and other key people are listed, In Site Builder, a contact page was automatically constructed, this is not a SiteWorks feature, however, a Contact us page is provided as an example, which can be edited as required.

If required a u3a specific contact page, can easily be created, using email short code links. This will allow the page to be configured to the u3a’s requirements. For example, if the page is edited as follows:

The visitor to the page will see:

Maintaining Email Reputation #

Spam and phishing emails are a scourge and account for over 90% of emails.  Mail services try to automatically detect such emails and when they think they perceive a pattern they will block all emails from the sending server. Therefore any email that does not look like a genuine personal email stands a high chance of being put into a “junk” or similar folder, being bounced back to the sender or just silently deleted.

A large proportion of emails that have been sent during the testing and commissioning of a system can easily fall into the category of “not looking like a genuine personal email” and so damage the “reputation” of the sending server.  In addition, the system emails generated by WordPress about password changes or resets can look like phishing emails, further damaging the reputation of the sending server. To prevent this:

  • Avoid using the contact form mechanism to send messages with the word “test” in the title or very brief messages.  If you want to test out the contact form, please try and simulate a genuine enquiry using genuine names, email addresses and messages that contain several lines of genuine text.
  • When creating a new user, as discussed here,  remove the tick from the box to send the new user an email message about their account, This may be classed as a phishing email.  Instead, send the new user their username and password using your regular email account.
  • Discourage your users from using the ‘lost password’ mechanism on the login form.  Instead, if they have lost their password tell them to ask an administrator to issue a new password and send it to them by personal email.
  • If your users find emails are ending up in their “spam” or “junk” or similar folder, please ask them to move the emails to their inbox and add the sender address to their “safe senders” or similar list.
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Updated on 2024-02-11