New “Write Us” Page

We’ve constructed a simple new WordPress page to take over sitewide “Write Us” functionality. This single dedicated page supports all 12 Summitlake departments, whether WordPress or “PhP” driven, and over 500 additional legacy HTML pages. The switchover took place this evening.

HISTORY: The old “Write Us” was a commercial-grade combination of cgi (Perl) and HTML forms. It was a spin-off from a two-person team effort to develop a website for a ski lodge. The owner decided to keep the website and let prospective customers telephone rather than use the advanced “forms” reservation system we developed. My part in this was over 1,000 free coding hours. I adapted it to “Write Us”, salvaging something from the project. Adding a security code to block spambots was its un-doing: impossible to get it working for all browsers, I got more letters of complaint about erratic “security” than I received on all other subjects.

NEW: the new form uses a simple WordPress plug-in for security, in an off-the-shelf WordPress comment form. You can use or preview it by clicking any Write Us button or link on this site. The free software plug-in is SimpleCAPTCHA by Law Eng Soon (zorex), Copyright 2008. (You can also see the form at the bottom of any post page, including this one.)

Users quickly realize they’re no longer sending a note directly to me: in submitting a comment, it goes to a moderation queue. If I approve it, it becomes publicly visible, and may also spool to an RSS feed. I would be happy if WordPress would add a “public/private” checkbox to the submission form. For the time being, the “Write Us” page advises users to include the phrase PRIVATE or DO NOT POST in the comment, and in that case, as moderator, I will not do so.

Registered users do not have to use the CAPTCHA security (the same system used by most of your financial institutions) , but comments should still go into moderation. I will respond via regular email to notes inviting a response that also include a working email address.

To register, or to submit a comment if you are not logged in, requires that you type in your email address. That information is private and WordPress does NOT publish it.

We do not get the volume of mail we used to get with our articles on the “Ford Bronco TFI Ignition” scandal, so this solution should work for “Write Us” until we find a low-maintenance anti-spam security e-mail solution.

Cheers,

Alex

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