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I'm helping a friend set up a "Coming Soon" page for his website. Naturally, he wants people to enter their email addresses so they can get updates about the status of the website. I know I can set up a database for him but he's not very tech savy and won't want to learn how to check that database.

So one solution I'm thinking of doing is setting up a webpage at friendsurl.com/pEbRuw3A (or some other random string so that bots can't easily find the page) and having the emails there in a csv format. That way he can continuously check it for updates.

So, is this a stupid idea?

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Don't make personal information available for everyone to see. A random (or magic) string is not a good protection measure. –  ZippyV Feb 2 '13 at 13:41

2 Answers 2

I would set up a contact form that will send an email each time somebody is interested. Unless you think you will get 10s of these a day, that shouldn't be a horrible solution. My guess is you'll be lucky to get 1 a day.

I wrote a contact form that you can use for such a purpose: http://ostermiller.org/contactform/ I would configure such that preview and captcha are disabled. I would create a form that asks for the email address and has a pre-canned subject and email body in hidden fields. When the interested person submits from the website, your friend gets an email from them saying "I'm interested in hearing when your website is up".

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That is exactly what I originally told my friend I would do. I also agree that it is probably the best solution, but he is very worried that he's going to be flooded with emails. That's why I decided on the random-string url idea. But thank you for the contact form! –  Devin Feb 1 '13 at 17:00
    
You could always set up a new email account for him to check and send them there. –  Stephen Ostermiller Feb 1 '13 at 17:10
    
If he is serious about his project then he should be able to create a dedicated email account for this that can collect the emails. If he is using outlook add the address, create a rule, or make a simple macro that will create a database locally if he is that worried about getting emails. +1 @Stephen –  Matt Apr 2 '13 at 22:54

Honestly, unless there is an incentive (10% off for registered customers, learn how we solved world-hunger, etc) for people to sign up with something yet unknown, it seems like a waste of time.

Now if the site is going to have a mailing list anyway for a good reason when it will be up and running, might as well write that part of the software first and make the Coming Soon page its UI. In that case you are not doing much extra work.

The solution you propose is called security through obscurity and is never a good idea. At the very least you can have the sign up form add a line to a private text file on the websever. This is trivial to do in PHP and I assume the same of other systems. No databases need to be involved here!

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