Often I am asked to create send to a friend forms for websites where a user can enter a few of their friends email addresses to which a URL is forwarded via email.

My question is now that we have so many like buttons for services such as Facebook and Twitter are these forms even necessary any more? Do people even still fill them in in your experience?

I ask as I generally tend to avoid creating them due to their propensity to get hammered by spammers attempting to re-purpose them for nefarious ends.

Also are there any tips to help mitigate the risk when using PHP? For example could tracking and rate limiting IP addresses be a good approach? Any other ideas in this direction? I am totally against any form of captcha and hate websites that use them.

Currently I am using a combination of PHPMailer and SwiftMailer across various projects for the actual sending of the mail.

  • 1
    They've been nasty threats of spammey address harvesting (i.e. I don't want my friends to tell ACME to spam me using ACME's "tell a friend" form) since the 90s.
    – Quentin
    Commented May 13, 2011 at 11:01
  • @DavidDorward I am posing the question more from a programmers point of view and not from a end user point of view, but yes I agree and never use them myself on websites.
    – Treffynnon
    Commented May 13, 2011 at 11:03

1 Answer 1


It really depends on the needs you have, target group specially. Not everbody has Twitter or Facebook as a Medium, good old Email works fine and is not like overspamed, like Facebook and Twitter. Son in certain cases it makes absolutely sense!

We still implement it all the time, except for hippie flippie social sites / for youth specially.

To be Honest, who takes it 100% serious, what comes over Twitter and Facebook? There is sooo much offtopic and its completely unpersonal.

When you recommend something directly, it is marked "important", at least its y o u r favorite.

And for spamming, search for honeypot or captcha implementations, they are easy to implement, there are several solutions for mailforms, that ensure, that a human is filling in the form.

This helps?

  • Should have mentioned in my question (now updated) that I avoid captcha as much as possible.
    – Treffynnon
    Commented May 13, 2011 at 11:07

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