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Anon email: howto?

Discussion in 'Site & Server Administration' started by Liminal, Aug 16, 2005.

  1. #1
    Hey all,

    Not sure how many of you used craigslist.org (excellent site!). Anyway, they have this cool feature which lets you associate your email address with a anonymous one to keep it private. Example can be found on this page newyork.craigslist.org/lgi/eng/91415045.html . The anon one forwards to the real one and exists until the posting expires.

    I assume this has to do with some smart db+email server setup. So every time the email gets recieved to the anon email it gets looked up in the db for the real email address and routed to the latter. Can anyone shed some light on it?

    Best,
    James
    SEMrush
     
    Liminal, Aug 16, 2005 IP
    SEMrush
  2. Liminal

    Liminal Peon

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    #2
    So I take no one knows the steps to accomplish the above?
     
    Liminal, Aug 28, 2005 IP
  3. sarahk

    sarahk iTamer Staff

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    #3
    That's basically the concept behind sneakemail too but I've never put it into practice.
     
    sarahk, Aug 28, 2005 IP
  4. Liminal

    Liminal Peon

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    #4
    hey sarahk

    Thanks for the input. Do you know any sites that use sneakemail? Curious to see how the front-end is handled.
     
    Liminal, Aug 29, 2005 IP
  5. sarahk

    sarahk iTamer Staff

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    #5
    No, I don't know any sites that USE it
     
    sarahk, Aug 29, 2005 IP
  6. Willy

    Willy Peon

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    #6
    Just to clarify, Sneakemail isn't a software you can install on a site, it's a service you can personally sign up for: http://www.sneakemail.com/

    Pretty easy to use and works as advertised. Another equally easy method is to grab a Gmail account (need an invite? got loads...) and set it up to forward to your real e-mail box. This will give you the benefit of Gmail's pretty good spam filtering; in comparison, AFAIK, Sneakemail doesn't do spam filtering, they just forward all e-mails.

    Again, if you are talking of needing something like this for your site's users to sign up for, creating a forwarding service like Sneakemail is fairly trivial from a tech viewpoint. I just set up one where each user has their own Blogger-style blog, username.example.com, and an e-mail address that forwards incoming e-mail addressed to onwards to the real e-mail address that they signed up with. That doesn't give bidirectional anonymity, though (as that wasn't needed for this blog service); it's a bit more complicated and resource intensive to do it both ways, like Sneakemail, meaning that when a user replies to an e-mail, it is again routed through the "proxy" server and the real sender's address replaced with the Sneakemail address.
     
    Willy, Aug 29, 2005 IP
  7. Liminal

    Liminal Peon

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    #7
    Willy

    Thanks for loads of good info. Actually, what I'd like to do is:

    Someone is posting a classified ad and there are 2 contact options that can specify: a) their real email address or b) anonymous one. When they choose option b) next screen will contain: all replies to your posting will be forwarded to (an email address generated on the fly and used as a proxy for the real email address)
     
    Liminal, Aug 29, 2005 IP
  8. Willy

    Willy Peon

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    #8
    OK, thanks for the clarification... The standard way to do what you want is to provide a contact form ("Contact the Seller of This Item") on the same page with the classified ad. Then on the server end, you just e-mail the submitted question directly to the seller. Everyone gets what they want: the seller has anonymity, the potential buyer gets to contact the seller (and in an even easier fashion than having to fire up the e-mail client).

    Setting up a per-advertiser contact form like described above is loads easier than setting up mail forwarding... For the former, only some PHP is required, for the latter, you'll need to appropriately configure your SMTP server and programmatically create/destroy e-mail aliases (could be hard to do on shared hosting).

    As an added benefit of the contact form model, you are in control of the questions the seller will receive, meaning you could charge for the classified ad service on a per-contact basis if you wanted to. Plus, it'll give you an easy way to measure statistics on how many ads actually get contacts etc.
     
    Willy, Aug 29, 2005 IP
    Liminal likes this.