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Under a question or answer there is button "share" to share permanent link via Google+, Facebook and Twitter. But why I can't share via simple e-mail?

E-mail is very old and common for internet communication. Everyone has e-mail (and this is not true for G+, Facebook and other social networks). But there is no way to share link by e-mail to yourself or other people: I have to copy link and share it manually via my e-mail client...

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    $\begingroup$ "I have to copy link and share it manually via my e-mail client." Life is so difficult. $\endgroup$ – Gerry Myerson Jun 13 '14 at 7:29
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    $\begingroup$ "Telephone is very old and common for communication. Everyone has a phone. But there is no way to share link by telephone to yourself or other people: I have to call the person up and read the link myself." Now get off my lawn. :-) $\endgroup$ – Willie Wong Jun 13 '14 at 7:55
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    $\begingroup$ - . .-.. . --. .-. .- .--. .... ... / ... .- -.-- / .... . .-.. .-.. ---, @WillieWong $\endgroup$ – user61527 Jun 13 '14 at 7:57
  • $\begingroup$ So we're ok with sharing via facebook, but not email? $\endgroup$ – Spencer Jun 13 '14 at 8:59
  • $\begingroup$ @WillieWong: do you want to say that e-mail is obsolete? Ok, do you have an email? How often you use it per month? $\endgroup$ – Canis Lupus Jun 13 '14 at 9:04
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    $\begingroup$ @Corvus: I never said that telephones are obsolete. I just think your request is ridiculous. $\endgroup$ – Willie Wong Jun 13 '14 at 9:06
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    $\begingroup$ @WillieWong: Why ridiculous? For example, I have a friend and want to send him a link. Moreover, I often email yourself, e.g. "read it later". There are more that 1 social networks, my friends use different ones. But email is de-facto standard way to internet communication, everybody have it. I guess that total flow of emails is more bigger that total flows of all social networks. (but maybe not.) $\endgroup$ – Canis Lupus Jun 13 '14 at 9:08
  • $\begingroup$ @Spencer: FWIW, I share links to MSE regularly via both Google+ and e-mail. And in every single instance I right click on the share button, copy the link, and paste it into my preferred sharing method. $\endgroup$ – Willie Wong Jun 13 '14 at 9:08
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    $\begingroup$ @WillieWong, Honestly I've never even used the share button so I've got no vested interest in this. I was just surprised at the immediate harsh criticism of the question. You make some good points in your answer. $\endgroup$ – Spencer Jun 13 '14 at 9:22
  • $\begingroup$ @Corvus: I do not find the wish to share things by e-mail ridiculous. I find your specific request, especially the part where it essentially asks SE to build an e-mail client into their user interface, to be ridiculous. (The first comment of mine is supposed to read, under the sarcasm, "What's next? Do you also want SE to make phone calls for you too?".) $\endgroup$ – Willie Wong Jun 13 '14 at 9:35
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    $\begingroup$ Based on user1729's comment below, I threw the question upstream. If you are happy with the described behaviour (that is, instead of a full-fledged e-mailing interface such as those available on, say, YouTube, this would simply launch your pre-configured e-mail client), then maybe this will suit your needs. $\endgroup$ – Willie Wong Jun 13 '14 at 11:14
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I can tell you why there may be some reluctance to do this. Basically it boils down to technology.

Why is it that Google+, Facebook, and Twitter are supported? It is because those three platforms (among others, I suppose), offer simple APIs that allows these kinds of things. When you click the share button through Google+, Facebook, or Twitter, it redirects you to a form supplied by one of those three services, which

  1. Checks if you are logged in: if you are, it proceeds, if not, it asks for a password.
  2. Now that you are in G+/FB/T's service, they take the information passed to them by StackExchange and form it into the rudimentary form of a post, waiting for you to fill in more details.
  3. You click send, or post, or share, or whatever, and it posts.

Note: nowhere in this process is StackExchange doing anything on your behalf. It tells G+/FB/T: some dude wants to share this link using your platform, you deal with it. And G+/FB/T says: cool, let me talk to him.

This is exactly not how e-mails work.

Remember there is no universal e-mail service provider. And neither is there a universal mail client. There just simply isn't a way of reliably using "some API" in the same way that G+/FB/T supports. Sure, on certain tightly controlled platforms you maybe able to do so (say Android or iOS), but this requires going through an operating-system interface to call up the default mailer etc., which on general purpose computers just don't exist.

So you are reduced to the same way News sites such as CNN.com lets you e-mail articles: you have to implement a service which asks the user to enter recipient address and sender address, and deliver the mail for the user.

Couple this to a near-anonymous discussion forum (this part is where it differs somewhat from the news sites, where they control the content of what you are trying to e-mail!) where users are allowed to enter their own content to be posted, I can just imagine the alarm bells about potential user/spammer abuse going off.

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  • $\begingroup$ The cynical me wants to add: another reason for enabling easy sharing to social networks is that it significantly raises the visibility of the website. Compare to that, private e-mails is rather low on the totem pole for creating "impact". Were I a web developer and told to support one but not the other, I know which I would pick. $\endgroup$ – Willie Wong Jun 13 '14 at 9:31
  • $\begingroup$ When I click on an e-mail address outlook or mail or thunderbird or whatever opens a new e-mail with that address as the address. Is there not a way of doing the same thing but with the content filled in rather than the address? $\endgroup$ – user1729 Jun 13 '14 at 10:52
  • $\begingroup$ @user1729: That is the HTML mailto link. It requires the user setting up a mail application that is called from the web browser. If one is happy with a solution that works some of the time (for example, won't work on my computer) then sure (yes, the e-mail address can be omitted). $\endgroup$ – Willie Wong Jun 13 '14 at 10:57
  • $\begingroup$ @user1729PhD: on further thought, that seems to be a reasonable implementation. I will prod around on meta.SE about this. $\endgroup$ – Willie Wong Jun 13 '14 at 10:59
  • $\begingroup$ @user1729PhD: in fact, this functionality is already available for unanswered questions, it seems. $\endgroup$ – Willie Wong Jun 13 '14 at 11:01

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