ArtSites Updates

Last month we released a new feature that changed the way that an ArtSites Artist's website handles contact request and artwork inquiries.  We have had a number of questions about this feature, most notably, "Why did we have to change the way that these notifications were handled at all?"

First of all, I wish that we didn't have to make the change that we did but we were forced into this change.  The old system had problems that were making it harder for us to reach artists with contact requests or other updates.  Let me describe what was happening.

In the old system, when some filled in the contact form, we would send a notification to the artist that included the message provided by the visitor.  If that visitor provided an email address, we used an email trick that allowed our artist to "just reply" to the message for that reply to get to the visitor.  Unfortunately, this trick did not work with some email programs, Outlook the most common, and the email would come to us instead.  We would then have to tell the artist about the problem with their email program.  

All in all, this process worked quite well for most artists.  Unfortunately, there were increasing problems for us.  The email that we sent to the artist was officially from ArtSites.  When a visitor left a "spammy" message, we would catch it most of the time but occasionally they got through.  Often the artist would mark these email messages as spam as they would any other email message that contains spam.  There is a subtle but important problem with this.  When they mark the message as spam, what they really wanted to indicate was that the visitor providing information on their website was a spammer but email systems identified ArtSites as a spammer.  This would cause several problems.  For the artist, it would prevent new contact messages that came from ArtSites from getting through to them.  Their email programs would automatically put our messages in their spam folders.  Having our email marked as spam also made it harder for us to get email messages to others as well because marking an email message as spam reports the sender (ArtSites) as a spammer to many different email systems.  This is a great way to deal with real spam but in our case, it was working against our legitimate email.

So we had to find a way to stop ArtSites being identified as a spammer.  The easiest way would be too completely remove the contact form and just have an email address for people to contact our artists directly.  That way we would not be involved in the email process.  That would create a hurdle keeping visitors from contacting ArtSites artists and we really wanted to avoid that.  To make sure we maintained an easy way for a visitor to initiate contact

with the artist, we decided to store the messages on our system and only send out notices that a message existed.  That way the artist could go to their website and see the message before deciding if it involved spam.  If they wanted to mark it as spam, they could do so there.  It also gave us more opportunities to identify spammers and automatically mark them as spam. This process helps us fight spam and avoid being identified as a spammer.  Unfortunately, this is more of an effort to the artist which is unfortunate.  Also, our "Reply" mechanism is not ideal and doesn't work for all artist.  But at least the message does get to the artist and they can find a way to respond accordingly.

If you look carefully at our Contact Request notification message that we send you, there are instructions on how to find these messages.  Unfortunately, there is not a "Messages" tab in the administration but you can find this under your "Contact" tab.

Messaging is definitely a work-in-process.  We are going to be reorganizing the administration system soon and as a part of that Messages will be much easier to find and work with.

So if you have any feedback on the way that the new messaging system works, please let us know so we can incorporate that feedback into future updates.