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White House e-mail communication

Today's New York Times had a (front page) article on a change in e-mailing to the President/White House; from a direct e-mail to an eight step process through as many web pages appearing to require "qualifying" and a forced choice of topics. Please critique and comment on this change and medium from your prespective as a communicator and a web-architect. Thank you, J. D. McCubbin

-- J.D. McCubbin (email)


For those from out of town, the URL is

Jakob Nielsen, quoted in the story, says it all.

The 8-screen entry tunnel certainly must filter out spam! And it reduces the workload of the White House summer interns screening all that email, who tabulate the cheers and track down the addresses of the crazies.

But why take seriously the premise of the White House public message system, either before or after redesign: How can anyone possibily deal with 15,000 emails a day?

[link updated February 2005]

-- ET

White House e-mail communication as of February, 2009

The White House e-mail system has been overhauled. Read on:

“President Obama is committed to creating the most open and accessible administration in American history. To send questions, comments, concerns, or well‑wishes to the President or his staff, please use the form below.”

Now, instead of forcing e‑mailers through the 8‑screen entry tunnel, one can choose from one of five categories (including ‘Other’) and fill in a modest number of other fields: first and last name, e‑mail address, zip code, and message.

This is certainly an improvement, as only one click separates the main page White House page from the ‘Submit&rsquo button; however, the question remains: what about those 15,000± e‑mail messages per day?

-- Jon Gross (email)

Regarding the high volume of e-mail sent to the White House, the President and his staff might want to apply a similar tool as the German Chancellor: Submissions get rated by a public forum and only a high-percentile set of questions are delt with directly, resulting in a relevant set of answers.

-- Andreas Scherer (email)

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