Viral actions in Drupal: “share this” modules

“email this link” is probably the most effective viral feature of all times. There are multiple Drupal contributions aiming to deliver this functionality, and I have to pick one.

This is my review, for my needs, with the main goal of augmenting my memory (two months down the road when I ask myself why I made the choice, this is where I will turn to).

Your needs are different from mine.

It is helpful to start by figuring out what you want to achieve:

  • bring people to your site?
  • share some information?
  • inspire action?

The goal will impact your preferences.

Tellafriend

– is as basic as it gets, and can thus be easily tweaked to perform whatever custom task you see fit. This is not “send link to this page” module, this is “send a message, hopefully about our site” module.

What it does:

  • creates one ( 1 ) form. Your visitor fills up email addresses and message content and off it goes.
  • creates a block with a link to the form

I like:

  • flood control: you decide how many emails per hour a user can generate, and to how many addresses each of them may be sent
  • all fields(and SMTP server) have default values configurable by the administrator

Not so good:

  • no antispam mechanisms beside basic flood control
  • no HTML support
  • cannot “lock” a part of the message (so that user send a standard text plus her own)
  • no context –

However:

  • it is simple, and you should be able to tweak it to, say, send out petitions, or other pre-cooked messages.
  • A basic module for a basic task – a perfect tool for some straightforward needs.

EmailPage

– dead and abandoned. Use another module.

Nudge

– turns out to be almost exactly opposite of what I was looking for (module description is a bit confusing, but then it is a semantically challenging case case in most languages).

What it does:

  • puts “nudge” link under the contents of every node (as long as you have the right permissions and the node type is approve for nudging by the admin)
  • When you click, you get to fill up a message.
  • The nudge(but not the message) is registered by Drupal.
  • Author can view the nudges from a link under the post (very nice touch!)
  • Everyone can track nudges via their nudge list.

I do not like:

  • the whole “message” component seems unnecessary – there is already a comment system and an infrastructure for sending direct messages.
  • in fact the implementation of the messages associated with nudges seems rather raw – test it thoroughly when you deploy.

I like:

  • it’s like Facebook’s “poke”, but with context.

Also:

  • I hear there is a Poke module for Drupal (have not seen it, it’s beyond the scope of this post anyway).

Send

This module appears to be much closer to the ultimate “send this to a friend” tool. It even handles HTML smartly (the author separated that functionality into Mime Mail module).

I have not tried it, but the description claims that it can email a whole page from your site with all the images and CSS files included. Sweet!

However, at the moment of this writing, the author seems to be thoroughly distracted. If you take a look at the support queues you will notice issues gone un-answered for months. Looks like the module needs a new owner. Mime Mail is mostly user-supported, but at least the user community is holding together.

If you are competent enough to weather an occasional bug on your own, this module still might work for you – it has worked out for many others.

Forward

Yep, it’s a winner. Why is the item I need always at the bottom of the pile?

– it forwards a link to a node (and a teaser) to whatever email you choose.

  • configurable flood control and user permissions
  • configurable text on the “Forward ” page and in the email
  • “most forwarded” block (with options like “daily”, “weekly”, “monthly”, “ever”)
  • logging (rather basic so fa, but improving)
  • The generated email is in HTML and you can add a header image, ad text, etc, without any coding.

I like:

  • the module is in active development, There is already a 6.x version.
  • you can have just a “forward this” link, or a whole collapsible form inserted into the node
  • the generated email is highly customizable without any PHP shenanigans
  • there is a themeable email template – se the README file for details

I wish:

  • would be nice to email a whole page – this would help some service oriented sites with no advertising dependency (no desire to bring people to the site as often as possible)

Service Links

– not, strictly speaking, an “email this” module, but definitely a “tell people about this” feature.

What is does:

  • adds links to digg, reddit, yahoo, google, technorati and others so that visitors can easily submit your post

I like:

  • permissions
  • you can limit this feature to a content type an/or a set of taxonomy terms
  • you can insert the links as icons or text (or both) in teasers and in nodes, into the body or in the links section. – excellent!
  • you can add your own links (but since you would be adding into the modul, there is an incentive to submit them to the author for inclusion into the next version, and thus everybody benefits)
  • there is a Service Links block

I dislike… actually no complaints/wishes at all (yet). Strange…

Share

– not a solution in itself, just a nice helper for Service Links and Froward – if you think your age is too cluttered, Share will aggregate all service links (and the forward form) into one neat popup:Share - aggregates the social links ito a pop-up.

An Honorable Mention: Subscriptions

– more of a stickiness solution than true “viral”, but it can be argued that one who keeps coming back to see the comments to her post would also be very inclined to forward them to others. Subscriptions is actually a collection of modules with an API, a UI, and a couple of functional components (content and taxonomy). The official version is 5.x-1.9, but is is known to have bugs. The 5.x-2.0 is right now at Beta 4, in very active development, and has gone far beyond 1.9.

  • subscribe to content type
  • subscribe to content type by author
  • subscribe to a taxonomy term
  • subscribe to a taxonomy term
  • and much much more

The module is evolving rapidly and has not reached the maturity of the User Interface – the code is stable and does virtually anything you may want, but, given the complexity of the task, it will probably take some tweaking to get it to look exactly the way you like it. Check out the UI discussion here.

I am gonna use this module.

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