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Spam protection basics

Protect your email address on the web

If you can't create a contact form and decide to publish your email address on a web page (forum, guest book, your own web site, etc.), there are certain ways to make sure that your address isn't picked up by spambots (short for spam robots). Spambots are nefarious automatic programs that browse web pages looking for email addresses to pick up and add to a spam mailing list. The following methods all have a different degree of security. The least secure method can fool the very basic, but most common, spambot softwares, but could be recognized by somewhat more sophisticated spambots. They are also the easiest to implement and user friendly to your users. We do recommend, however, that you select the most secure ones.

Encrypt your adress with ASCII code

Security: weak

You can encrypt the HTML information in ASCII mode, which shouldn't be a problem with most users. However, the protection is relatively weak. Here's how you do it. In the HTML code of your page, replace the @ symbol with @ and the dot with . like in the following code: yourname@yourdomain.com. To be even more efficient, you can encrypt your whole email address with that method using the following table of conversion. Find the number in the DEC column and add &# before and ; after. Here's an address encoder that will do it automatically for you.

Use Javascript to encode your email address

Security: average

Most spambots do not interpret Javascript (although some very advanced ones do, so it is not full proof) so you can use a function that will write your contact email on a web page, yet automatic programs won't be able to see it. It does require that your users support Javascript, but this isn't really an issue nowadays as 99% of them do. For those that do, it will be very user friendly (looks the same as a normal mailto link), but it may be difficult if you don't know Javascript is. If you do, just insert this code in your HTML page and replace the example with your real email:

<script language="JavaScript" type="text/javascript">
<!--
document.write("<a href='mailto:yourname@yourdomain.com'>Contact</a>");
// -->
</script>

If you feel clever, you can even add the encrypted email address with ASCII code instead of your real one just to beef the security up a notch. Some people will even separate each part of the email address in different variables and assemble it at the end so spambots don't detect it inside the javascript code. Example:

<script language="JavaScript" type="text/javascript">
<!--
var name = "yourname";
var domain = "yourdomain.com";
var word = "Contact";
document.write("<a href='mailto:" + name + "@" + domain + "'>" + word + "</a>");
// -->
</script>

Here's the result:

Obfuscate your email address

Security: average

Another way, easier for you, but less user friendly for those who want to contact you, is to obfuscate your address to spambots yet make it understandable to a person. One problem with this system is you can't make it clickable by a mailto link, otherwise it renders the method worthless. It is very popular when people need to exchange emails in a forum, Usenet or a guestbook, for example, a situation where they don't have control over the web page. You can munge it like this:

yourname [at] yourdomain [dot] com

The person just need to reconstruct your real email manually, replacing [at] by the the real @ symbol, and [dot] with a regular dot. You can find other creative ways of doing this, but in any case, it helps if you leave a few instructions.

yourname@[no spam]yourdomain.[remove this]com
or
yourname(STAIN)@yourdomain.com

And then explain they need to remove the stain from your address. You can probably push this even further, but that would defeat the purpose of making it easy for others to contact you. Unfortunatly, as much as those email addresses look unusable, it is not unheard of that some unscrupulous spammers have hired people to clean them up manually.

Use an graphical image

Security: excellent

This is possibly my favorite, outside of using a contact form, because it is the most secure. Simply write your email address in the text of your page as you would normally do, then take a screen shot of the result, go to your favorite graphic editor, crop the image to leave just your email address and save it as an image. Then insert that image in your text. Users won't be able to click on it, or even select the text, but if they really need to contact you, they just need to rewrite what they see in their email application. A little trick so that the email image fits with the flow of the text, if it's inside a paragraph: use the attribute align="middle" in the image code. Here's an example. Notice how you cannot select the text:

Contact me

Note: don't add your real email address in the alt attribute of your image or spambots may be able to pick it up!

You can use the web site email2image.com to easily convert your email to an image or javascript if you don't want to do it by yourself.

 
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