Do you own a blog, maintain a website, participate in a forum, or are your contact details listed on your company’s website? If so, your email address probably appears in several different places on the web, ripe for the picking.
One way spammers generate email lists is to harvest email addresses off of websites. Far too often, we make it easy for them by simply rendering our email address in ASCII text, or in an easy to use link format. We are trying to make it easy for our readers to contact us, but we’re making it easy for spammers to find us too.
Whether your email address appears on your website, is listed on a contact list posted online, or is part of your identity on forums or social networking sites, if it appears as text that a bot or spider can read, it is going to make it onto a list… probably several, in fact. In this post, we will show you how to present your email address five different ways, so that humans you want to hear from can easily contact you, but spammers will be left out in the cold.
1. Simple substitution
This old school trick is better suited for forums as opposed to rendering an email address anyone can use, as it will not be clickable, and the human will have to figure out what to remove/change in order to send you an email. Spell out the punctuation, or add components that a user will realize need to be deleted to render your actual email address. Here are two ways you could do this – userATexampleDOTcom or user@REMOVEexample.com.
2. Metacharacter substitution
This improvement on substitution replaces the @ and the . with their HTML codes, @ and .. In a browser, a human won’t know the difference and the link will be clickable, but spiders crawling your site are often simple enough to be fooled by this trick. Here’s what it should look like
3. Encode an href using HTML codes
Using the free email encoder at Web Designz you can convert your ASCII email address into HTML codes. An email firstname.lastname@example.org with a text display “email me” becomes a string of HTML characters. When input into the html of a page, it’s clickable and renders in a browser just fine.
5. Contact Forms
If you are running a site of your own, or if one user of a multiuser site doesn’t mind playing postmaster, use a contact form and let your server send the email on behalf of the visitor. When combined with Akismet, this provides a very effective guard against spam, while still enabling visitors to get in touch with you. This is one of the best ways, as there is no way for anyone to derive your email address from the form, makes it easy for users to contact you, and can be used in conjunction with captchas and Akismet for even more protection.
So with these five different ways to obscure your email address, you have several choices for how to protect your inbox from spam, while still being reachable by your readers.
Which do you prefer, or what other methods do you use to hide your email address while still being available to your readers?