Stop Email Spam, Tip #234

Okay, I don’t really have 234 tips about stopping email spam, but here’s one that should help:

Stop posting your email address visibly on the internet. Spammers run bots (computer programs) that run around the internet looking for email addresses. When they find one, they add it to their database. Eventually it gets sold to lots of other spammers and you are flooded with spam.

Most people attempt to get around this by obfuscating their email address by typing it like this:

email at domain dot com

But this is just as ridiculous as typing email@domain.com. In fact, if you’re going to try to thwart the spammers by typing spaces, “at,” and “dot,” you’re only making harder for the real people you want to email you. Might as well type out the whole thing.

Why? Regular Expressions. What are regular expressions? To put it simply, they’re magical. For more in depth (and real) info check out the wikipedia article on regular expressions.

This is an extremely simple regular expression, but it matches both “email@domain.com” and “email at domain dot com”:

(.*) ?(@|at) ?(.*) ?(.|dot) ?(.*)

You can pretty much guarantee that spammers have got much more sophisticated regular expressions than this simple one. Basically, if any popular email-obfuscating pattern exists out there, they know about it and are looking for it.

Stop posting your email address online, obfuscated or otherwise! Keep it hidden, keep it away from spammers.

P.S. Thankfully, nearly all blogging platforms (including wordpress, which I use) keep user’s email addresses confidential so they can’t get picked up by spammers.

Spam, Email, Tips

Comments

  1. justin hileman i use a contact form on my site (which actually sends me an email). if i need someone to email of me, i link ‘em to that form… run the form through Akismet, and magic! no spam email!
  2. Ryan Brilliant!