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Prevent harvesting of your email address from your web site
Thread poster: Oliver Walter

Oliver Walter  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 12:47
Member (2005)
German to English
+ ...
Dec 17, 2009

Some of you are aware that if your website contains your email address, it may be "harvested" by software "robots" and put into lists distributed to spammers (senders of unwanted, sometimes fraudulent, commercial email).
There is a way to avoid this but still enable visitors to your website to send you an email: this has existed for a few years and it's still there today (yes, I have used it myself):
http://vzone.virgin.net/phil.ronan/scramble.html
To use this scrambler to generate some Javascript, you type into two fields: your name and your email address.
Example: Your name = King Kong
email address = kingkong@nodomain.com

The result of using this is some code in Javascript that needs to be inserted into the HTML code of the web page (select the code press Ctrl+C; go to your text editor, to the point where to insert the code, and press Ctrl+V). When the code is executed in the course of displaying the web page that contains it, it creates a link and when it is clicked, a message box with OK and CANCEL buttons pops up (saying "Send an email to King Kong?" and showing the email address). When the visitor clicks the OK button, the "mailto:" html command is executed, but neither the word "mailto" nor the email address is visible in the Javascript. This means that a visitor to your website can only use this to send you an email if the visitor's browser has javascript enabled (note: Javascript is not Java - you can enable one and disable the other, in FireFox at least).

The Javascript code consists of 2 script sections (each begins with a SCRIPT tag and ends with /SCRIPT. Between the 2 sections is a version of the email address: in this example it would be
kingkong [at] nodomain [dot] com. I suggest replacing this with, for example, "click here" and precede the Javascript with "To send me an email ". The web page will then look like:
To send me an email click here (with "click here" displayed as the text of a link, i.e. usually blue and underlined).
The procedure I described above may not be the way to insert this into the code of a website if you are using an HTML editor to create the page, but it's probably not difficult. At present, when I write html for a website, I edit it "by hand" with a simple text editor so I have full control and knowledge of the whole contents.

Of course, this won't do any good for email addresses that are already in the spammers' lists. All you can do then is NEVER click on any link in a spam email, not even if it offers to remove you from a mailing list - that simply confirms that your email address is valid.

I hope this is useful to somebody!

Oliver


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Tim Drayton  Identity Verified
Cyprus
Local time: 14:47
Turkish to English
+ ...
Price worth paying Dec 18, 2009

There is also the low-tech solution of displaying "kingkong at nodomain.com" on the site thus requiring people to physically type in the correct address. I continue to provide a clickable e-mail link on my website. I consider the 200-odd spam messages that I receive on a daily basis to be a price worth paying for the occasional serious inquiry that is engendered.

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Oliver Walter  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 12:47
Member (2005)
German to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
So we can choose Dec 18, 2009

Tim Drayton wrote:
There is also the low-tech solution of displaying "kingkong at nodomain.com" on the site thus requiring people to physically type in the correct address. I continue to provide a clickable e-mail link on my website. I consider the 200-odd spam messages that I receive on a daily basis to be a price worth paying for the occasional serious inquiry that is engendered.

Yes, I've considered that kind of solution also. I am slightly concerned that the writers of these address harvesters may teach them how to recognise the disguises like [at] and [dot], which will then make the disguises useless.
At least, people can choose between your approach which, as you say, is "low-tech" but easy to implement, and the scrambler approach using Javascript which is a little more complicated for the web site writer but a little easier for the web site visitor (less to type).
I used to receive about 150 spams per day and now receive about 10. This is partly because I changed my ISP, thereby invalidating one of the email addresses to which the spams were sent.
Luckily, spams are easy to recognise and no worse than a slight nuisance (at least, for the alert and skeptical user). Examples: any email from a Sender containing "viagra" or "casino" or mentioning a lottery that I haven't entered, or with a subject offering me a degree, or from a bank (that calls me "customer" and doesn't know my name) talking about suspending an account is, to me, an obvious "spam" or "phish".

Oliver


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Susan Welsh  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 07:47
Member (2008)
Russian to English
+ ...
Thanks, Oliver Dec 18, 2009

Good to know. I hope I'll get around to doing it!

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Daniel Bird  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 12:47
German to English
Another method Dec 19, 2009

A colleague of mine converts the text of his address into an uneditable graphic format and embeds the graphic; because it isn't a piece of text the robots can't recognise it as an address. Neat dodge.

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Pablo Bouvier  Identity Verified
Local time: 13:47
German to Spanish
+ ...
Prevent harvesting of your email address from your web site Dec 19, 2009

Oliver Walter wrote:

Some of you are aware that if your website contains your email address, it may be "harvested" by software "robots" and put into lists distributed to spammers (senders of unwanted, sometimes fraudulent, commercial email).
There is a way to avoid this but still enable visitors to your website to send you an email: this has existed for a few years and it's still there today (yes, I have used it myself):
http://vzone.virgin.net/phil.ronan/scramble.html
To use this scrambler to generate some Javascript, you type into two fields: your name and your email address.
Example: Your name = King Kong
email address = kingkong@nodomain.com

The result of using this is some code in Javascript that needs to be inserted into the HTML code of the web page (select the code press Ctrl+C; go to your text editor, to the point where to insert the code, and press Ctrl+V). When the code is executed in the course of displaying the web page that contains it, it creates a link and when it is clicked, a message box with OK and CANCEL buttons pops up (saying "Send an email to King Kong?" and showing the email address). When the visitor clicks the OK button, the "mailto:" html command is executed, but neither the word "mailto" nor the email address is visible in the Javascript. This means that a visitor to your website can only use this to send you an email if the visitor's browser has javascript enabled (note: Javascript is not Java - you can enable one and disable the other, in FireFox at least).

The Javascript code consists of 2 script sections (each begins with a SCRIPT tag and ends with /SCRIPT. Between the 2 sections is a version of the email address: in this example it would be
kingkong [at] nodomain [dot] com. I suggest replacing this with, for example, "click here" and precede the Javascript with "To send me an email ". The web page will then look like:
To send me an email click here (with "click here" displayed as the text of a link, i.e. usually blue and underlined).
The procedure I described above may not be the way to insert this into the code of a website if you are using an HTML editor to create the page, but it's probably not difficult. At present, when I write html for a website, I edit it "by hand" with a simple text editor so I have full control and knowledge of the whole contents.

Of course, this won't do any good for email addresses that are already in the spammers' lists. All you can do then is NEVER click on any link in a spam email, not even if it offers to remove you from a mailing list - that simply confirms that your email address is valid.

I hope this is useful to somebody!

Oliver


Yo can get something similar here for free: http://mailhide.recaptcha.net/protect


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Oliver Walter  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 12:47
Member (2005)
German to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
My responses to 2 replies Dec 20, 2009

Daniel Bird wrote:
A colleague of mine converts the text of his address into an uneditable graphic format and embeds the graphic; because it isn't a piece of text the robots can't recognise it as an address. Neat dodge.

Yes, that's another method that's probably effective (until the address-stealing robots can do OCR on the images) but it requires the email sender to type the address - not necessarily a bad thing.

Pablo Bouvier wrote:
Yo can get something similar here for free: http://mailhide.recaptcha.net/protect

The site I quoted is also free. Yes, this one looks OK, perhaps a little complicated and it requires some work by the person wanting to send the email.

Oliver


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