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Preventing email Spam - Especially for Webmasters

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#1 Faken


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Posted 13 July 2004 - 03:55 PM

Here's a quick look on preventing that dreadful unwanted Spam from filling up your inbox. Obviously it's near impossible to prevent spam without some kind of filtering, but there are some simple ways to minimize the damage, especially as a webmaster.

The number one mistake you can do as a webmaster is to post your email address as a text link or image link using mailto:[email protected] You may not know this, but that is a guaranteed way to invite spam. How? We all know that search engines use spider technology to crawl your site for content to update it's listing. Googlebot for example... well did you know spammers have the same technology? They have their own trolling spiders that simply crawl websites for emails in the HTML code and parse that data to form huge spam lists. If you have that mailto: line in your HTML, it will log that email to it's lists.

So how to prevent that from happening? There are many techniques out there, some more practical than others. A typical method we see is for webmasters to break up their email... you then have to copy paste the email and remove the spaces... EX: me @ home . com

That certainly works, but it's not very user friendly, and there's always the chance that someone forgets to remove the spaces.

Then we have forms... this is a very popular choice because it eliminates the chance of error by the user and the spiders won't pick it up. But let's face it... most people detest using forms. They'd rather click your name and have Outlook pop open.

So what's next? I use a handy trick with javascript that breaks up the email like in the first example, but when the link is clicked, the script reforms the email address for the user. I use it all over P2L and it evidentally works great :)

Here's the code:

<script language=javascript>
  var contact = "Email Dan"
  var email = "dan"
  var emailHost = "pixel2life.com"
  document.write("<a href=" + "mail" + "to:" + email + "@" + emailHost+ ">" + contact + "</a>")

That will create a link that says Email Dan that, when clicked, opens up the users default mail program with the correct email address in the To: Field.

Happy days!

Remember, the same applies to other websites, so be careful where you post your email address out in plain site! Most forums allow you to hide your email address. I suggest you use that feature and let people PM you if necessary.

Anything else you can do?

YES! Do you have someone that likes sending e-cards to everyone and their monkey, including you? MAKE THEM STOP! Not many people seem to know this, but 99% of those "Send an e-card for free" sites simply collect the thousands of emails they get and sell them to spam list makers.

Get a spam email... many people do this already and it's a very wise move. Get yourself a separate email that you use for signing up to lists, forums etc... places where you're not so sure your email will stay completely private. At least if this email starts getting spammed back to hell, you can change it.

Just following these steps will help your inbox stay nice and tidy. be smart about how you post your contact info, and you shouldn't have any huge problems with spam.

have any additional tips? Feel free to share them by responding to this article!

All the best,

#2 _*Jay_*

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Posted 14 July 2004 - 02:37 PM

I prefer to use a mail form, and simply link to that, say like contact.php?person=jay. Then the e-mail is never revealled at all :)

But does the javascript work? Its a pretty cool way of stopping the spiders if it does :)

#3 Faken


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Posted 14 July 2004 - 02:58 PM

The javascript works great... I use it all over P2L and I get zero spam on them. The only emails that don't use it (Wanted to test) are the links on the main page to submit POTW and SOTW and they do get some spam. I started getting a couple within days of them posted on the site.


#4 _*Jay_*

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Posted 14 July 2004 - 03:04 PM

nice, gonna start implementing this one on new versions of my site i think.

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