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April 27, 2004

Dear Aunty Spam: What is Website "Address Harvesting", and How Can I Prevent It?

Posted 2 years, 2 months ago on April 27, 2004

Dear Aunty Spam,

What is website "address harvesting", and how can I prevent it?

Signed,

Ima Webmaster


---

Dear Ima,

The term "address harvesting", in this context, refers to the unsavoury practice of finding and copying email addresses from the pages of websites. You know all of those lovely "contact us" webpages which everyone has? Well, spammers just love to pick those tasty little ripe email addresses from the orchard of your website.

The recently enacted CAN-SPAM act of 2003 makes it illegal to send spam to email addresses which have been harvested, and provides for enhanced sentencing (would you like fries with that?) for a spamming defendant who is found guilty of address harvesting.

But, like that's going to stop it from happening.

So here are a few tips, dear Ima, which will allow users to contact you through your website, while not allowing your email address to fall into the wrong hands:

1. Employ the use of javascript to create your email address ad hoc when user runs the script in order to submit mail to you.

2. Use some form of mailform (cgi, php, etc.), but be wary of versions which have security issues.

3. Provide an html form through which users can contact you, as an alternative to email.

4. Alter your email address on your website to make it unreadable by machines, such as substituting the word "at" for "@", adding a character string to the email address which you instruct the user to remove, or writing it in Klingon with a pointer to an online Klingon dictionary.

5. Display the email address as a graphic, rather than text.

There is a wealth of information about each of these methods available on the web.

Good luck, and remember, practice safe spam-filtering!

Kissy kissy,

Aunty Spam

Questions may be submitted to Aunty Spam by sending email to "auntyspam at slamaspammer.com".

The trackback url for this post is http://www.aunty-spam.com/bblog/trackback.php/22/

Re: Dear Aunty Spam: What is Website

Posted 2 years, 2 months ago by Daveykins FoxFire • • wwwReply

I have a good suggestion for encoding your E-Mail address on your site, which I use on mine. It is called Hiveware Enkoder, which is located at http://www.hiveware.com/enkoder_form.php

Trackback URL : http://www.aunty-spam.com/bblog/trackback.php/22/32/

Re: Dear Aunty Spam: What is Website

Posted 2 years, 2 months ago by Mike • • • Reply

Try this method - works just fine: http://www.u.arizona.edu/~trw/spam/spam4.htm

Trackback URL : http://www.aunty-spam.com/bblog/trackback.php/22/34/

Addresses as images

Posted 2 years, 2 months ago by codeman38 • • wwwReply

One problem with displaying the e-mail address as a graphic rather than as text: not so good for users who are blind or dyslexic or who can only access a text-based terminal...

Trackback URL : http://www.aunty-spam.com/bblog/trackback.php/22/33/

Re: Addresses as images

Posted 2 years, 2 months ago by Jack • • • Reply

This is true, but you can include an alt to the img tag (ex: img scr="emailgrfx.gif" width="123" height="123" alt="mymail@emailaddress.org">) The reader should pick up in the alt text and read it aloud. You can also use it to make the comment "click here to send e-mail to ...........".

Trackback URL : http://www.aunty-spam.com/bblog/trackback.php/22/36/

Re: Addresses as images

Posted 2 years, 2 months ago by sPaz • • • Reply

Doesn't that defeat the object of obfuscating the email address ? Any harvester should pick up on the email address ...

Trackback URL : http://www.aunty-spam.com/bblog/trackback.php/22/37/

Re: Addresses as images

Posted 2 years, 2 months ago by codeman38 • • wwwReply

You could always use, as the alt tag, something that might not be picked up so easily by spammers but would still be easy to convert to an e-mail address -- i.e., by writing it out as "cody at zone 38 dot net" or something like that.

Trackback URL : http://www.aunty-spam.com/bblog/trackback.php/22/62/

Re: Dear Aunty Spam: What is Website

Posted 2 years, 2 months ago by Libertyall • • • Reply

Try the software at this address: http://www.adduco.nl/encodeuk.htm

Trackback URL : http://www.aunty-spam.com/bblog/trackback.php/22/35/

Re: Dear Aunty Spam: What is Website

Posted 2 years, 2 months ago by Pat • • wwwReply

If you're interested in a PHP script to do this, go on over to www.stevedawson.com. There is no direct link to his script, but click on the Free Scripts link, then scroll down the page to where it says PHP Contact Me. Configuration instructions are easy, and no knowledge of PHP is required to set it up.

Trackback URL : http://www.aunty-spam.com/bblog/trackback.php/22/44/

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