Eluding Email Address Spam Bots

spam botSpammers have several ways to collect valid email addresses: two of their sources are websites and blog sites a third is support forums. Spammers use robots that crawl over all the pages they can reach on the Internet (more or less like search engines’ web spiders do).

The robots scan for mailto: tags or whatever looks like something@something. Any email address published on a web page, blog, forum, etc. risks being collected and used as a target for mass mailing.

It’s also noteworthy that some viruses that spread themselves by email read the browser’s cache of the infected computer to find possible victims: so if an infected computer is used to browse a web page containing your address, the virus might sends itself to you via an infected mail from that computer.

There are simple ways to prevent such spam bots from doing their “dirty work”.

A. Contact forms

The first option on a wordpress.com blog is not to post an email address at all and instead to use a Contact Form on a page or in posts.

If that’s not your choice then the two best ways to post an email address are through the use of an email image generator or through email address “munging”.

B. Email address image generators

Below are links to some free email address image generators:

NOTE: Be sure that you do not link this email address image that you create to your actual email address when posting it as doing so will entirely defeat your purpose.

C. Email address munging

Email address munging is the act of using ASCII, JavaScript, and scrambling of letters in your email address in order to hide your email address from spam bots, spiders, and spoofers. You can call it “mung”, “munge”, “encode”, “obfuscate”, “mask”, “hide”, “cloak”, or “conceal”. Most website owners don’t bother to implement any of this, but definitely should. And anyone with an inbox full of spam will tell you that it’s essential.

  1. This is one tool allows you to munge and mask your email address by using ASCII, JavaScript, and/or image links.
  2. Here’s another tool like the one above.
  3. Here’s third tool you can use to obfuscate an email address.
  4. And here’s another ASCII Email Obfuscator you can use.

D. Displaying your email address image or your “munged” email address on your wordpress.com blog

How do I upload pictures
Put an image in your sidebar in an image widget
Put your email address in text a widget

Reference: Masking Your Email Address

21 thoughts on “Eluding Email Address Spam Bots

  1. I am still learning my way around – but does adding ‘Follow via Email’ to my Sidebar make me vulnerable? I have tried to find the answer myself, but I don’t think I know the blog language enough to find the answer.

    Thank you for raising the issue…

    • I don’t know what you mean by vulnerable. If you have a public blog then providing subscriptions to it makes a lot of sense, as we all want to be heard and engage in discussion about the subjects we blog about or we wouldn’t have public blogs.

  2. Thank you Timethief I read all your responses to questions that I had and you have answered at various times. I really do appreciate the help as the solutions have all come true and have worked, not only from you also from others. Many thanks
    Sharon

  3. Pingback: 10 Ways to Protect Against Email Spam « one cool site

  4. really clever! i was doing it like this: adress(at)whatever(dot)com but i think i will use one of these suggestions for the future.
    I have only been blogging for a week or 2, its been a steep learning curve, and your page has been super helpful! and your so nice to people who ask questions (you know, the questions youve heard a million times before…) ive seem some pretty rude responses in the forums, but not here!
    you rock! i will be back for more…

    xx

    • @Kerry
      Thanks so much for the positive feedback on my blog content. You’re welcome.

      P.S. I’m taking a brief vacation from answering forum questions right now.

  5. Hi timethief!
    Know what, you’ve successfully ‘forced’ me to pay more attention on spam issue. Thank you for the tips and the links. Rock on, girl! ;)

  6. Many thanks, timethief, for putting your – vastly superior! – expertise at our disposal. It’s a fantastic resource for people like me who are clueless about ICT. This is all incredibly useful.

    • @Minnie,
      I’m so glad this post helped you. It amazes me that people are not savvy to the fact that all email addresses are being harvested for spamming purposes. You’re welcome and best wishes for happy blogging. :)

    • @Minnie,
      I’m so glad this post helped you. It amazes me that people are not savvy to the fact that all email addresses are being harvested for spamming purposes, and for spreading viruses and malware. You’re welcome and best wishes for happy blogging. :)

  7. You are very welcome! Saving TimeThief. I had more questions and I still see you are answering so many people’s problems voluntarily? WordPress needs to employ you as a spokesperson! Where do we protest on your behalf?

    • The forum you are posting to is a peer support forum. Staff do monitor it but the majority of all questions are being answered by fellow bloggers. WordPress.com also has great support documentation but until one learns the jargon they may not know the keywords to search that produces answers to their questions. This is the link to the support documentation http://en.support.wordpress.com/ We can also file support tickets that Staff deal with and the link for doing that is this one http://en.support.wordpress.com/contact/ Those two links are found on the bottom left of your Admin pages on your wordpress.com blog. It’s important to note that we at wordpress.com do not answer questions posed by bloggers who are self hosting free software from wordpress.org. The software is different and the support forum link for all questions pertaining to wordpress.org software is here http://wordpress.org/support/

      Most importantly, it’s worthwhile to read and learn what the differences are between the two different kinds of software so you do know which forum is the correct one to post to. You will find that information here http://support.wordpress.com/com-vs-org/

    • @Susie
      Thank you for thanking me. This post receives so may hits and yet only two visitors have bothered to leave a comment. You made my day. :)

      • Of course, it is so important to thank the people who truly make things easier on our journey. If we failed to do so, knowledgeable experts such as yourself might not have a reason to continue to feed us with the priceless information contained on this site of yours. On behalf of all the “wordpressed” people who seek guidance. We thank you! Keep up the good work

  8. Great tips, some of which I didn’t already know
    but I am glad you took the time to list them, very helpful post.

  9. Pingback: How to Become a Better Blogger 2: Online Privacy « one cool site: wordpress blogging tips

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