Wednesday, March 19, 2003

Spam, Spam, Spam, Spam

I recently read about an interesting study on spam (unwanted commercial e-mail). It contained the following conclusions:

  • Most spam comes from having your e-mail address on a publicly available web site.
  • Removing the address causes the spam to decrease
  • It's possible to disguise your address from e-mail address harvesters, while making it readable to everybody else.

I have a Yahoo! Mail address I use for public correspondence. It's not one I give to friends and family, but I like people to be able to e-mail me based on what they see on the web page. The address is:

How can I put this on my web site without fear of spam? I've used characters which your browser translates into letters (and the @ symbol). Spammers use programs to search web pages; the programs don't do the same translation as browsers. They see the original, which looks like this (except without the spaces).

& #103;& #114;& #097;& #110;& #116;& #104;& #097;& #109;& #064;& #121;& #097;& #104;& #111;& #111;& #046;& #099;& #111;& #109;

I had to insert the spaces, or your browser would have translated it into the actual address.

Pretty cool, huh? Anyway, I replaced all of the copies of my e-mail address on the web site with the obfuscated version. Let's hope that cuts things back.

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