... just like spiced ham!
7 January 2004
Arriving back from holidays to a quiet office I was greeted by 276 e-mails. 4 of those I kept.
The place where I work has a real problem with spam. Our web site gets moderate traffic and on it somewhere are the mailto: links which chew up so much of our time. Obviously, the addresses have been culled by some devious uber-spammer and now do the rounds on a CD with some other "175,000 real names and addresses!" And there's now nothing we can do about it – the addresses are on all our stationery, advertising and yo-yos, so we can hardly abandon them in favour of a more discreet handle.
On my own web site I have a bit more control and like to take preventative measures against the enemy. Some sites leave their only point of access as a CGI form, but I feel that this is a bit too hermitic; people often have legitimate reasons for looking up your e-mail address and you shouldn't surrender good service in the name of spam prevention. As most e-mail addresses would be automatically culled by a web spider, the key in placing an e-mail address on a web page is to make it human readable, but not machine readable. This can be achieved by writing "here AT there dot com", but this automatically breaks the ability to have a mailto: link attached to your e-mail address. I strayed away from using character codes because I figured they were too easily translatable and could be circumvented by a trivial improvement to your average spider.
As a last resort, the actual e-mail address listed on the site is just a series of numbers. Anyone wishing to contact me for the first time may do so using that address, but further correspondence is done using my "real" address. Therefore, I can easily abandon the e-mail listed on the web site without affecting my lines of communication, and replace it with another series of numbers.
These measures have worked so far – no spam yet (jinx) – but each of them is bound to give way over time as spammers become more wily. And, eventually, some careless correspondent will leave my treasured e-mail address lying in some online forum or in a virus addled mail client and I'll have to start all over again *sigh*. So hopefully, action like the US anti-spam legislation and Microsoft's anti-spam algorithms will cut spam at its source – the only way to stop it.
How do you keep your life spam free? Reveal your secrets!
Follow me on Twitter
To hear smaller but more regular stuff from me, follow @themaninblue.
- Resolution dependent layout update
- footerStickAlt: A more robust method of positioning a footer
- widgEditor: A simple, standards-compliant WYSIWYG HTML editor
- Accessible, stylish form layout