How to Make Your E-Mail Address
Invisible to Spam Bots

by Barbara Brabec

Since robots and spiders routinely search the Web for e-mail addresses, Web site owners need to take steps to protect their addresses. If your e-mail address appears on your Web site, it can be vacuumed up by Web spiders or spam bots, and you'll get more and more junk mail as time marches on. 

Once your address is "in the system," the only way to stop mail to a particular address is to stop using it. If you can't bear to part with your perfect e-mail address, your next best option is to install a good antispam program* that will drop most of the junk mail to this address into a special folder when you download your messages. As time allows, you can quickly scan this junk mail folder for any legitimate messages that might have slipped through and then dump them. I used to get only a few junk messages a day, but the quantity is now up to 200 a day and climbing. (Some businesses in my network report they are receiving two or three thousand messages a day, so this clearly is a problem that can't be ignored.)

 If you lack the technical ability to hide your e-mail address on your Web site through the use of CGI or JavaScript, you can use one of the free e-mail encoders on the Web to turn your address into simple HTML code that will look like gibberish to spam bots. (Supposedly, this code can't be read by Web robots, but there are no guarantees since the robots aren't likely to stay dumb forever.) You just type your e-mail address into the encoder and it gives you HTML code to strip into your site. Mine looks like this: 

<A HREF="mailto:&#98;&#97;&#114;bara&#64;barbarabrab&#101;&#99;.c&#111;&#109;">
&#98;&#97;&#114;bara&#64;barbarabrab&#101;&#99;.c&#111;&#109;</a>

I use this encoder now, but you can find others on the Web simply by typing "email encoder" into your browser's search window.

See also related article, Handling Spam Spoofers, (what to do when someone steals your e-mail address or URL to send junk or pornographic mail).

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