Encoding Your Email

As I've advised in previous articles and seminars, nothing attracts junk-email faster than having your address prominently posted on the Internet.

Whether your address is on every page of your web site, posted on external sites, or both, spam harvesting programs will find it, and then abuse it.

While you can always remove your email address from public display, which does tend to make contacting you slightly more difficult for sales prospects, and that might be a bad business decision.

An idea I've previous mentioned is that of using a graphic picture of your email address that real users can read. This completely solves the issue of automated harvesting by spammers, but forces human readers to manually enter the email address they see into their software in order to send you email. This is simply because a graphical representation cannot be hyperlinked; otherwise the address would remain vulnerable.

Another option that's slightly more risky, but much more human friendly, is to use JavaScript encoding in order to harden your email against harvesting software.

This relies on the assumption that the typical email address harvester is not yet designed to "decode" email addresses, as that would take greater computational efforts and slow down the harvesting process.

While simple to say, encoding can be confusing without a simple and free service offered by the likes of Automatic Labs.

Their online "Enkoder Form" enables you to enter the email address, text that's displayed and other optional information into their site, and it will automatically prepare the appropriate JavaScript code that you can then include in your web pages.

The result is that viewers can see your address (if you choose to display it) and more importantly, they can simply "click" on the hyper-link in order to send you email.

While there's no absolute guarantee that advanced, or future, harvesters will not be able to scrape your address with this approach, and visitors will need a JavaScript capable browser for this to work, it's a pretty good balance between the risk of spam and ease of use for potential clients.

To see how the Enkoder works, simply visit:

http://automaticlabs.com/products/enkoderform/

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Copyrighted with all rights reserved by Stephen M. Canale