Publishing an email address on a web page invites more spam. Protect your address by masking it from the email harvesters (spambots) used by spammers. This article tests 50 masking methods against 23 harvesters to see which methods work to stop spammers, and which do not.
A typical web page bar chart uses an image from a presentation or spreadsheet application. The network latency cost for the image is high, slowing down the web site. Instead, create bars using rows of Unicode block characters: █. The characters are much faster to download and they scale well as the font size is changed.
CSS defines only three bullet shapes: disc, circle, and square. To get custom bullets, web designers use small bullet images. The network latency cost for these images is high, slowing down the web site. Instead, avoid bullet images and use Unicode symbol characters as bullets. Unicode bullets require nothing extra to download and provide thousands of bullet shapes to choose from.
A typical web page color gradient uses a thin GIF or PNG image repeated for the width of the page. However, the network latency cost for the image is high, slowing down the site. Instead, skip the image and draw the gradient with a table and thin rows of varying background colors. The table is much faster to download and looks the same.
Spammers use email harvesters (spambots) to scan the text of your web pages looking for email addresses. Protect those addresses by replacing the text address with an image or Flash animation that draws the email address. None of the harvesters tested in this article could read addresses drawn with images or Flash.
A plain email address on a web page is easily found by the email harvesters (spambots) used by spammers. To make it harder to find, split the address into pieces. Separate the pieces with HTML tags or spaces, insert the word “nospam”, replace the “@” with “at”, or put the pieces on separate lines or in separate table cells. The harvester tests reported in this article show that many of these methods work well to stop harvesters.
The email harvesters (spambots) used by spammers scan your web pages looking for email addresses to add to their spam mailing lists. Obfuscating an address obscures or scrambles its characters, making it harder for a harvester to recognize. The most common method replaces characters with their numeric ASCII character code equivalents. Browsers automatically unobfuscate the address so that site visitors can read it. While this is a popular method to protect an email address, the harvester tests reported in this article show that newer harvesters now recognize many of these addresses.