Countering Spam

July 30, 2005

We have developed the habit of recommending that clients avoid making their email addresses spider-accessible. That is, rather than including linked email addresses directly in their pages, we have them use other techniques to hide their email addresses while maintaining a user-friendly approach for users to contact them via email. One rather traditional way is to use contact forms. I'm not a big fan of having to use a form myself, but I'm willing to put users through the pain in exchange for not having to receive a hundred or more spam messages a day because my email address is being harvested by spiders. We have other methods we use that I think are a little more user friendly and more polished, depending on the context. My favorite is using a small flash object that displays the email address and invokes the user's mail client when clicked. Anyway, having said all this, it freaks me out to see pages on the web sites of supposedly web-savvy companies with emails stuck right out in the open for every spider that passes by. Given my past experience with such mistakes, these addresses are most surely being bombarded with spam. Am I missing something? Do any other web shops out there see this as a major faux pas? Does anybody have any other ideas for helping curb spam as it relates to publishing email addresses?