Spam with Unicode
of Spam: Those
obnoxious, unsolicited emails you receive concerning Viagra, snoring,
your penis/breast size, the latest hot stock, the greatest porno
Web site, earning a six-figure income if you really want
to, and going into business for yourself by flooding other people's
in boxes with the same crap that's driving you insane.
did they find my email address?
Short answer: They looked for it.
Long answer: By using a spidering software that searches
the Internet for email addresses and compiles the addresses it finds.
Or by purchasing a CD with email addresses that were collected using
Solution: Don't put your email address online.
is a tricky solution, because WSU requires that Web pages have an
email address at which someone can be reached. The key is to not
have an email address in any form that these address spiders can
about just using a graphic with my email address?
Theoretically possible, but this limits the usability of your
page, and also brushes with illegality. Of course, if you use a
graphic, and then link the graphic using the mailto:email@example.com
configuration, the spider software will simply take your address
from the link.
you don't bother to link the graphic, you will depend on the initiative
and accuracy of the visitor to get the address into an email programdefinitely
a hit-miss proposition. Even worse, since university Web sites are
required by law to be accessible to the visually impaired, this
email address is a violation of Federal guidelines. Screen readers
can read HTML text (like this text that you are reading now), but
they can't read graphics (like the example to
the right). Can you say Section 508 incompatible? I thought
there a way to fool the spiders with Java Script?
yes, but since some people may disable Java Script in their browsers,
this also presents accessibility problems, and should be avoided.
about HTML forms?
Now you're talking! Use a form, such as the Video Unit's Video
Project Proposal Form. Your visitors type in their comments,
click the submit button, and boom, the server emails you
can be an excellent solution, although there are some drawbacks.
First, creating a form is much more involved than simply providing
an email link. In addition to creating the form with HTML, you need
to link it to a server-side program ("script") to interact
with the form. Cooperation with your system administrator may be
required. Secondly (and more importantly), this will only work if
your email address is stored in the script, and not as a parameter
in the actual HTML form. It is easy enough to use the FormMail
script, which simply requires you to correctly construct an HTML
form, but your HTML form will include your email address, which
can be harvested by a spider.
so what is the correct way to stop my email address from getting
In a word, Unicode. Each letter on the keyboard (and more) can be
represented in HTML by a series of six other characters. For instance,
if your HTML source code contains the combination
browser will interpret this series of characters as
browsers and some email programs automatically convert these characters,
the spiders that mine email addresses do not. So instead of using
the hypertext reference
replacing the @ character with
added levels of fun and security, you can convert your entire address,
or the entire reference, with a Unicode converter, such as the Fantomas
mailShield. This is exactly what I have done with the email
addresses on this site. So when you see:
can click the link to obtain the email address in your email client,
but if you examine this page's source code, you will see that the
reference gives my address in Unicode, quite indecipherable to the
ordinary mortal. Remember, only the hypertext reference should
have your email address. The link text should say something like
"Send Email," or perhaps your name, as I have done above.
While you can type or paste Unicode directly into Dreamweaver
4.0's link field in the Properties Inspector, previous versions
of Dreamweaver will automatically convert the Unicode to alphabet
(Grrr!). For Dreamweaver 1-3, you will need to insert the Unicode
in your code view.
to skip the labored explanation?
Go straight to the solution.
way to give your email address on your site:
an unlinked graphic.) This is the only time you will be able to
read my email address on a Web page that I have madebecause
spiders can't read the graphic.
I do the Unicode correctly?
click the link in your browser to see if the correct address appears
in your email program.