Community Email Lists: experience reducing Spam, Barron Park (Neighborhood) Association


Obscuring the Addresses of Your Lists

Background: Spammers use multiple techniques to build the lists of address that they send to. Basically (and somewhat simplistically), these are: Obscuring mail addresses on your web pages is the only part of this that you typically have any control over. How do Spammers get email addresses from web pages? They use Web robots, the same technology used by the Web search engines to build their search databases, to get Web pages. They have programs that scan the pages for likely email addresses. These programs vary greatly in sophistication: simple ones look for mailto tags in the files. Others look for strings containing "@" and fitting the rough pattern of an email address.


Putting it all together:
    <a href="mailto:%6A%73%6D%69%74%68%40%4E%6F%49%53%50%2E%63%6F%6D?SUBJECT=MyWeb:">
    jsmith<!--clutter to obscure from robots
    more clutter
It would be better to use a single obscuring method, but I like the stronger method for the mailto URI because that is the prime target of Spammer. I use the other methods for the displayed portion so that I can see what is in the mailto URI without having to decode it.

A variant is to give the SPAMmer's robot an address that throws away all mail it receives:

    <a href="mailto:%6A%73%6D%69%74%68%40%4E%6F%49%53%50%2E%63%6F%6D?SUBJECT=MyWeb:"><!--clutter to obscure from robots
    more clutter
With this the SPAMmer's robot is likely to collect the address "", whereas anyone clicking on the link will get "". If you replace the "@" in this form with "&#64;", you have another layer of obscuring.
Note: If you use this, you need to have the address aliased to (or forwarded to) "" because some people will type in what they see and not be aware that the ".nospam" component should/could be omitted.
Note: Similarly, you want to set up the email address "", and have it throw away the messages it receives rather than bouncing them (wasted resources).

To see how your browser handles the above form, here it is: <a href="mailto:%6A%73%6D%69%74%68%40%4E%6F%49%53%50%2E%63%6F%6D?SUBJECT=MyWeb:"> After seeing the window produced, dismiss (exit) it without sending the message.

Blocking Spam Messages that Find Your Lists

Reactions from List Members

Be prepared for members of the list to be very unsophisticated about mailing lists and Spam. Provide advice for members, for example SPAM and how to handle.

Version Info: $Revision: 1.14 $ $Date: 2003/04/23 09:00:34 $