De-spamming tools

We all hate spam, right? (I’m assuming that anyone who actually likes spam is probably a spammer, and therefore not the type to read this blog) We hate receiving it, and those of us who have websites have to face the prospect that if our pages contain any e-mail addresses, that spambots will attempt to strip-mine those addresses from our web pages, consuming resources on our web servers and making us complicit in their evildoing.

The simplest and most Draconian approach is to remove all e-mail addresses from your site. But that goes completely contrary to the two-way spirit of the Internet. You could just show a graphic representation of your e-mail address, but that’s inconvenient–your legitimate correspondents would need to hand-type it into their mail clients. (And what happens when spambots are wired up to optical-character recognition software? And what about people who have image-loading turned off?) Some people have gone to extraordinary length to foil spambots. One approach is to create a spambot trap, also called a tarpit. Another approach is to encode your address in a way that most web browsers will represent as a normal, usable address with a clickable link, but will confound an unsophisticated spambot. I was impressed by this one, which actually uses javascript and prime-factoring encryption to conceal the underlying address.

I’m telling ya, it’s a jungle out there.