A Safe Way to Use Your Email Address on Forums & Websites


You should never post your real email address to a forum, comments form or other webpage that's publicly accessible.  If you do it will almost be certainly be harvested by spammers.

Some people try to get around this by "munging" their email address, that is, disguising the address so that only a human can understand it.  A typical example of munging is bill(at)microsoft(dot)com.

Munging has become less effective as spammers harvesting robots have got smarter. Many can now decrypt the most common munging techniques such as the example above.

Another approach is to display your email address as a graphic like this:


As this is a picture not text, it's much harder for spammers to harvest but it can still be decoded using an OCR program that can convert the graphics to text.

However you can make it nearly impossible for OCR by using different fonts and colors like this:

When you use an image for your email address users will have to manually re-type it to their email client as it can't be copied. However that's a small price to pay for keeping your address away from spammers.  Don't try to overcome this limitation by mapping the image of your email address to a Mailto link. That would directly  expose your address to spammers and defeat the whole purpose of the exercise.

Converting you email to a graphic can be done easily and for free at several websites.  One of the most impressive is http://www.hidetext.net.

It will not only convert email addresses to fancy font graphics but can convert whole slabs of text as well,  You can download the resultant image or access it via a unique URL.  To ensure privacy, you can also elect to have all traces of your converted text removed from their server.

It an impressive free service.  The only downside is that not all email services are catered for. Still, even if your email provider is not included you can still convert your address to plain text without the fancy fonts.






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