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HOW TO

3 Tips To Help Webmasters Reduce Spam In Their Inbox, Today
By: Developer Shed
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    2003-10-10

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    3 Tips To Help Webmasters Reduce Spam In Their Inbox, Today
    by Steve Nash

    Email spam is no joke.

    Each month the situation of unsolicited junk email seems to
    get worse and worse, wasting more and more of your valuable
    time.

    If you are a webmaster (or site owner) - i.e. you have your
    email address on a website - then there *is* something you
    can do to help reduce spam in your inbox, today.

    Quite simply, you need to encrypt your email address, and
    get rid of the bare mailto: link on your site.

    This article covers:

    • How webmasters get S P A M in the first place
    • Tip 1: Encrypt your e-mail address with ASCII-code
    • Tip 2: Encrypt your e-mail address using JavaScript
    • Tip 3: Hide your email address in an anti- S P A M feedback form
    • Further reading about the 'spam wars'
    • Bonus Tip: Use the very latest anti-spam email address

    So, let's begin.

    => How Webmasters Get S P A M In The First Place

    There are many ways that webmasters, everyone really, can
    get sent spam. (See Further Reading below for a full
    discussion.) The easiest way, however, is to simply put your
    email address onto a website in the format: mailto:name@a.b

    Then, so-called email-harvesting programs (spambots) visit
    this web page and collect each and every email address they
    find, and add it to a spammers database.

    So, if you put an 'un-protected' e-mail address on a
    website, soon enough you'll receive all sorts of unwanted
    e-mails in your inbox.

    This article discusses 3 ways to protect or encrypt your
    email address, and thus make it harder for spambots to add
    your email address to spammers databases.

    Here are a few tips that WILL help reduce what I call
    'webmaster s p a m':

    == ASIDE ==
    You may well get S P A M sent to the e-mail address you
    leave at a forum, or newsgroup too. In this case - when you
    are unable to encrypt your email address - you should use a
    freebie e-mail address instead, as mentioned at the end of
    this article.
    == ASIDE ==

    => Tip 1 - Encrypt Your E-Mail Address Using ASCII-code.

    Simply put, this means replacing letters and numbers in your
    e-mail address with its ASCII equivalent;e.g. a@b.c would be
    a@b.&#99

    It's best if you also encrypt the mailto: statement too, as
    I *have* received spam at an ASCII-encoded email address !

    I use Mailto-Encrypter, a Windows-compatible program, but
    you might want to visit the following online resource. The
    "Advanced Email Link Generator with Anti-Spam Encoder"
    generates mailto: links you can copy and paste
    into your web pages and emails.
    http://willmaster.com/possibilities/demo/aelgwase.html

    (You can also find several mailto encrypters via Google.)

    => Tip 2 - Encrypt Your E-Mail Using JavaScript.

    Using a simple JavaScript program like this:

    <script language="JavaScript">
    <!-- Begin
    user = "aaa";
    site = "bbb.com";

    document.write('<a href=\"mailto:' + user + '@' + site +
    '\">');
    document.write(user + '@' + site + '</a>');
    // End -->
    </script>

    produces mailto:aaa@bbb.com on your web page; which acts as a
    valid e-mail address. Most e-mail spambots can not recognise
    the JavaScript as an email address (but it's only a matter
    of time!).

    Want to see an example? Visit the link below - the e-mail
    address has been generated using JavaScript code as above
    http://www.anyonecansellonline.com/about-us.shtml

    (Note: If you're a newsletter/e-zine publisher and you want to know more about making sure your e-mails are not treated as spam, then I suggest you use this new spam-check tool

    => Tip 3 - Hide Your Email Address In An Anti- S P A M Feedback Form

    Yes, your email address can be extracted from a standard
    Perl/CGI form too. (In some cases, your form can actually
    *send* spam - early versions of FormMail suffer from this
    security flaw, apparently!)

    Enter the Master Feedback form from Willmaster.com - an
    anti-S P A M feedback form.

    In the words of Willmaster.com: "Master Feedback helps you
    S P A M -proof your site by not requiring your email address
    anywhere on your page, not even embedded in hidden form
    fields or other HTML tags. Now you can stop feeding [those]
    email address harvesting robots!"

    You can download the feedback form, for free, at
    http://willmaster.com/master/feedback/

    Want to see an example of the feedback form? Visit
    http://www.free-legal-wills-guide.co.uk/contact-us.shtml

    => Further Reading About The 'Spam Wars'

    This article provides a few solutions to the problems of
    receiving s-p-a-m; but they are not the only solutions.

    For further reading on the ongoing battle against S P A M,
    and how that battle affects both the innocent and the guilty,
    take a look at these links...

    http://www.sitepoint.com/article/543
    http://website101.com/SpamFilter/spam_fighting.html
    http://website101.com/SpamFilter/spamfilter.html
    http://website101.com/SpamFilter/spamcop_vigilanties.html

    => Bonus Tip: Use The Very Latest Anti-Spam Email Address

    William Botrager, owner of Willmaster.com, is a man
    dedicated to reducing spam. Not only is he responsible for
    many of the excellent resources above, he's now created the
    ultimate (?) anti-spam email address: Master Spambot Buster

    In his words: "Master Spambot Buster not only defeats robots
    harvesting email addresses on web pages, it also completely
    nullifies their harvesting efforts when they scan

    . newsletters,
    . newsgroup postings,
    . discussion list postings,
    . instant messages,
    . print ads,
    . and any other document,

    "where the Master Spambot Buster method is used in lieu of
    publishing an email address.

    "When no email address is present, it can't be harvested."

    You can learn more about Master Spambot Buster at
    http://willmaster.com/master/spambotbuster

    Want to see an example? Well, the link below is, believe it
    or not, one of my email addresses
    http://www.wise-buys.info/cgi-bin/msb.cgi?2

    --

    So, there you have it: at least 3 ways you can reduce spam
    in your inbox, today.

    As I said in the beginning, email spam is no joke, so do
    make sure you try at least one of the methods I've shown you.

    Either use an anti-spam feedback form, or encrypt your email
    address! And if you want absolute certainty that your email
    address is safe, check out the Bonus Tip I mention above!

    Above all, remove your mailto: link on your website, any
    way you can!

    Copyright 2002-2003 Steve Nash. All Rights Reserved.

    PS Know a webmaster or site-owner who complains about spam?
    Why not pass this information on to someone else who could
    use it? It's as easy as forwarding it right now.


    DISCLAIMER: The content provided in this article is not warranted or guaranteed by Developer Shed, Inc. The content provided is intended for entertainment and/or educational purposes in order to introduce to the reader key ideas, concepts, and/or product reviews. As such it is incumbent upon the reader to employ real-world tactics for security and implementation of best practices. We are not liable for any negative consequences that may result from implementing any information covered in our articles or tutorials. If this is a hardware review, it is not recommended to open and/or modify your hardware.

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