How To Stop Email Harvesting Robots Or Bots
Email harvesting robots are software programs that scans websites, forums, newsgroups and other online sources for email addresses. The email addresses will be harvested and would probably form part of a bulk mailing list used by or sold to spammers. If your email address have been harvested in this way, you will probably start getting spammed badly.
This article is about simple techniques that you can use on your website to thwart these troublesome email robots. These techniques will not stop all robots, but should be able to stop a significant percentage from harvesting your email address from your web page.
Normally, some webmasters will have an email address on the contact page. This is an email harvesting robot's dream come true. They are going to have a field day, and then talk to the other robots about how easy you are. You don't want that to happen right?
Well, to make the robots do a little work, and maybe even leave them stumped, you can mask your email address so that it does not look like an email address. The following are some ideas which might work:
- put a space in your email address so that it reads like: user @ YourDomain.com
- put a space between every character: u s e r @ Y o u r D o m a i n . c o m
- remove the @ and the full stop: user at YourDomain dot com
- use ASCII code to replace the @ symbol: user@YourDomain.com
- instruct the surfer to remove a word: user@YourDomain.com.REMOVEME
- replace your email address with an image file
- make it only human readable: my email address's ID is user and my domain is YourDomain.com
document.write('<a href=\"mailto:' + id + '@' + website + '\">');
document.write(id + '@' + website + '</a>');
Just remember to change "user" on the third line to your email id, and "YourDomain.com" on the fourth line to your domain.
Disposable Email Address
This may be the most effective method to combat spam originating from the email robots. If all the above methods fail, and even if they do succeed, you can always have an email address which you use only for your contact page, or any other page that has your email address. Don't use this address for any other purpose. That way, should spam to the email address become a problem, just change the email address on your web pages, delete the old email address and configure the new email address on the web server.
But do remember that some surfers might still be using the old email address which they got your website, so you might not want to delete the old email right away. Just configure an autoresponder so that anybody who sends email to the old address will get a message directing them to the new address. Don't worry about the bots getting the new email as I don't think bots read their email.
This option is best used when you want to have a disposable address. If you use this option, there is no need to configure an autoresponder, as nobody but the bots will have your email address. Note that for normal versions of the SendMail cgi program, your email address will still need to be included on your website, so using a contact form by itself will not do anything to stop the bots.