Tuesday, October 19, 2004

On Email Address Obfuscation

Most of you who read this will think "Why is this guy saying this. Everybody knows this." Well, maybe not for those who are just getting started on the web (and yes, those exist).

It is common practice on the web to make your email address very hard to read. This isn't an attempt to fool internet users; if the poster didn't want his email known, he wouldn't post it. It is an attempt to fool programs that scour the internet for email addresses for use by spammers. Yes, if you post your email online, you will eventually get spammed. Sorry.

So, people started obfuscating their addresses in such a way that they couldn't be recognized by the programs that search for emails. Let's take the email fakeemail@gmail.com for an example. Eventually, some spammer is going to spam fakeemail@gmail.com because their automatic email collecting program will find it. But, you can usually trick these programs by posting your email as "fakeemail a t gmail dot com." To a human, that can be deciphered. But that is less likely the case for a program (depending on how sophisticated it is).

An idea that I like that I'm about to use is to replace the very end, so that it becomes "fakeemail a t gmail etc," where the "etc" really means the ".com" that ends so many emails. My email that I am about to put on my blog is "eric dot sowell a t gmail etc." Can you figure that out? If so, you can send me email! And unless a spammer comes and sees it himself...he probably won't :)

So, if you were wondering what all those funky email addresses where, now you know.


At 1:06 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

you can also use fakeemail+spamattack@gmail.com

At 1:02 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Really there are lot better ways. Try this

At 3:42 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I know this is a long time after the post...

I'm still amazed how many people there are, who seem to be knowledgeable about the web and related technologies, that still have no idea about example.com.



At 4:32 PM, Blogger Eric Sowell said...

Ummmm...why are you bothering me again?

At 10:48 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

To whoever said there are a lot better ways then linked to one of the easiest to defeat ways...
Try this: Create an ascii logo of your email address using random text and shrink it down to resemble ordinary text. Generator is at:

At 10:49 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

oops, wrong url. The right one is:

At 1:38 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just found your post through a google search for "email address
obfuscation" and wanted to show you a program I just finished that can
display obfuscated email addresses. It requires the use of php, therefore it might be of less use to those who simply want to drop a piece of HTML into their web site, but for dynamically generated web sites it might prove to be useful.

You can find it here:

At 1:58 PM, Blogger ain said...

Mac OS X users can use a Dashboard widget called obfuscatr. It provides JS or just plain encoding of your email. See the details at flash tekkie.

obfuscatr was also featured in MacWorld Italy of March 2008.


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