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How to Prevent Spam/Don't Put Your Email On Your Website

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In April 2007, Nucleus Research did research on the cost of spam. The cost per year per employee was $712 (that's 16 seconds a day and making $31,000). By cost, I mean lost wages due to lack of productivity.

So companies end up purchasing spam protection software. Internet service provider's, web hosting companies and other email hosting services typically have some sort of email filtering service but it doesn't eliminate all spam (and if it does, there's probably legit emails your not getting!). It's a band aid approach.

Like having a cut. You may have cut your finger but the cut is still there. So you put the band aid on it to stop the infection but when it comes to spam, the cut is always there.

So how do you prevent spam? All the preventatives assist in stopping spam at the third or fourth phase of spamming. They don't take into consideration the first step.

In order to spam, you need to collect email addresses to actually send the messages too.

How's this done? It's similiar to search engines. How they work is they send out a search bot to index your site. The search bot will take all the text off your website and use it in their search engine listing. In order to get your email address, harvesters will go out and do the same thing however a harvester will look for something in the form of an email address. It will search your website for anything with an @ (at) sign in it. Then if it finds an @ (at) sign it will look for a proceeding . (dot) and a few letters immediately following the dot.

For instance:

You see the email address. It's easy for you and I to tell it is in the form of an email address, it has the @ (at) sign and a . (dot) followed immediately by a few characters without spaces.

Obviously an email address. So the crawler/harvester searches your website for something in the form of an email address and then it enters that email into the crawler/harvesters database.

Your email address is then either used to be spammed or is sold to a spammer who will then spam you.

So, by listing your email address on your website, your giving your email address away to anyone who spams. This is one reason I do not list client email addresses on their website because my clients don't want spam. That being said, I have had a few clients who wanted their email address listed anyway. We created another email account to do this though.

But how to people reach us then? Of course the idea of a website is to promote your service or product. We don't want to remove the ability for potential clients to contact you. So we setup a contact form instead. A contact form asks you to fill in your name, email address and a message (or what ever you want it to ask for). Then when you hit the submit button, an email is sent to the company with the information from the contact form.

By using a contact form, you're email addresses are not given out and the email address is hidden. Years ago, back in the perl/cgi days people used to use contact forms where they would put their email address in the HTML coding, hiding the email address to the user but it's still in the coding. This was before spam was spam as we know it today.

But that's only one step. People can still get your email address if you end up listing it on a website, it just won't be as widely available.

If you can find your email address in a search engine, then harvesters can find your email address.

The purpose of using a contact form is to prevent the spammer from being able to get your email address instead of stopping them from emailing you.

Some people will not list their email address on their website but will link to an email address. For instance, this link if hover over it or click it you will see my email address. The email address will still be picked up by harvesters, after all they look at the HTML code and not just how the content is displayed. So that won't help either.

Another major source of spam comes from companies who offer free products. For instance, years ago there used to be a company offering free sunglasses. Just fill out the form online and they will send you a pair. I never got the sunglasses but they got my contact information including my email address which they ended up selling to spammers.

So if your serious about cutting spam out of your life or your employees lifes, be careful where you list your email address and don't let people list your email address where ever they want. Ask them to remove it and offer them a link to a contact form.

By doing so, I have cut back the amount of spam I receive big time. In April, 2009 morriscode will have it's first birthday (I sold dotServing at the end of March 08). In the past 11 months, I have only received 1 piece of spam.

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