PDQ Library:  Munging

I assume you already know about "safe Internet" practice browsing the web or reading email! (Turn off image loading or supress message view until you delete all suspected spam mail. Never unsubscribe or reply to spam. Never click a link in unsolicited mail.)  You really need to learn tricks to "prevent" spam, not just mopping it up after you are flooded with the junk!

Protect your Address in Newsgroups:

Munging email addresses is a common method used by people posting messages to newsgroups to deter people from using their address for spamming (sending junk mail). Most spammers use automated tools for mining addresses from newsgroup message headers to send millions of junk mails.

A better way to mung your address is to add .INVALID to the end of your entire address: aaa@bbb.com.INVALID. By international agreement, INVALID will never be used as a domain. Addresses are parsed right to left, so the spammer's ISP can quickly determine the address is invalid without searching the domain name database or sending the mail "upstream". This should reduce the overall spam load on the Net.

Of course, if everyone did this, spammers could easily strip it out. But, you shouldn't make up domain names - many of them actually exist! Try aaa@bbb_NOSPAM.com. Readers must manually de-mung the address in order to reply to your news posts. If the NOSPAM is capitalized, people should readily notice it, but you have to provide instructions in your "signature" at the end. Note munging violates the rules upon which Usenet is built.

Protect your Address in a Web Page:

  1. Web pages is the largest source of spam, with newsgroups and online accounts far behind. Computers roam the Web looking for "@" on web pages and harvest valid addresses for spam lists. So remove all 'naked' email addresses and 'mailto' links from web pages and replace them with a few tricks that email harvesters won't "see".
  2. Convert @ and . into words: "pat at souper dot com" - but appently some harvesters scan for these now too!
  3. Use an images of your address - easy to create with all photo and image editing software. Just create a new image, find the function for adding text, and type your email address. Choose text font and a background colour that looks good on your web page. Store the image with your web page and use your web page editor to add the image where you want the email to appear. Do NOT type the email address in the ALT or TITLE tag!
  4. Replace a mailto link with an encoded clickable email address. Or create an text "image" of your email address and create a link for it.
  5. Use disposable addresses when you are required to provide one in web forms.
  6. Use email forms that hide your email address. This will help legitimate readers of your website since some of them cannot use mailto links of any kind because of (office) system rules.
  7. Replace a mailto link to a link to your email form. Problem solved.
  8. I saved the easiest for last. Replace some of all of the text in mailto link with ascii codes. These display correctly, and even work properly when clicked, but harvesters won't get them. Be sure to test the mailto link before publishing the edited page!
      Replace @ with @
      Replace . with .
      Replace : with :
      Simply replace Ron@xxxxx.com with Ron@xxxxx.com
      and replace mailto: with this text: mailto:
      or encode the entire text with this: mailto:
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