how to prevent and handle spam

are you bothered by increasing amounts of spam? prevent spam spammers use automatic email address harvesters, which prowl the WWW for addresses.  so:

  • don’t publish your email address as clear text on public web pages, neither in text nor in links;
  • rather, use javascript or an image to communicate email address visually to the reader,
  • or, even better, use a contact form/ script where there’s no email address in the html.
  • or at least mask it with, for example, address (at) domain (dot) tld, even if some of these typical maskings (using “at” and “dot”) might be recognized by some email harvesters. anything is better than email addresses in pure text or mailto-links…
  • don’t reply to or click any link in a spam message you receive, as that only brings more spam.

a few practical tips including helpful resources, especially on email address image generators and email address munging…

minimize damage if you have qmail or gmail, you can use variations of your email address to identify and isolate the source regarding email you receive, including spam. the variations you can use is on the form address+variation@domain.  you can do this to “tag” different sources, having a restrictive .qmail-default and deleting additions (qmail) or filter out additions (gmail) if spam increase on a specific address variation. handle spam if you start to get spam, and don’t want to change your email address, you’d better deal with it somehow.

  • try email with learning spam filter, e.g., thunderbird or gmail (take a look at some info on why use gmail and how to get rid of spam)
  • don’t open attachments from unknown people, or with unknown file types
  • don’t use outlook if you can avoid it (even though i understand it’s been getting better lately)


  • (outdated/ removed): “Anything you put into a mailto: tag is fodder for EmailSyphon and other site suckers that download entire websites in order to find email addresses that they can add to spam mailing lists. I prefer hearing about as few get-rich-schemes and porn sites as possible.”
  • wikipedia on email harvesting: “…the more common use of special software, known as “harvesting bots” or “harvesters”, which scan Web pages … to obtain e-mail addresses.”
  • wikipedia on anti-spam techniques: “if the spammers can’t learn of the address, the address is less likely to be sent spam. …. One way that spammers obtain email addresses to target is to trawl the Web and Usenet for strings which look like addresses, using a spambot. Contact forms and address munging are good ways to prevent [harvesting] …. Posting anonymously, or with a fake name and address, is one way to avoid “address harvesting” … Users who want to receive legitimate email regarding their posts or Web sites can alter their addresses so humans can figure out but spammers cannot. For instance, might post as, or display his email address as an image instead of text.”