Divine Aphasia

Email obfuscation is silly

February 28, 2008

If you’ve been around the internet recently, you’ve probably seen email addresses written like hamlet at elsinore dot lit, hamletNOSPAM@elsinore.lit, or something similar. Even worse, and even less accessible is the technique of converting emails to images via JavaScript or other such replacement techniques. The goal of all this obfuscation is to prevent malicious robots from scraping your email address and then spamming it mercilessly. This behavior strikes me as absurd. GMail has almost perfect spam filtering. I get about one spam message in my inbox per month, and I’ve never had ham marked as spam. GMail can’t have the only effective spam filtering solution. So people should just go back to making life easy for the bots and the humans, and let their spam filters worry about the spam. The bots will get your email in the long run, but Bayesian filtering has gotten to be pretty good. You’re just wasting everybody’s time, and you may be preventing people using screenreaders from understanding your email address.

Evan Silberman