Displaying your email

Choose your level of email in-security 

There is no 100% safety from email spam.

There is always a risk if you use your email address.

The question is what level of risk you are willing to accept.  


A summary of options for those who are concerned about their email address being copied/harvested  from this site and receiving more spam.

Here is some background info and choices.

Current examples of email addresses on the web:

Example1: Australian Government contact info. Note that email addresses are displayed plainly for everyone to see:


The Hong Kong Government does the same:  

In many cases the email address is displayed visibly and easy to copy and paste.


Governments show their emails in plain sight, because they find it simpler to filter the spam than make people manually enter the email address and thereby make mistakes etc...

There was a period in the early 1990's when spam was a concern and people worried about it a LOT.  I still remember the outrage I felt when I received my first unsolicited email in 1993. I complained to Yahoo about it.

Spam is now a standard background noise. Spam filters are good enough to filter out most of the junk.


For this site you have the following options about how your email is displayed: From simplest to most restricted:


1) simply use email links plainly visible e.g heiko.rudolph@gmail.com


2) use a link to hide the address e.g.  email Heiko

3) use of a link such as: e.g.  email Heiko  with some HTML code to hide the symbol "@" and 'dots' '.'  The idea is to make it harder for webcrawlers looking for email addresses in the format name@domain.com


The email address is disguised a little using code,  highlighted in red




 %40 stands for '@' and %2e for the dot '.'  

The webcrawlers don't see   Heiko.Rudolph@gmail.com instead they see Heiko.Rudolph%40gmail%2ecom


When someone clicks on the disguised link the browser translates the code above to something normal like:   Heiko.Rudolph@gmail.com    it also adds a subject line etc….


This method gives some protection but because it is a standard algorithm the protection is fairly limited because modern webcrawlers just compensate and read the disguised address anyway.



4) Address munging 

Address munging—e.g., changing "bob@example.com" to "bob at example dot com"—is a common technique to make harvesting email addresses more difficult.


Though relatively easy to overcome—see,  this Google search—it is still effective.


It is somewhat inconvenient to users, who must examine the address and manually correct it.


Because it uses a standard known method it is easy to design code to get around this method (as for #3 above)


5) Using images to display part or all of an email address is a more effective harvesting countermeasure. The processing required to automatically extract text from images is not economically viable for spammers (it takes too much effort).


The downside is: It is inconvenient for users, who must manually copy the email address and  carefully transcribe the address. 


example: the above email address is an image:  


It looks like a typed address but click on it and you will see that it is a picture and requires manual entry. This method is not used much by commercial or government bodies because:


·        People make mistakes copying it   

·        Users expect to click on an email address and start typing the email. 


If you use this method, you need to weigh the benefits against the costs of asking people to enter email addresses manually. People expect to click and write their emails.  Businesses who want to be easily contactable, don't use this method, they lose customers. It is simpler to filter the spam.

Governments don't use this method either, people make mistakes and it's annoying. There are better ways to deal with spam. For small websites such as this, it's a good option.  



6) The zero risk option: don't put your email on any website.

Will this guarantee you will never receive any spam ?

No, because email are also harvested in transit, i.e. while being sent. It's a much lower risk but still a risk.


You can try this experiment. Make a new email address. Tell no one.

Use it only to send email to friends.

Wait to see what spam you get and when.


You can try the same experiment and only send email to yourself. How long does it take to receive spam ?



If you are is interested in security and internet, here  is a good common-sense approach: 


Ships are safe in the harbour,

But that's not what ships are made for.

- anon.



 Spam filters work.