Dressing Up a Naked E-mail Address

10 March 2011
Spongebob and naked e-mail addresses
Hello, spam bots! Err... Spongebob... 
(photo credit: Julia of MySpace)
If you're fond of posting your naked e-mail address everywhere, chances are you're wooing spammers and spam bots to the highest level.

A naked e-mail address (for instance yourname@gmail.com) is a bare-all piece of contact information. It is (1) completely seen, (2)  easily copied and (3) usually clickable.

While posting this kind of detail will gain you instant connectivity points with an audience, it comes with a price: a flood of spam, some identity thievery or both. The whole circus just smells too sweet and inviting for human spammers and automated spam bots.

How in the world then do you keep your information safe without ex-communicating yourself from your readers? Simple: You dress it up. I've seen a number of veteran bloggers employ the following dress-up methods:

1. Make your address unclickable. Replace the "@" symbol with "(at)".

yourname (at) gmail.com

2. Make your address less visible by linking your address with an anchor text.

Contact teecup 
This method is no longer fail-safe, because spam bots are getting smarter, experts warned. For information purposes though, here's what you can do:
  • HTML: <a href= "mailto:yourname@gmail.com" >teecup or your chosen anchor text</a>
  • Blogger: Highlight your chosen anchor text, click Link and enter your e-mail address.
  • Word and most forums: Select your chosen anchor text, press  the hyperlink button and enter your e-mail address.

3. Make your address less visible by using a Java button.
Java button for hiding naked e-mails

The average computer user need not be a whiz with coding. The best resource I've encountered  so far is Website Helpers by Michael Bluejay. A lot of commercial websites can also help you out when it comes to creating your Java button or generating codes for it. The procedure is pretty painless and oftentimes consists of three easy steps:
  • Register an account for free
  • Create a button or customize an existing template
  • Copy and paste the HTML code to your web page, blog site or e-mail signature

4. Don't disclose your e-mail address at all. Instead, use a contact form and enable the captcha.  

I like to use the contact form because it allows my readers to contact me without me having to actually reveal my contact information. A lot of people find it impersonal though, because based on experience, businesses that use the contact form rarely respond to a message.

A challenge response test, the captcha asks you to enter a combination of letters or numbers before your message can be sent. The captcha is some sort of safety net against the e-mail harvesting spam bots (but not human spammers).  It is based on the assumption that only a human being can make sense of the vaguely spelt (or spoken) words, letter or numbers.

Don't be afraid if you don't know anything about coding and programming. I'm not a techie guru myself but I was able to add a Teecup Limited Contact Form today for free with the help of 123! Below is a preview of my brand-new contact form:

contact form for hiding naked e-mails

For creating contact forms, the sites of interest for newbies include 123 Contact Form (by far my favorite), EmailMeForm and Freedback. There are a dozen more or probably even a thousand more places that would turn up after a Google Search. I like the three because of the simple interface and speedy registration process.
    So, how do you dress up a naked e-mail address? For starters, you can take your pick from four methods: "at" word, anchor text, a Java button or a captcha-enabled contact page. The methods do not completely eliminate the problem of intrusion and identity theft from spammers and spam bots. Also, the methods may not be user-friendly. Then again, they do stand as relatively safer alternatives to using just a naked e-mail address.
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