In the years since the birth of the internet, one problem persists despite a multitude of efforts to kill it. Spam. Everyone hates it. Every email platform does what it can to minimize it, but ask anyone, and they’ll tell you that they continue to receive too much spam. This, in part, is because people provide information about themselves without really thinking about it. You don’t have to opt-in to a mail list to get on someone’s spam list. They have their ways of finding you, even without your direct permission.
The best defense you have as a user to reduce the amount of spam making its way to your email is hiding your email. It’s a concept that isn’t widely known, but it works. Lisa Mitchell from Semalt provides 5 compelling ways to do it.
- Hide it behind a test
Scr.im is a free tool that creates a unique URL for your email address. Type in your email address, and scr.im creates an URL as well as coding for you to use on social media, in HTML documents, and in forums. This avoids people copying your text email and using it as they please. If someone wants to email you, they click on the URL that takes them to a test they have to pass before getting your actual email address. It’s a test that bots and automated scripts cannot pass.
- Hide it in an image
Tools like E-mail Icon Generator produce images that include your email address as a CAPTCHA image. It also hosts the image and, like scr.im, provides coding for use in a variety of locations.
- Scramble it
Anyone can implement this low tech method of hiding your email address from bots. It simply involves typing out each element of your address as a word. So, for example, firstname.lastname@example.org looks like this when it’s scrambled – info at abc dot com. There isn’t an automated process that will recognize that as an email address.
- Encode it
Mailto Encoder is an example of a tool that can perform this solution for you. When you type in your email address, the tool decodes it, creating a series of numbers, letters, and symbols that have no apparent logic. Spambots will glide right past it.
- Don’t share it
The last solution is the easiest. Just don’t give out your email address. Or some people set up email addresses that are just for spam. A third option that completely avoids sharing an email address is to use a tool like WHSPR! that lets you create a temporary form that will forward messages to your email. This is another method that utilizes CAPTCHA. In order to send the message, the sender has to pass a CAPTCHA test.
Email is the preferred method of communication for many people and entities these days. Whether it’s communicating with friends and family, who live far away, contacting prospective employers or employees, or making sure you know about all the sales going on at your favorite store, you need an email address. You don’t need or want spam. Try any of the methods above to limit the amount of unwanted messages showing up in your inbox or spam folder.