Web design: how to cut down on email spam

February 25, 2005 by Diane Vigil in

The proliferation of email spam (email containing advertisements that you didn't sign up for) has reached ridiculous proportions, causing annoyance and burying your real email within piles of strange offers. Here are a few tips for cutting down on the spam:

(1) Do not display email addresses on your website. That's right. Spammers use automated programs to pick up email addresses on web pages — and will sell them to their fellow spammers ("Buy 1,000,000 pre-qualified email addresses from people wanting to hear about your product!) That means that once your email address has been live on your site for a few months, it's a "gonner" in terms of being protected from spammers' lists. Of course, you'll need to provide a way for potential customers to reach you via your website. See #4 below.

(2) Do not use generic email addresses. Even if your email address is not displayed on your website, addresses like info@site.com and webmaster@site.com are so common as to be almost a given. Choose something else.

(3) Do not use a "catchall" email address. Most web hosts allow email addressed to anyword@yoursite.com to be delivered to the main web hosting account email address — you. This is called a "catchall" email address. In the old days, this was a neat feature. Today, spammers sometimes guess, and sometimes employ dictionary spam attacks (that is, appending words from a dictionary to your website address: apple@yoursite.com, betty@yoursite.com, etc.), barraging you with unwanted megatonnage of useless email, so disabling the catchall is extremely helpful. Simply setting up specific email addresses (you@yoursite.com, joe@yoursite.com, etc.) and disabling the catchall can dramatically cut down on the spam that gets through to you.

Email Form (4) Use protected forms for email. Ask your web designer to use email forms instead of plain email addresses. That's not enough, though: most email forms display an error message (which includes the webmaster email address) if the form is not filled out when the "Send" button is pushed, and spammers have found a way to trigger this without actually visiting your website in person. Set up your email form so that it displays a different message when the form hasn't been filled out. For example, visit our Contact form and press the "Send Message" button without filling out the form.

(5) Employ spam filters. Of course, if you get a lot of spam, you may benefit from using spam filters on your website email box or on your computer. These can be helpful in sorting spam into a separate folder … but, of course, you're combatting the spam you did receive rather than battling it before it reaches you.

Happy spamless Inbox!

6 Comments for "Web design: how to cut down on email spam"

  1. Amanita.net » Blog Archive » E-mail Consolidation

    […] Callwave.com using callwave at my domain name, etc. Originally, this was not a bad idea. Several sources refer to this as a practice that was effective in the […]

  2. robert graves

    Thank you for any help you can give,it is getting aggervating to say the least. Is it filling up my computer with junk? Peggy Graves

  3. Diane Vigil

    If you've downloaded spam to your computer, just go ahead and delete it.

  4. Hursh Shah

    Nice share..

    It was a pleasure reading this post, all the points are explained so well.

    Being smart and using these points can actually save us from the spam emails.

  5. UsaWebToday

    Hi, well the emails spam is driving me crazy I will try your tips if I can stop this spam!!

  6. Sharon

    Good tips! I hate spam.

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