Obfuscating your email addresses is pointless

I’m with Cory Doctorow here: Keeping an email address secret won’t hide it from spambots.

When I had to change email addresses a couple of years back, I considered not posting the new address on my site, to keep the spambots from harvesting it. (My previous email address had been published before there even was spam, so keeping it secret from spammers had never been an option.)

In the end, though, I decided—just as Cory has—that there’s no point. The benefits are very small (the spammers will get your email address anyway), and the costs are significant (all your correspondants have to go through extra work to track down and de-obfuscate your email address).

In the end I did make one concession to the spambots. My email address is no longer in the footer of every page, the way it used to be. Now it just appears in my “contact” page (linked to from the sidebar). That hides it from the very most lazy spambots (which seems to be a large fraction of them). But my email address is right there as a clickable mailto link. Not obfuscated. Not presented as an image. Not hidden behind a contact form.

If you’ve got something you want to say to me, send me some email!

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