are mailto: links safe from email crawlers?

Discussion in 'Web Design and Development' started by sir42, Dec 25, 2007.

  1. sir42 macrumors 6502

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    Sep 16, 2003
    Location:
    NY, NY
    #1
    I recently purchased a domain for my new business and I'm creating a website for the business using iWeb. I want to post mailto: links on my website using the iWeb inspector so that potential clients can email me. However, I'm worried about those mailto: links being picked up by email crawlers and having my new email address overrun with spam. Is that a legitiamte concern? If so, what can I do to protect my mailto links from being picked up by crawlers?

    thanks!
     
  2. Eraserhead macrumors G4

    Eraserhead

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    Nov 3, 2005
    Location:
    UK
    #2
    They aren't safe. I get loads of spam through mine.
     
  3. thejadedmonkey macrumors 604

    thejadedmonkey

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    May 28, 2005
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    Pa
    #3
    This is what I use when I need to include an email link on a website. It works quite well too!
     
  4. sir42 thread starter macrumors 6502

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    Sep 16, 2003
    Location:
    NY, NY
    #4
    Something else just occurred to me. I know a lot of people use web based email programs and thus a mailto: email on my website would be useless for them. Is there a way to safely list my email address on the website in a way that won't be harvested by email crawlers?
     
  5. angelwatt Moderator emeritus

    angelwatt

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    Aug 16, 2005
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    USA
    #5
    Generally people use somewhat cryptic versions, like "name [AT] company [DOT] com." There's also JavaScript options, but they completely fail for legitimate visitors who have JavaScript turned off. You could also use an image of your email, but this breaks for blind visitors, and thus usability.

    What I use is a form on my site that people fill out and PHP on the back end sends me the email. This completely hides your email address and still lets people contact you.

    But really, nothing will help completely. They'll eventually get your email address so it's left to your spam blockers to take care of things. What it comes down to is, the web is not for the anonymous.
     
  6. sir42 thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #6
    I was thinking that may be the way to go. What's the best way to integrate a form into my iWeb site?
     
  7. Moof1904 macrumors 65816

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    May 20, 2004
    #7
    You can put your email address on your web site as a graphic that looks just like text. That might slow the crawlers down a bit.
     
  8. chaos86 macrumors 65816

    chaos86

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    Sep 11, 2003
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    127.0.0.1
    #8
    i heard that using a form that sends the results to your email is terrible but theres a great fix that was popularized by Steve Gibson. You add a hidden field called email, or name, or subject, then get the software that turns the form submission into email to ignore any email with those fields filled in. humans can't see them so they don't fill them. bots do.
     
  9. angelwatt Moderator emeritus

    angelwatt

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    Aug 16, 2005
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    USA
    #9
    Yes, there are a number of solutions to keep scripts from sending spam in the form. Image CAPTCHA is popular, I use text CAPTCHA myself. Though of course none of them are perfect as a person can still send you spam on their own, but these other techniques will certainly reduce the number by a lot. I get none on mine.

    P.S. I don't use iWeb so don't know how you would setup a PHP contact form.
     
  10. sir42 thread starter macrumors 6502

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    Sep 16, 2003
    Location:
    NY, NY
    #10
    I just found this code for a contact form. I noticed that I have to enter my email address into this code. Will it be sufficient to keep web crawlers away?


    <form action="mailto:youremail@yourdomain.com?subject=New Contact" method="post" enctype="text/plain">
    <table><tr><td>
    First Name: <INPUT NAME="First Name" TYPE="text" VALUE="First Name" SIZE=20><BR>
    Last Name: <INPUT NAME="Last Name" TYPE="text" VALUE="Last Name" SIZE=20><BR>
    Email: <INPUT NAME="Email" TYPE="text" VALUE="Email" SIZE=20><BR>
    Submit: <INPUT NAME="Submit" TYPE="submit" VALUE="Submit">

    </td></tr>
    <tr><td align=center>
    <INPUT TYPE="submit" value="submit" style="color: #ffffff; background-color: #000000">
    </td></tr></table>
    </FORM>
     
  11. angelwatt Moderator emeritus

    angelwatt

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    Aug 16, 2005
    Location:
    USA
    #11
    It would keep more away, but web crawler scripts could easily be written to handle this situation as well. I'd combine a few techniques for best results, like using this along with the above linked method of using a text to ascii conversion on some of the code (i.e., just convert the email part of the action attribute). Still not 100%, but closer. The form submission technique is the best I've seen, but still has problems.

    Depending on the size of your site and its popularity this should be good enough. Sites like MySpace and Google have the hard time because people are writing scripts just for their sites, whereas very few script kiddies will likely write a script to crawl one specific smaller site. Thankfully. :cool:
     
  12. sir42 thread starter macrumors 6502

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    Sep 16, 2003
    Location:
    NY, NY
    #12
    Brilliant, thank you. I'll go ahead and use the form with the ascii conversion (when I figure that bit out).

    One more question, is there a slightly better code for the form that I can use? I don't need anything fancy, but I noticed on this code that the form doesn't even include a message section.
     
  13. ::Lisa:: macrumors 6502a

    ::Lisa::

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    Location:
    Nottingham, UK
    #13
    I use php as angelwatt stated and haven't had a single spam email
     
  14. angelwatt Moderator emeritus

    angelwatt

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    Aug 16, 2005
    Location:
    USA
    #14
    Yeah, that code looks like it's for subscribing to a newsletter. Here's a slimmed down version of my form on my site that includes name, email, subject, and message.

    HTML:
    <form action="mailto:youremail@yourdomain.com?subject=Your Subject" method="post" enctype="text/plain">
    <p><label for="name">Name: </label>
    <input id="name" name="name" type="text" /></p>
    <p><label for="emailAddy">Email: </label>
    <input id="emailAddy" name="emailAddy" type="text" /></p>
    <p><label for="subject">Subject: </label>
    <input id="subject" name="subject" type="text" /></p>
    <p><label for="msg">Message: </label>
    <textarea id="msg" name="msg" cols="45" rows="7"></textarea></p>
    <p><input id="submit" name="submit"
     type="submit" value="Send Feedback" /></p>
    </form>
    You can also use list items (li) rather than paragraphs and style them with CSS in whatever way you like.
     
  15. Dimwhit macrumors 68000

    Dimwhit

    Joined:
    Apr 10, 2007
    #16
    I fairly easy-to-use PHP contact form script will do want you want. Keeps away the crawlers and keeps your address safe. I don't get any spam because of it, whereas when I used to have my email address on our site, I got a TON of spam.
     
  16. tersono macrumors 68000

    tersono

    Joined:
    Jan 18, 2005
    Location:
    UK
    #17
    Amen to that.... Whatever method you use, it's never going to be 100% spam-proof, but obfuscation reduces the chances of a 'bot collecting the address by a significant amount. There's a number of online sites offering the service - even a Dashboard widget (called 'The Obfuscator' I don't have a URL, but google will probably turn it up). Stick to the HTML obfuscation, though - that way you don't exclude people who have javascript turned off.

    As another poster mentioned, a php response form is also a good option, but one that tends to put some people off. I personally use a mixture of both methods on most sites I design, and have few spam-related problems on these addresses.
     
  17. sir42 thread starter macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Sep 16, 2003
    Location:
    NY, NY
    #18
    I just downloaded The Obfuscator widget from the Apple website and it easily turned my email into a bunch of funky characters.

    I went ahead and pasted those funky characters into an HTML Snippet box in iWeb and my email address was displayed in the page I was working on.

    One quick question though, what code would I have to add to the HTML Snippet box to adjust the font of the email address that is displayed? I'd like to have it match the rest of the page. I'm using Futura (Medium) 14 pt.
     

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