Posted by Andrew VanderPloeg
Spam is the bane of the Internet.
We all find it annoying and practically, it eats up valuable productive time as we sort through spam boxes to ensure we don’t miss a valid email (known as a false-positive).
The good news is that there are simple things that we can do to help limit the amount of spam we receive. The bad news is that we find many churches, ministries and non-profits, not doing them.
One such simple thing that you can do to minimize the risk of having your email address added to a spam list is to not embed your email address in the HTML code of your website. For those of you who are technical laypeople, here’s an example of what you don’t want to do
Spammers use tools called "spiders", "spambots" or "email harvesters" that systematically go through sites on an automated basis and search for key characteristics of an email address (mostly looking for the "@" sign). They then grab those addresses and add them to a database at which point you are now a target of their spam mailings.
So, instead of embedding your email address on the page, do one of two things.
- If you really feel as though you want to show your address on your website, make a graphic (JPG or GIF) with the email address on it and put that on your site. Graphics can’t be read by these automated programs and so your email less available to spammers. It’s easy to tell if your email addresses are in embedded in HTML or not. If they are embedded in the HTML, you will be able to click and drag across the address and highlight the address (or portions of it). If it is in graphic format, when you try to highlight it, you will highlight the entire graphic, background and all.
- The best and most user-friendly way to deal with this problem though is to create a form where the user can select the recipient’s name in a drop-down menu, fill out the form-fields and then submit the form. This way, no one can see your email address, but they still have a way to contact you. See the AdvancedMinistry support page for an example of this.