We're all so worried about our e-mail addresses, aren't we? Look at my Contact Page: I use a jpeg image of my email address. Other people do things like "It's steve AT xyz DOT com" to "protect" themselves from email harvesters.
Let's inject a little reality here: Bots already can read the silly "typing tricks" people use, and image recognition is reality now: unless you obfuscate the image so that people have trouble reading it too, OCR can easily pick out an email. A scanner that wanted to do such work only has to look for "Contact" pages and could subvert any hiding attempt easily.
Does all this matter anyway? Probably not. Here's why: the most common method of harvesting email today is from viruses that take over computers and pick up email addresses from that person's mail. That's the primary source of addresses for spammers. Why scan thousands of web pages to pick up a few lousy addresses when you can get hundreds or even thousands of addresses from one computer? I'm not saying it's not done, but if you are already getting spam (and who isn't?) , your address is already out there, and it probably came from a compromised computer.
However, old habits die hard. I know it's silly and nearly pointless, but I still use an image on my contact page and probably will keep doing so. It even makes less sense for me because I've been on the Net since 1991 and in the "olden days" most of us thought nothing of posting our email in newsgroup posts - my email is stamped all over thousands and thousands of posts already.. and of course I'm also in the mailboxes of many thousands of people from 17 years of email correspondence - what are the chances that all of those people protect themselves with firewalls and anti-virus programs?
And of course I already get spam - hundreds of messages every day. My email address is "in the wild", probably bought and sold along with hundreds of thousands of others. Would it make any significant difference if I put it out in plain text here? Probably not..
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More Articles by Anthony Lawrence © 2012-07-13 Anthony Lawrence
The less accurate your mental model of a given process is, the less accurate is any guess you make about its malfunction. (Tony Lawrence)