As many of you know, I have been fighting spam for a long time. We all get it
and we all hate it. How does spam "happened"? Well basically there exist programs
out there that look for emails on the internet. These programs are sometimes
called robots, engines, ferrets, and others. The programmer instructs them to visit a page and all
of its links... and then any links off of any of those pages... and links from those
pages. Get the picture? The programs bounce from page to page reading the text
and raw HTML. Most are set to record anything to do with the '@' sign, ie emails.
This is how a lot of spammers get your email. Now, before you view robots/ferrets
negatively, I have to tell you search engines use them to find webpages.
Yahoo, Lycos, Hotbot, and all the other search sites have these programs surfing and indexing
webpages based on what's written on them. So, there is a good use for these programs.
I chose to post emails on my webpages because it allowed friends, family, and myself
access to these whenever we needed them. In the "old" days of the internet (5 years
ago, hehe) I used to post a warning that the emails listed were not for spamming purposes and
were private. This seemed to work early on in a community just starting to really grow.
I had read articles that most spammers had programmed their robots to skip pages
with any mention of spam on it. It is my belief that they did not want to anger anyone. Plus,
anonymous emails were hard to come by back then, which made it harder for a spammer to hide. Then the internet exploded and
the non-geeks started using it, such as sales and marketing people. Not everyone
in sales is a lowlife, but there are a fair share of them. Suddenly, I had several
complaining that they were getting spam and my page was the only one that listed
their email. So, I put an 'x' in front of all my emails. This way spam was sent to
email@example.com, rather than firstname.lastname@example.org. This worked great... for awhile. Late last
year I talked to someone who stated that web ferrets (those programs) were now
being programmed to skip any ambiguous characters in front of emails (like x, q, etc.).
So I looked for a new way to hide my emails (while letting me use them). I considered
printing them in a .gif file and then displaying it. But that took too long to load
and was hard to update. I then found a technique where the email is converted to hex code.
Hex is a 16 digit number system and code used by computers. What may look like Greek to you (and the robots), is
easily read and converted by browsers. I decided to try it. I did an experiment
by setting up 2 emails, one plain, and one coded. It made a difference, but spam was
still getting through, which meant there were some real sophisticated robots out
there reading the hex code.
However, I am writing to announce that I have found a way... I HAVE WON!!!