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Spam, The Stuff You Love To Hate

by Lala C. Ballatan


We all get spam, and we all hate it. I always thought it would be great if I could open some spam, press a button on my computer and have a zillion volts of electricity shoot through the phone lines all the way to the computer that sent the spam and turn it into a smoldering pile of metal and plastic.

Before I made a few changes I used to get about 2,500 spam EVERY DAY! Now I only get about 250. Still a lot, but only 10% of what I used to get.

Learning how to do this for your own website, and your clients' websites, will make you a hero in everyone's eyes.

So let's talk about some of the things you can do to cut back on your spam.

One of the things I did to reduce my spam was to remove the "Catch All" setting on my web hosting company. A "Catch All" does just that. It catches all e-mail sent to your domain name, in my case that would be Anything@CreativeCauldron.com, which would include JeffColburn@CreativeCauldron.com, Giggles@CreativeCauldron.com, PinkElephants@CreativeCauldron.com and so on. Any e-mail address that ended with @CreativeCauldron.com was grabbed by my hosting company's e-mail program and sent to me.

When you remove the "Catch All," you need to tell the e-mail program what e-mail addresses to send to you. Many people just use Info@DomainName.com. You can add more whenever you want, but the more e-mail address you have the more spam you will receive. No longer receiving 2,250 e-mails a day really helped my sanity and reduced my stress levels.

To reduce my spam even more, I set up filters in my e-mail program. These filters automatically move any e-mails into the delete folder that meet the criteria I set. I can then quickly scan this folder to see if something wound up in there that I really want to read. Some of the words I set up in the filters include various body parts, mortgage, meds, and other similar words. I actually have over 50 words in the filters, with new ones being added all the time. Be careful what you use for filters though. Maybe you've been getting spam about growing some part of your body. You could put "grow" in a filter, but if you run a gardening website you may have people sending you legitimate e-mails about growing plants. With "grow" as one of your filters, then these legitimate e-mails would go to your delete folder. Along these same lines, many filters will prevent you from receiving ezines you have subscribed to, some kind of ads you want and more. So be careful.

You can also use forms on your website to let people contact you. Just create a form where the person can put in their name, e-mail address and a short message. They click on the Send button and off it goes. The software that harvests e-mail addresses can't get your e-mail address from the form. At least, not yet. To make your form more secure you can use NateMail at http://www.mindpalette.com/formprocessing/index.php to process your form. There's a free version and a paid ($15) version.

One very common way to keep your e-mail address from being harvested is to use JavaScript. The only problem with this technique is that some people have JavaScript turned off and won't be able to use this feature.

Here are three JavaScripts that you can use.

This is the simplest script you can use.

Replace YOUREMAIL with your e-mail address, like JeffColburn and replace YOURDOMAIN with your domain name, like CreativeCauldron. Then paste this JavaScript wherever you want your e-mail address to appear

The following JavaScript will create a text link.

The link will look like JeffColburn@CreativeCauldron.com

This next inline JavaScript lets you create your link text. Just replace Your Link Text with whatever you want displayed on your website. It can be, Click here to e-mail, My e-mail address, or whatever you want.

Your Link Text http://hotlib.com/articles/show.php?t=Spam,_The_Stuff_You_Love_To_Hate#

Tim Williams has an interesting solution to the e-mail harvesting problem by turning your e-mail address into ISO-Latin-1 code. Take a look at http://www.u.arizona.edu/~trw/spam/spam.htm

If you're feeling adventurous, go to http://www.tutorialized.com/tutorial/Protecting-Your-Users-Email-Addresses-with-PHP-and-MySQL/639 and you will find a tutorial that will tell you how to hide your e-mail address using PHP.

This should give you a good arsenal of weapons against having your e-mail address harvested, and cut down on your daily dose of spam. But remember to keep current with anti-spam techniques. Spamers will eventually find a way around these measures so you'll want to stay one step ahead of them.

About the Author

Jeff Colburn is a website designer and writer. His goal is to make the process of creating or updating your website easy and simple for you, while creating a website that meets all your needs and expectations. Jeff can also create all of the copy for your website.

Copyright Lala C. Ballatan - http://www.CreativeCauldron.com

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