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  1. #1
    SitePoint Zealot
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    What techniques do you use to prevent SPAM

    I am interested to hear from two different types of groups:

    1/ General Email Users .. probably everybody
    * Do you have different email addresses for different purposes?
    * Do you use Spam Prevention Software?
    * etc

    2/ Web Designers/Developers
    * How do you limit exposure of email addresses to spam bots?
    * Do you use unicode?
    * Do you use Server Side forms?
    * etc

    I fall into both groups .... I am currently using Cloudmark for my email addresses with very good success. I used to get about 200 SPAM a day in each of my 7 email addresses but since I have added cloudmark to Microsoft Outlook I rarely get more than about 5 new SPAM.

    On my websites I usually use PHP forms with captcha. This seems to be fairly decent. But I dont like having to make users of my websites fill out image verification all of the time. I also have a special email address for my domain registrations as I think al lot of my email comes from public whois records.

  2. #2
    The I's for intelligent silver trophy iTechno's Avatar
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    1/ Yes, I have a couple of e-mails, no I don't use Spam Prevention Software, Google isn't too bad with doing that itself.

    2/ The main method that I have used is that I don't post my e-mail address on sites ie. me@e-mail.com instead right me [at] e-mail.com.

  3. #3
    SitePoint Wizard trampt's Avatar
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    I have one email address that only my friends and family have access to. Then I have about 40+ email forwards that I setup when a particular site requires an email address.

    For example:
    amazon@
    sitepoint@
    apple@

    Which then all forward to my private email address. For my site I use a form and setup and email address contactform@ and I filter out anything sent to that address that isn't coming from my server. I have yet to receive spam that actually hits my inbox with Apple Mail usually filtering out any small amount I receive.

  4. #4
    SitePoint Wizard
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    I use just one address. I get tons of spam, but Apple Mail filters it so that I never actually have to see it.

    I have had similar success with Opera M2 and Thunderbird, although they seemed to take longer to train. I think I labeled about twenty emails in Apple Mail as junk and I have yet to have an issues with spam in my inbox or real mail getting categorised as junk.

  5. #5
    SitePoint Wizard dreamscape's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by charmedlover
    I think I labeled about twenty emails in Apple Mail as junk and I have yet to have an issues with spam in my inbox or real mail getting categorised as junk.
    Really? You must not actually get much spam then, or just must get the same spam over and over.

    I had Apple mail in training for over a year, and have had it out of training for over a month, and it still sometimes flags valid emails as junk and junk as valid. The junk being flagged as valid is far more of a problem than the other way around, which is better than having a lot of valid being flagged a junk, but much of the spam being flagged as valid is spam that is all very similar. I keep marking it as junk though, but after awhile you'd think that Mail.app would get the picture.
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  6. #6
    SitePoint Guru MG315's Avatar
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    When putting emails on sites, I try to remember to use this: http://www.safeemail.org/start.php

    As far as filtering the spam I already get, I gave up on apple mail's filters and just send everything to my gmail account. Some does get through but gmail's filters work WAY better than apple mail's

  7. #7
    SitePoint Guru wii's Avatar
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    1. I have several mail accounts, some totally private, some public which I use if I have to register somewhere, Sitepoint and other places.

    2. I never show my mail address online, I always hide behind a contact form, sometimes even with image verification to avoid spammers.

    I rarely have problems with spammers.

  8. #8
    SitePoint Wizard silver trophybronze trophy Stormrider's Avatar
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    I only have 1 email account really, but lots of addresses that forward to it. I use the whole amazon@, sitepoint@ etc email addresses.

    As for designing, I hide the email behind a contact form as well usually, for myself anyway.

    I used the spamarrest 30 day trial, and it cut my spam to 0. I didnt get any at all throughout the whole trial period. Im seriously considering subscribing.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by MG315
    When putting emails on sites, I try to remember to use this: http://www.safeemail.org/start.php
    Does that seem to work OK? I thought a lot of spam bots would be able to decipher that.. maybe I'm wrong?

    For email addresses on my sites I normally use javascript, which when viewed with a javascript enabled browser it displays the email address as it should look normally on the page but, does not show the email address at all in the source code. When javascript is disabled it just diplay's 'name [at] domain d-o-t com'. Works great and never received one bit of spam.

    If anyone wants the code for that just let me know or feel free to grab it from my contact page.

  10. #10
    Non-Member the baldchemist's Avatar
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    it's interesting. I'm happy to get mail that takes my hard-ons into consideration. if Viagra stopped marketing like this I could afford to buy some. I reckon half their budget goes on payments per click.
    I get twice a week about seventy and with Google it takes me 30 seconds to piss 'em off. So no real problems. I guess living in Thailand spammers think I can get stuff much cheaper.

  11. #11
    SitePoint Evangelist dev_cw's Avatar
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    I) In the good ol days I had a catch-all account and would create different names for each place where I register (sitepoint@ wherever@). However the catch-all is not a good way to go now days so I have been creating aliases and shutting down the catch-all. I am now considering having a Gmail account just for general use.

    2) As a developer we post a generic email on our site (info@ or something like that), every once in a while, if we start getting lots of SPAM we will change it. I will only use my official email when responding or communicating with clients.

    3) as a server admin I would rather just let all the SPAM go through since that would use less server resources. I see my server load go sky high whenever a flood o' SPAM comes in. I hate SPAM

    A huge amount of SPAM goes to the email used for registering the domains, the one that shows on the whois record specially with the older domains.

    SPAM is a nightmare, I have been in business with the same e-mail since 98 and I get literally tons of SPAM (I know I should change the email address but I am too lazy to send out notices to all my clients), it has gotten to the point that I am trashing anything that I don't recognize as being legit just by looking at the subject and the sender, I almost never open e-mail I don't recognize...I wonder how many business opportunities I missed because of this?
    "You can just hang outside in the sun all day tossing a ball around...
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  12. #12
    Mazel tov! bronze trophy kohoutek's Avatar
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    I only have two active email accounts that I frequently use.

    I do not use Yahoo!, Gmail and all the other email apps. The only one I use is Mac Mail. It does quite a good job at filtering my spam. The downside is, I'm a designer, so I receive tons of emails of unknown senders, naturally. They also land in my junk mailbox. So, I have no choice but to skim through my spam folder at least twice a day. So, Mac Mail's native spam filters and a little app called SpamSieve help me minimize the amount of time I spend with sorting my spam. For websites, I use contact forms to prevent extreme spamming.
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  13. #13
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    if Viagra stopped marketing like this I could afford to buy some. I reckon half their budget goes on payments per click.
    Yeah, but I think a lot of these pills in Spams are counterfeit and that's IMO the real problem with spam - the fraud and scams...

  14. #14
    SitePoint Wizard cranial-bore's Avatar
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    2a) Spam Bot Exposure
    I put text on the page using the someone [at] domain [dot] com style syntax. I then use Javascript to convert the string to a normal, clickable hyperlink for JS enabled users.
    You can see an example on my website below.
    I don't know how effective it is -- whether most spam bots can get past it anyway, but I assume it's better than nothing.

  15. #15
    SitePoint Evangelist superuser2's Avatar
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    The
    email [at] domain.com
    trick is old, spambots will catch on sooner or later, just like CAPTCHA.

    Whenever something that gets popular enough and works, the spambot programmers will catch on. Posting your trick in a 'Hot Topic' on a site with an alexa rank in the 200's is not a good idea, because once the spambots know what your trick is they will adapt their software.

    But still, something is better than nothing.
    --superuser2

  16. #16
    SitePoint Guru siphilp's Avatar
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    I have an email address for my friends and family. An email address for recruitment agencies (when looking for jobs), hotmail/google for registrations, and a contact form on my website.

    It's quite funny that it's only EVER my recruitment email that gets spammed and i know i have never posted it anywhere online for a "spambot" to grab it. If i keep getting the same spam messages in my spam folder i submit it to www.spamcop.net .

  17. #17
    Avid Logophile silver trophy
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    There seems to be a consistent set of answers here. And I, too, subscribe to a combination of those ideas.
    According to statistics SPAM continues to invade our email because it works. (Crime does pay?). I do not have a solution for this problem. But I think I may have found a way to battle the Phishing/Pharming epidemic.
    Whenever I get a message (from my bank, from the Nigerian widow who needs my help, from my stockbroker), against the general advice I click on the link.
    I then proceed to fill in the required information with bogus data. I hope to poison their product and kill their market.
    Just like drug dealers, as long as they have a market for the information they will continue. If a drug dealer starts distributing poisoned stuff he will be out of business quickly.
    Am I naive in believing this will help.
    I do respect the vast collection of knowledge and experience gathered here on SitePoint and would like to hear your responses.
    Don't be yourself. Be someone a little nicer. -Mignon McLaughlin, journalist and author (1913-1983)


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  18. #18
    SitePoint Addict sparkdigital's Avatar
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    Someone suggested using Email Riddler from Dynamic Drive - it's supposed to hide the email address from spam bots but when clicking on the link (i.e. Click here to email us) a normal outlook express window opens. Handy becuase sometimes you just want to send an email rather than filling in email forms.

    http://www.dynamicdrive.com/emailriddler/

    I haven't used it long enough to notice the difference but would be interested to hear if anyone else has used this.

    Cheers,

    Konrad

  19. #19
    ☆★☆★ silver trophy vgarcia's Avatar
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    I run my mail through Gmail so that does my spam filtering. I also find that not plastering your email address on everything is a good idea

    Mail.app seems pretty good at catching most unwanted spam that my wife receives.

  20. #20
    Pandora Tipem's Avatar
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    I've seen a few people start putting their email addresses in images. This might not be a bad idea. But, bots might catch on to this. What somebody needs to do is hire a bunch of donthavealife's and they sit around and add emails and rules to their spam filters all day.
    Tipem no fancy sig, yup
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  21. #21
    <code></code><WoW></WoW> nukeemusn's Avatar
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    I think Joh C. Dvorak said it best in the TWiT podcast when he said that the only way we can eliminate SPAM is to get everyone around us to stop buying pharmaciticals, stocks, and porn from spammers! So tell your in-laws (well, in my case it's my in-laws) to stop opening, replying to, and buying the stuff, and maybe by the year 3000 we won't be seeng spam anymore.

    Who the heck buys madicine and stocks from random people they don't know? Someone has to be doing it. After all, the spammers aren't doing it for free, you know. Some'ne's paying the bills...
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  22. #22
    ☆★☆★ silver trophy vgarcia's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by nukeemusn
    I think Joh C. Dvorak said it best in the TWiT podcast when he said that the only way we can eliminate SPAM is to get everyone around us to stop buying pharmaciticals, stocks, and porn from spammers! So tell your in-laws (well, in my case it's my in-laws) to stop opening, replying to, and buying the stuff, and maybe by the year 3000 we won't be seeng spam anymore.

    Who the heck buys madicine and stocks from random people they don't know? Someone has to be doing it. After all, the spammers aren't doing it for free, you know. Some'ne's paying the bills...
    Most people don't, but when you're sending the same email to 20 million people at near zero cost to you and at least some of them reply, the spammer wins again. Even a .001% conversion rate is 200 customers; at $50 a pop that's $10,000 for sending some emails and filling some orders.

  23. #23
    Keep Moving Forward gold trophysilver trophybronze trophy
    Shaun(OfTheDead)'s Avatar
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    I think I posted this somewhere recently but anyway...


    I have a personal e-mail address... hotmail --
    Only friends and family (and a few co-workers) get this one.

    Then I have a work address... which is an account from my main site --
    Only clients get this one (it's on my call cards too).

    Then I have what I call my goatdoll account... graffiti.net --
    This is the one I use to sign up for stuff and to activate accounts and that other crap. This is the one that gets spammed mercilessly. Every once in a while I just sign in and click "delete all". Good to go.

    Finally I have admin addresses for sites I've done. --
    How I protect these is actually to use some of the techniques described on an article somewhere here on SitePoint. Basically you let javascript write the <a href="mailto: > tags for you, so that they're invisible to spam-bots. I also use a contact form. I receive a fair amount of spam from these addresses, but Thunderbird filters them out pretty well.

  24. #24
    Avid Logophile silver trophy
    ParkinT's Avatar
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    As the number of email accounts we (collectively as human beings) secure, what will prevent spammers from simply generating a list of all (practically) available combinations of characters - targeted to the major ISPs?
    Then, even using a 'special' account only for friends and family will not defend us.
    And, since the bad guys are staying ahead of the black list/white list spam filters that offers littel promise.
    Any thoughts?

  25. #25
    Serial Publisher silver trophy aspen's Avatar
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    I use spamassassin and mailscanner on my servers, a suped up combination of the two. It works very good.

    Blogs & Forums of course have captchas.

    On one of my servers I completely ban russia, china, and korea at the firewall. Thats 90% of spam right there.

    For simple custom php forms I do two things.

    1. Check the referrer, if it isn't my own site, spam.
    2. Check the button variable. Most spam scripts try to replicate your form variables, but they forget about the submit button. So checking if the button variable matches what it should helps.

    I think Joh C. Dvorak said it best in the TWiT podcast when he said that the only way we can eliminate SPAM is to get everyone around us to stop buying pharmaciticals, stocks, and porn from spammers!
    Blasphemy! When it comes to your health, your house, or your wang... why wouldn't you trust barely literate anonymous Internet spam?
    Chris Beasley - I publish content and ecommerce sites.
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