edit menu (http://baoc.org/wiki?title=Template:SiteMenu&action=edit)

How are Email Addresses Protected?

by Van Boughner

On the web today, custom software programs called robots continuously scan popular web sites. Often, a robot serves a useful function, such as checking link integrity or collecting data for search engines. However, some are spambots (http://www.turnstep.com/Spambot/avoidance.html) looking for email addresses. If your email address is on a public web page, it is vulnerable to collection by spammers which harvest it from mailto tags.

The mailto tags on baoc.org are generated by javascripts in the pages, which spambots don't execute. Javascripts are executed only by the browsers that people use to view web pages. The new way we're displaying links on the site is both convenient for human visitors and still currently considered safe from spambots.

Photo gallery image (click to enlarge)

In case you would like to see how this works yourself, hit the "Source" option in the "View" menu of your web browser when you are looking at this page. Look for the email address on this link to . That is what spambots see and the email address is not actually in the page's source text. It looks like this:

<script type="text/javascript">
writeContact("baoc", "baoc.org", "Van Boughner", "Van Boughner");

The javascript function called "writeContact" converts the member name and email address into a mailto tag inside the web browser only. Spambots don't (currently) execute these javascripts because they are graphical in nature, require a web browser, and would slow down their searching too much (there are lots of other javascripts in many web pages that aren't relevant to a spam bot's job.)

In a web browser where javascript is not enabled an additional special tag in the page comes into play. You don't get a convenient mailto link, but you at least get something a human can read. The @ sign in the email address is an img file, which spambots cannot tell from any other image. This is what is in the page source:

<noscript>Van Boughner (baoc<img src="/images/email_sign.gif"
align="absmiddle" width="10" height="16" />baoc.org)</noscript>

And this is what it looks like in a browser: Van Boughner (baocbaoc.org)

Incidentally, if you are still uncomfortable about this, we can create an email address for you on baoc.org (such as yourname@baoc.org) that will appear on the web site instead, and secretly forward all your email from that to your real email address. That would keep your real email address from appearing at all, even to the human visitors.

If you are editing this web site, here are examples of how to use the email tag within wiki text to conveniently get the protection discussed above.