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Email Masking on an Ecommerce Site

is this a bad idea?

   
6:53 pm on Jan 20, 2007 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member



I'm looking for opinions here.

I have an ecommerce store selling niche products. I have a page with contact information for my customers, and I am getting flooded with spam. I would like to change my email address from name@website.com to name@nospam-website.com , with a note to remove "nospam-" from the address.

I have no worries about doing this for a personal website, but is this a bad idea for a commercial website? Is it considered unprofessional? Would it cause distrust or make (non-technical) customers confused?

Thanks!

7:26 pm on Jan 20, 2007 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member



I understand what you are going through, but I think that would just confuse some customers. There are other methods of making the e-mail address viable for a customer, and not able to be scraped by a bot. I've seen some sample scripts for this, but unfortunately I cannot remember where right now.

I've just accepted the e-mails will get targeted one way or the other. I've now started getting spam on my order confirmation e-mail address, and it's not listed anywhere. I just assume someone that ordered from me has opened a bad e-mail, or a spammer just ran a list of common e-com type names for the mailing address.

8:25 pm on Jan 20, 2007 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member



I'd avoid doing it myself, since it's not what people expect. If spam is really a problem I'd remove all email addresses and just have a contact form, with the email address it sends to held server-side.

Ideally of course you want to display a normal email address as well; I'm sure it can't be that hard to confuse a bot if it's a real problem - split your email address into a few parts held in javascript variables and concatenate them in a document.write, and I'd imagine you'd fool them.

8:36 pm on Jan 20, 2007 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member rocknbil is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



Well, it's probably too late now, the spiders have already got you in their system.

There are "obfuscators" out there to make it difficult for automated systems to grab your email address, but nothing stops it from being manually copied.

You don't lose a thing by not displaying your email address on a site. As long as there are easy methods of contacting you and you respond, there is no sacrifice in customer trust. Of primary importance is a physical address and a phone number.

A contact form is the way to go for email communications but be aware that spammers abuse these too, make sure it's set up correctly to avoid those types of attacks.

10:52 pm on Jan 20, 2007 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



I have seen some companies do this. They might even use a GIF. Have you thought maybe using a contact form to help cut down on the spam? That way, your email address will be hidden from the spammers.

-Corey

2:33 am on Jan 21, 2007 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member



Thank you, everybody. You confirmed what I was thinking.

I'd consider a form but I don't know anything about how to set one up. One thing I've tried hard to do is make my site fully accessible. It's in pure html with no javascripting. Are forms accessible to the blind?

6:55 am on Jan 21, 2007 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



Remember that some people absolutely refuse to use contact forms. I am one of them. I find it especially obnoxious when they make name, company name, telephone number and address *mandatory* elements.

The only way I would fill in a form is if it allowed me to specify a url to *my* form where they could respond.

The addresses that I publish on websites receive very little spam since I use a graphic to represent the mail address, wrapped in a A tag with a blank url, with a javascript onclick event handler to change it to a mailto url. To make it accessible to the blind you could always include a link to a sound file.

For resources on accessiblity for the blind, you might try the cnib site at cnib.ca

Yes, forms are accessible to the blind. They usually use jaws to read the page, and type/mouse as well as the sighted.

9:45 am on Jan 21, 2007 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member



Use a .gif .jpeg for display your e-mail address.
8:29 pm on Jan 21, 2007 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member rocknbil is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



Forms are accessible, most javascript you will see is not because of the way it's implemented. Javascript can be as accessible as anything else. Image - based email addresses will help (as already said) but does not prevent manual mining.

A properly constructed form is the **best** portal for a contact. A generic email has one major fault - it allows the customer to submit a query and allows them to eliminate important data vital to answering their questions. If you sell widgets in various sizes and the question is "are green widgets in stock?" you would have to ask "what size?" The initial submittor may not ever reply. Using a form allows you to make sure they provide sufficient information to fully answer their questions.

While it's true this is as abused as it is used - the benefits far outweigh the drawbacks.

8:00 am on Jan 24, 2007 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member



Use javascript to break it into pieces that the bots can't read:

<script language="javascript">document.write('<a href="mailto:name@web'+'site'+'.com">');</script>

2:30 pm on Jan 24, 2007 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member



The problem I have with javascript is that there are people who have it turned off (possibly without even knowing so) and there are older browsers that don't support it. I don't want to put up any hurdles that could lose me a potential customer.
2:55 pm on Jan 24, 2007 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



Using a form allows you to make sure they provide sufficient information to fully answer their questions.

Exactly!
I have seen people exchange several emails over days to relate the same questions/answers that one detailed form submission(with proper fields) and one response could have handled.

3:02 pm on Jan 24, 2007 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member



The problem I have with javascript is that there are people who have it turned off (possibly without even knowing so) and there are older browsers that don't support it. I don't want to put up any hurdles that could lose me a potential customer.

You could put an image of the addy in the noscript tag, and maybe have an obfusicated email address (ie name@nospam-website.com, remove nospam- to email) in the alt tag. That would cover all your bases in terms of accesibility, and only those with both javascript and images turned off would get the final fallback of the nospam one.

I would use a contact form as your main contact if you can though, and just use this as an alternative for people who don't like them.

5:28 am on Jan 25, 2007 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member



I haven't posted an email email address on a website since 1999. Use a contact form.