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Re: Accessible "munging" of e-mail addresses on web sites

From: Matthew Smith <matt@kbc.net.au>
Date: Mon, 14 Feb 2005 10:48:50 +1030
Message-ID: <420FEE6A.7020807@kbc.net.au>
To: WAI Interest Group <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>

I wrote:
>> I would be interested in any views on "munging" (disguising) e-mail 
>> addresses on web sites to prevent their being harvested by spammers 
>> (senders of unsolicited bulk e-mail).

Lynn Alford replied:
> What I have on my site is in a style sheet
> .noshow { display: none;}
> And on the page is
> Send mail <a 
> href="mailto:lynn.alford@deletethis.gmail.com">lynn.alford@<span 
> class="noshow">deletethis.</span>gmail.com</a>.

Thanks for the suggestion Lynn.

The only problem that I can see with this technique is that it will 
present the "munged" address to user agents that do not process style 
sheets.  Whilst this includes harvester user agents, to which we want to 
present "munged" data, it will also present the corrupted form to user 
agents such as Lynx and indeed any agent that has CSS turned off or that 
substitutes its own styling.

This issue has me banging my head against the wall (speaking 
metaphorically - at the moment); whatever technique we use to obscure 
the data from those we don't want to read it, we always seem to do so 
for some that we do.

David W's point about what I'd term "intelligent substitution" causing 
problems for those with learning difficulties was a concern already on 
my mind.  Humans can fail a Turing Test just as well as machines.

A knotty problem indeed.



Matthew Smith
Kadina Business Consultancy
South Australia
Received on Monday, 14 February 2005 00:18:57 UTC

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