The fact that WordPress is the most used content management system on the internet makes it a prime target for e-mail spammers using automated e-mail harvesting tools to collect addresses. If you have noticed that your inbox is receiving considerably more spam than it has in the past, it could be that your e-mail address has been harvested.
There’s not much that can be done to prevent e-mail harvesting from occurring. But that does not mean you have to participate. There are a number of easy ways you can combat e-mail harvesting by simply not making your e-mail address available to automated harvesting software. Below are four suggestions.
1. Use a Contact Form
Rather than publishing your e-mail address on your WordPress site, consider making use of a contact form instead. A contact form appears as a regular page or post with a form that users can submit to get in touch with you. The form itself does not include your e-mail address.
The information from the form gets to you by way of the code attached to that form. When a user clicks the ‘Submit’ button, it triggers separate code on your server (code that is unavailable to e-mail harvesters) that takes the form information and sends it to your e-mail account.
2. Use an Image
A second suggestion is to create an image of your e-mail address using a drawing or graphics manipulation program. Resize the graphic so that it fits with the rest of the text on your site, then insert it in an appropriate place. The image appears as text to your visitors. To e-mail harvesters, it is just another image to be ignored.
If you use this method, be sure you do not add a ‘mailto:’ link to the image. E-mail harvesters can identify such links, thus rendering the use of an image moot.
3. Encode Your E-Mail Address
Free e-mail encoders available online can turn certain symbols of an e-mail address into HTML characters. For example, the @ symbol is recognized in HTML as @. Encoding your e-mail fools harvesting programs without affecting web browser display. Your visitors will still see your e-mail address as normal text.
4. Use Throwaway Addresses
Some WordPress users avoid all the technical tricks and simply rely on throwaway e-mail addresses from free, popular services. For example, you could get a Gmail address and use it to start with. At whatever point your inbox starts being overwhelmed by spam, you simply create a new e-mail address and delete the old one.
With a simple piece of code that you can find in the WordPress documentation, you don’t even need to update all your pages and posts with your new address. Just update the e-mail address in your profile and the code takes care of updates automatically.
E-mail harvesting is here to stay. You don’t have to let it harm your WordPress experience, though. You can fight back against harvesting with one of the tips presented here.