Posting an email address on a public web page is a recipe for disaster. It’s the way to get a metric truckload of spam. This, of course, makes it unfortunately difficult to allow visitors to a website to contact you without inviting the spammers in as well.
The two primary methods used to combat this issue are contact forms, which have their own issues with spam, and obfuscation. There are plenty of pre-made contact form scripts, the better of which have some anti-spam measures in place (cforms and Contact Form 7 are popular options for WordPress). But what about obfuscation, for those times where it’s better to simply list the address rather than installing a whole form?
I’ve found a couple of good articles on the subject, for those of you who want something a little more complex than simply writing like “my email AT example DOT com.”
A List Apart’s Graceful E-Mail Obfuscation is an interesting read, though their solution is a bit involved and requires a bit of server-side scripting for it to work.
Perishable Press’s Best Method for Email Obfuscation? is a reasonable comprehensive guide, with plenty of clever methods to choose from, and pros and cons for each. I liked the techniques that involved writing the email backwards, or inserting null text in an HTML span, and using CSS to flip the text or remove the span of null text. Those two options don’t play nicely with copy/paste, though.
Disabling Comments on Old Posts, or How to Kill DiscussionMay 1, 2012 by Matt | Posted in Blogging No Comments
With spam comments on the rise, it’s becoming more common of a practice for bloggers to disable commenting on older posts. (WordPress even provides an option to disable comments on posts older than x days.) This drastically cuts down on the spam, as spammers tend to target pages that have an established search ranking. Unfortunately, it also kills the discussion.
Guess which posts on this site receive the most new comments every week. Older ones. Not the latest posts, but the ones that have stood the test of time and still have people looking.
The terms sometimes used to refer to posts that remain relevant, and bring in traffic, for years are “evergreen content” and “pillar content.” I have posts that are a few years old, are still the most popular in terms of traffic, and gain a couple new comments every month. Occasionally a spam comment will appear on those posts, but they’re outnumbered by legitimate comments, continuing a discussion that has been going on for a long time. Does it really make sense to put an end that, and frustrate readers who arrived a little late but still have questions to ask or opinions to voice, just to avoid a few spam comments Akismet happened to miss?
That seems like a wasted opportunity. Instead, you could update your evergreen posts to remain relevant, and add some links to more recent posts on the same subject. Build user engagement and keep the discussion going.
Smaller blogs, especially, can’t count on timely social media-driven traffic. They tend to succeed more with long-tail traffic from search engines. Obviously you won’t get very many comments at all if the form gets disabled just when a post is becoming popular…
Fortunately, there is a nice middle ground. Some posts, especially ones that have attractive keywords in them but become less relevant later down the line, rarely see legitimate comments but are magnets for spam. I have a couple that seem to get a handful of spam messages that sneak past Akismet every week, but never have real comments anymore. With those kinds of posts, you could probably toggle the discussion off without inconveniencing anybody but spammers.