Spam Protected Email Addresses (SPEA)
Volker Grassmann, DF5AI
December 23, 2003
Operating your web site in the internet, you will sooner or later receive tons of unwanted email messages, i.e. spam mail. The email software on my computer is smart enough to learn which emails I would consider spam mail. The software isn't perfect though and a certain amount of spam mail still appeared in my mailbox. By introducing a very simple authorization identifier, all spam mail is now perfectly rejected by the same email software. The following method cannot prevent spam mail being downloaded by your email client but it can identify those messages quite accurately, i.e. spam mail shows up in your mailbox never again. You may use the same method on your computer without contacting your internet/email provider and it is very easy to implement. See how it works...
The SPEA identifier
On your webpage, you generally provide an email address allowing users to send you a message, spammers may use the same email address, unfortunately. All what we need to do is providing an additional information which is available to the users but not available to the spammers. This information is called the SPEA identifier which you may publish on your webpage together with your email address, see figure 1.
Note that spammers may consider your email address but they cannot consider mandatory key words in the email's subject line. Thus, receiving an email with the identifier missing, your email software may reject that email without mercy. On the other hand, the users of your web site may consider that identifier in the subject line, i.e. their messages will pass without any problem, see figure 2.
Configuring your email software
Without contacting your email provider, you may implement that method very easily - just by adding a filter rule to your email software. That filter reads the email's subject line and, if the SPEA identifier is missing, your email software may kick that message into the nirvana, see figure 3.
Recommendation to change your email address
Evidently, you do not need to change your email address to make it a Spam Protected Email Address. However, I recommend to change your email address by adding the term "-SPEA" to your email name. For example:
would change into
Imagine the SPEA concept would be used by many people, spammers will realize that it isn't worth to target email names with "-SPEA" in it. Being a spammer, would you send junk messages to thousands of email addresses which will never ever generate any awareness because all your messages will be blocked even by very simple email programs? Therefore, I think it is wise to demonstrate SPEA in the email name.
Questions & answers
Email addresses in web appearances
You may reduce the amount of spam mails by considering some basic rules in the internet, i.e. on your web site and elsewhere.
Rule 1: Do not use HTML to communicate your email address on your web site, never ever. HTML links such as
will place the so-called mailto command in the source code which spammers may scan quite easily. Thus, it is wise to include your email address by using graphics, for example:
There is one disadvantage though, i.e. users cannot click that address to launch their email client software. However, I never met a user complaining about this procedure because they all accept the procedure.
Rule 2: Apply the same rule when communicating your email address in publications, articles, documents and papers accessible on your web site or somewhre else in the internet.
Rule 3: Do not use your "official" email address in email forums, chat rooms and similiar services, i.e. implement an extra email address for this purposes which doesn't harm you even when this address is being bombarded by spam mails.