It’s a familiar problem: you want to give someone an email address where they can contact you, or put one on a web site, but you dread the thought of the flood of spam that will follow when that address gets loose in the wild. Fortunately, problems have solutions. Here are three ways to give someone a way to contact you while dodging the spam bullet:
Use plus addressing: This one works with GMail and many other providers. If your actual address if Chumley@gmail.com, then mail to Chumleyfirstname.lastname@example.org will get to you, as will mail to Chumleyemail@example.com, or an address with just about anything else after the plus sign (you may be limited to six characters). If the particular plus-address turns into a spam magnet, create a filter to throw incoming mail away forevermore.
Use a disposable mail service: Try Mailinator, dodgeit, or PookMail (there are others of the same ilk, but those are the best known). No registration required; you just pick an address like SpotTheWonderHamster@mailinator.com and check incoming mail through their web interface or via an RSS feed. Drawback: anyone who guesses your address can check your incoming mail too. These services are great when you want to get one piece of mail from someone like a used car salesman who you never want to hear from again in the future.
Let Contactify do the work: Instead of putting your email address on your web site, take two minutes and sign up for a contact form at Contactify. They’ll give you your own dedicated link to a captcha-protected contact form on their own site. Readers who want to send you a message fill out the form, solve the captcha, and click OK; Contactify forwards the message to your email address, which they never hand out. If you don’t have the skills or software to implement your own captcha, this is a free way to get the same level of protection from address harvesters and spamming robots.