I have a pet peeve. Actually, I have hundreds of them but today I feel like sharing just one of them
How often do you come across a blog, forum or worse yet, a corporate site and have seen an email address displayed like this:
I’m not talking about where people are working around the rules of a website – for example a dating or auction site. I’m talking about sites where that person controls the content and elects to write their own email address in this fashion for no reason other than to reduce their spam load.
Every time I see this I detest it. It is lazy – it shows the owner of that content would rather have me faff around decoding it (no matter how easy that may be), copying it somewhere to edit it and generally wasting my time. The likelihood that I just don’t bother contacting them is higher than if it was a simple copy & paste operation or mailto: link.
Anti-spam tools are pretty good
I’ve had my email address in full naked glory splattered all over the internet. I want to get feedback from people and make it as easy as possible for them to do so. Surprisingly my inbox is not chock full of spam like it might have been in 1998 because the quality of anti-spam scanners has improved remarkably since then. Sure, my junk mail folder gets filled with advice on pleasing my lover and making easy money but that’s the job of the junk mail folder – to handle the crap flow. I’d rather have software doing the heavy lifting than pushing additional load on people who want to get in touch.
Be accessible to everyone
Obviously email obfuscation is more common with technical folks. Consider an ISV website – many of the site owners assume their site users are technical, however this is not always the case. Take the Mindscape site for example – our users are technical but most of the people emailing us are management or accounts people and are not technical at all. We want to make darn sure that the people who pay the bills and who make the final purchasing decisions can get in touch easily with as little friction as possible.
Chances are that if you’re geeky enough to want to obfuscate your email address you’re also geeky enough to write a basic online form. If you’re still concerned with all the spam you might get then build a nice form that allows people to email you without exposing your email address. Ensure that you make it clear you’ll reply quickly and word the page in a manner that informs the user that it is not an input box to oblivion. This is a much more professional looking solution than lazily obfuscating your email address.
Looking professional is important – it’s about building trust. Take Ayende’s blog for example. Ayende writes a heap of great blog posts and has built a solid following with .NET developers. On his blog he lists his cellphone number and email address prominently. When you visit his site, you see how open the person is it immediately which makes them feel more trustworthy and increases their credibility
Boosting trust and credibility is hard in the online world – consider this approach for your own website.
If you’d like to comment either drop one below or email me: email@example.com