mung : Java Glossary

mung
To mangle your publicly-posted email address sufficiently when you post it publicly that spammers cannot harvest it for bulk mailing lists, yet not so badly that legitimate senders cannot manually reconstruct it.

Munging is not for private emails. To mung there is both pointless and rude. You use the munging techniques for posting your email address on the web, in newsgroups or in blogs to slow down an avalanche of spam.

Why does my email address appear on my website only as an inconvenient non-clickable image? e.g. email feedback to Roedy Green or Canadian Mind Products. Because I have such a high Internet profile, without that munging technique, I get thousands of spams a day. It is unfortunate to inconveniece my legitimate correspondents with munging. The alternative is to discard legitimate correspondence accidentally as spam.

Advantages Email Graphic Icons
Disadvantages SpamGourmet.com
Use of Invalid Alternative Approaches
How To Mung Links

Why You Should Mung Your Address

Why You Should Not Mung Your Address

Use of Invalid

If you want no mail at all from anyone, use an id that ends in invalid, e.g. . Don’t mention any domain anywhere. This is the official way to do it. If your newsreader won’t let you do that, then give it an address of the form or failing that

If you are munging, you should put .invalid as the TLD (Top Level Domain) on the end to warn that the address is munged, e. g. .

How To Mung

Examples of pointless munging, too easy to defeat by automation. You don’t want to irritate your legitimate readers by requiring too many keystrokes to correct the address, e.g. take many keystrokes to correct, but is easy to correct via automation.

To mung, you must be creative and original. You have to defeat two classes of demungers:

  1. algorithms that demung common patterns, willing to test several variant demungings.
  2. ladies in their housecoats working from home willing to test several variant demungings.
The trick to fooling (1) is to use a new pattern. The trick to fooling (2) is to require specific knowledge an unskilled person would not have, e. g.
  1. . It still may go sailing over the heads of people you want to decode it to hotmail.com.
  2. (leave out the references to Norway)
  3. When you post any email address on the web in two parts separated by a graphic @ sign, with a deceptive alt tag. like this: dumbo beansprout saladcircus.com.
  4. Change your email address to a word not found in the dictionary or in Names for Baby. Spammers will try sending to every possible word, given name and surname on a given email host and remember what gets delivered for future mailings. If you have a common name for your email address e.g. jimmy@hotmail.com, even perfect munging to camouflage it won’t save you.
Unfortunately, if you leave hints about how to remove your mung, little ladies in their housecoats working for $0.06 an hour in China can read them just aswell.

On the other hand, if you are too subtle, your legitimate callers won’t notice the mung, or won’t be able to correctly remove it on the first try.

Masker logo  The Graphics Email Icon Approach :email Roedy Green  ⇐ png graphic icon, not text

I tell people to look on my website at the top of any page or more particularly at http://mindprod.com/image/mailto/roedy.png. The image gives my true email address, but it would be difficult for a machine to read it, though a lady working in a housecoat for $0.06 an hour in China could. I used an odd font and made it slightly blurry to deter OCR (Optical Character Recognition). You can generate similar graphics email icon with Masker.

SpamGourmet.com

SpamGourmet.com will give you valid email address. However, all mail directed there is just thrown away. This avoids the problem of bounced messages being generated. You will of course lose legitimate mail as well from people who don’t know that spamgourmet does this.

Alternative Approaches

You may find that many companies now are hiding their email addresses. To send them email you must go to their website and send them a message by filling in a form. They have had it up to the teeth with spam.

One approach is to change your public email address from time to time, and discard the old one when it becomes too spam saturated. Keep a private one for personal communication you never post.

Eventually some Mafioso is going get ticked by spam and take some spectacular revenge which may discourage people entering the profession.


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