Blog of Andrés Aravena

A nice way to show email address and avoid spam

11 February 2017

How can you let the readers know your email address, but avoid it being collected by spammers?

While upgrading this blog for the 2017 season, I stumbled on a nice solution to this “email address dilemma”. For one side you want to let people know your email address and contact you directly. That is one of the purposes of having a blog. On the other side, as you probably know, putting your email address directly on a web page is just an invitation to spammer robots to fill your email with unwanted offers of useless overpriced stuff.

I had only found partial solutions for that. Some people use images to store their messages, but I always feel sinful of putting text on an image and use hundred times the bandwidth. So I was pretty much resigned to my solution of spelling my email as my_name dot my_surname at gmail dot com.

Looking something else, in particular for examples of well-designed blogs, I found the work of the web designer Guillermo Esteves. His blog is not only interesting and beautiful, he also included a link to show his email only to humans.

How does he do that? He uses a nice service by Google called reCAPTCHA Mailhide. It uses the same CAPTCHA idea that shows low-quality images that are easy to understand for humans and hard for computers. This particular implementation is hosted by Google (although you can install on your own server) and only serves email addresses.

Now in my Contact page you can get my email and write me back if the Disqus forum is not your taste.

Other important changes in the blog are moving it from to, and the change of URL convention, from category/year to year/category.

The change of web server is possible since now I’m uploading only static HTML and doing all Jekyll processing on my computer. The kramdown markdown processor of GitHub pages has an annoying convention to mark mathematics expressions, which is unnecessarily incompatible with LaTeX and pandoc. Processing on my computer will allow me to use pandoc, with nice formulas and bibliography.

This separation also has the advantage of separating the concerns of storage of personal documets and publishing. In particular now I can use LFS for the blog history and still have the good images on the web. At least I think so.