Hiding email addresses from spammers has a long history. There are some obvious golden goals, like making the process seamless to your visitors, and be practicable to implement. The one that often gets left out is accessibility, but in some areas this is actually a legal requirement.
To my knowledge, this plugin implements the best method so far devised. Credit goes to Roel Van Gils for this technique, which he calls Graceful Email Obfuscation. The basic idea is actually very simple: use PHP and JS to hide the address effectively, and make sure the fallback can be used easily by blind or visually impaired users by using a text-based CAPTCHA.
The PHP code takes passed-in emails and generates simply-encoded string using alphabetic characters. It is therefore very hard to imagine what sort of spammer’s parser could possibly detect it. The only way is to load the whole DOM and jQuery to run the decryption routine. As far as we know, no bots go to those lengths, but it adds essentially no overhead if the theme or any other plugins already load jQuery; otherwise a fraction of a second might be added to page load.
Comparisons with other plugins
Comparisons with other methods
The most viable alternative methods are:
- Using images (cf. Visagefolio). This requires typing and is a pain for everyone.
- Poor “test [at] example [dot] com” style text replacements provide no protection and annoy users.
- Clever things like outputting “moc.elpmaxe@tset” and using CSS unicode rules to reverse it. Unfortunately these cause trouble for the blind and in some browsers make it confusing to copy and paste the link.
- Using XML comments or CSS
display: none;to remove elements inside the link text. There is still no clickable link, which makes it hard for the blind to use.
- GEO review by Ken Carlson
- Spam obfuscation comparison recommending use of this method for 508 compliance: .eduGuru article by Michael Fienen
Some notes and future details on my site
- Upload the folder
- Activate the plugin through the ‘Plugins’ menu in WordPress.
- Use the shortcode
[email]in your pages and posts.
Syntax & Details
The link can either be put inside the tag:
Or, an alternate link text can be provided by using
[email href="firstname.lastname@example.org"]Contact Anthony[/email]
class attributes used on
[email] get passed down to the
<a> element generated, which also has the
geo-address class added to it for styling your email links.
The plugin grabs the frontpage and uses it to to display the CAPTCHA. The actual page layout is highly dependent on the theme, so the plugin applies a fairly standard heuristic, putting its content inside any div with id main or content, or role main. That covers pretty much all themes. If the auto-detection does not work, the whole page is replaced instead. The upshot is that it should function fine, but may mess up the style if various wrappers or complex CSS rules are used in the theme.
Contributors & Developers
“Graceful Email Obfuscation” is open source software. The following people have contributed to this plugin.Contributors
Interested in development?
0.3 potential plans
The choice of human-accessible questions could be opened up. A page scanner to avoid the use of shortcodes could be offered.
A fairly hefty change to the way the CAPTCHA is placed on the frontpage. I had made a bad assumption about how a WP hook worked, and rectifying it required engineering a vastly more fiddly piece of apparatus requiring parsing and fiddling with the document. It ought to be as close to bullet-proof as can be, much better the regular expressions.