Noun: spam
1. Unwanted e-mail (usually of a commercial nature sent out in bulk)
Verb: spam (spammed, spamming)
1. Send unwanted or junk e-mail
Noun: Spam
1. A canned meat made largely from pork
Source: WordWeb


Q. Why do I get sent junk email - how do spammers get my email address?
One way that a spammer can get hold of your email address is through an automated program called a spider that crawls (at great speed) round the internet, scanning web pages for email addresses. By this method the spammer can get hold of a large number of supposedly valid email addresses.

It costs the spammer next to nothing to send an email, so the more email addresses the spammer is able to spam, simply increases the chances of success. Even if the spammer gets a 99.99% failure rate, from sending out a cool million emails, that's still 100 successes!

Yes, unfortunately there are a few people who respond to adverts/spam they receive via email. So, as long as people respond and spamming continues to pay, the spammers will still continue to spam. Spam, spam, spam!

Q. But I can see my email address on the webpage, am I going to get spammed?!
The email-grabbing program that scans the webpage, sees the page in its raw format. This is not the same as the page you see in your web browser. If you click on the webpage with your Right-Mouse-Button and select either 'View Source', or 'View Page Source' from the popup menu, you can view the page as it really is. Your web browser (Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox to name but two) interprets this file in order to display the more readable version you see on screen.

If you were to read through the actual content of the page (the Page Source) you will see that there are no email addresses to be found! So, in theory, if you can't see them, then neither can the spider that crawls around the internet looking for email addresses.

Q. So, where does my email address come from?
Your email address is stored in an external file away from the actual webpage. A special function is called that retrieves your email address from this file in order to display it on the webpage. The spider that is crawling around the internet is looking for a specific sequence of letters in the source of the webpage to indicate an email address. It is very unlikely that the spider would waste time even attempting to execute external functions and then having to analyse the results. Apart from taking a long time, the function could do almost anything!

As a second measure of security, if the spider should end up analysing the final page, there are no telltale 'mailto:' links anywhere on the page that indcate an email address. If you hover over an email address with the mouse, you will see in the status bar at the bottom of the page, what it actually links to. On a page that fails to hide the email address, you will see 'mailto:<email address>', whereas the pages on this website call an external function to trigger the users email client, should the user click on an email link. This shows up as 'javascript:sendMail('somewhere.co.uk','someone');' in the status bar at the bottom of the page, when you hover over the link. This is not a standard function call, the spider crawling the internet is not expecting to find it and therefore cannot know what it does or how to deal with it. Your email address is effectively hidden.

All email addresses that you see on the Silver Fox Badminton Club website are protected in this way.


Update 12th Sept 2005... As added security all email address links have been removed and email addresses which appear on the page are partially converted to images in order to further hide them from spammers. This makes your email address completely safe, but unfortunately, as an end user you are no longer able click on the address to send an email, nor to cut 'n' paste it into your email program. The only way now to get an email address is to physically write it down with good ol' pen and paper.