Avoid the Bots

Sounds like a SciFi movie, eh? Alien mechanical menaces sporting incredible strength and intelligence, vulnerable only to precision air strikes by the world’s greatest Air Force (OK, that last part was a shameless plug).

I wish. Bots and Spiders, far from being from space, are software search/crawling routines that wander the Internet. The good ones cull sites for linking through search engines like Google, Yahoo, etc. That helps everyone.

Evil bots and spiders sold their souls to serve the spammers from Gehenna. They primarily seek email addresses on web sites, then feed them into the great spamming databases in the place of eternal junk email torment. The vile spammers then suck the life blood from your bandwidth and time by offering all kinds of, uh, personal enhancements and dream dates.

So why do you care? Everyone should avoid openly posting email addresses on blogs and websites in a usable form, i.e., as a link. If you want to pass your email address to someone, use a non-link with separators like deathbots_at_gehenna_dot_com or without the separators like “nastyspider at thepit dot com”. There are lots of other variations that will protect your email address, so be creative. Remember, though, that your intended recipient must be able to decode your clever encoding. For your own protection, just don’t post a usable link.

You’ve been warned. The bots are out there lurking, searching, never sleeping, ever culling. Do your part–don’t feed them, especially after midnight.

Posted by the ever helpful Bob Mattes, who always has your best interest at heart. Trust him. Even with your credit card. Please.



  1. anneivy said,

    November 24, 2007 at 10:16 pm

    A valuable warning, Bob! I’ve never thought about one’s email being snagged in such a fashion.

    Funny thing about having a Russian son so I shop at places such as Kniga.com, it causes me to get a truly impressive amount of Russian spam.

    Since I don’t understand Russian, I’m not sure precisely what it is they’re selling. Probably all to the good.

    Anne in Fort Worth, who would trust you to the ends of the earth, but still prefers to keep her credit card in her wallet, thanks anyway. ;-)

  2. Gary said,

    November 24, 2007 at 10:32 pm

    The promise of a rolex is genuine, right? I need a watch now that I misplaced my $9 walmart watch…


  3. November 24, 2007 at 10:33 pm

    The Russians are masters of spam and pop-ups. I hope that you are using Firefox with pop-ups and cookies blocked, and NoScript and AdBlock Plus extensions installed and blocking scripts and ads. A good firewall that blocks malformed packets, anonymous requests, and stealths all your ports is also a very good idea.

    but still prefers to keep her credit card in her wallet, thanks anyway

    Oh well, as you wish. :-)

  4. November 24, 2007 at 10:35 pm

    The promise of a rolex is genuine, right?

    Top quality, limited edition, delivered straight from the factory to your door. Absolutely. Just be careful of the lead paint/plating.

  5. November 24, 2007 at 10:37 pm

    BTW, I’ve edited email addresses as suggested above in two comments that I found from the last few days. I didn’t go back further than that.

  6. anneivy said,

    November 24, 2007 at 10:41 pm

    I’m not familiar with NoScript, but I do use Firefox and AdBlock Plus.

    Will go repair this omission PDQ. =8^o

  7. Jonathan said,

    November 24, 2007 at 11:43 pm

    I love no script. It is easy to use and allows you to let some sites script while still blocking others. For example Youtube you can allow youtube but still block all the banners. Also it’s frequently updated to stay on top of things ;)

  8. November 24, 2007 at 11:56 pm

    Here are the security extensions that I use in Firefox:

    Ad Block Plus
    Permit Cookies
    Redirect Remover

    These all put nice icons on the status bar, forming a complete security panel to enable/disable individual site protections with one click. Of course, you can control cookies and pop-ups natively in Firefox’s menus, but that takes more clicks and has less flexibility.

  9. Juan said,

    November 25, 2007 at 2:03 am

    What about when we submit comments and we provide our email address? What happens to those email addresses?



  10. David Gray said,

    November 25, 2007 at 6:07 am

    So were you a 33S?

  11. Keith LaMothe said,

    November 25, 2007 at 8:11 am


    Those email addresses are available to Lane (and perhaps the other authors), but are not displayed with the comment and are thus not accessible to the bots unless they hack into the administrative interface.

    They don’t read from the blog database, just the output that you and I can see. If the email addy is there, *chomp* *chew,chew,chew* *spew-spam-without-end*.

    Bob, the connections with Gehenna and such are quite appropriate.

  12. November 25, 2007 at 8:18 am


    Nope, but I stayed in a Holiday Inn Express once.

  13. Morgan Farmer said,

    November 25, 2007 at 5:10 pm

    You need to read the latest MIT Technology Review story about ‘Steve Fever’ and the ‘stevelets’. It will make you think twice about ‘bots’ only being on the internet.

  14. its.reed said,

    November 25, 2007 at 5:23 pm

    Ref. #5:

    And I am rateful for the edit Bob. Thanks!

  15. its.reed said,

    November 25, 2007 at 5:24 pm

    Uh … grateful that is.

    Don’t know what rateful means.

  16. November 25, 2007 at 7:19 pm


    You need to read the latest MIT Technology Review story about ‘Steve Fever’ and the ’stevelets’.

    Thanks for the point-out. Interesting concept. Have you ever read Godel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid by Douglas Hofstadter? It was published back in 1979 and is a great read if you are interested in artificial intelligence. If the stevelets (or Greg Egan) had read it, they’d have a test, albeit a difficult one, to recognize consciousness.

  17. Morgan Farmer said,

    November 26, 2007 at 8:38 pm

    I have not read that. Right now I am trying to keep up with my CTO and ‘knowledge engineering’ for our new hybrid/co-existent master data management system that DOES NOT use search and is NOT a relational database. (whew).

    Thanks for the tip. I will definately check it out. (If the stevelets don’t get me first ;) )

  18. November 26, 2007 at 8:49 pm


    Ouch. You have my deepest sympathy on that project. Are you sure that the stevelets didn’t engineer that circumstance to see how people react to seemingly impossible obstacles?

  19. Morgan Farmer said,

    November 27, 2007 at 9:45 am

    No actually the project/design is quite easy. The code and visuals are intense since the app is user-simple. The team is small, dedicated and brilliant. I am the domain expert. I will send you a link when we get to market.

  20. Morgan Farmer said,

    November 27, 2007 at 1:47 pm

    RM…I ordered the book today. Thanks for the hat tip!

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