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obfuscating email addresses


From: Jeremy Merritt
Date: Feb 19, 2015 11:23AM


I have been asked to look into ways to obfuscate email addresses made available online so that automated bots and email harvesters have a more difficult time collecting. I realize that obfuscating email addresses is a controversial subject and is not foolproof, but alas I have been tasked with coming up with some recommendations.

It is important to us that any solution does not make email addresses inaccessible to legitimate users. I've read a number of (old) articles on methods to obfuscate email addresses, such as http://doteduguru.com/id415-e-mail-obfuscation.html . In this blog, the author suggests that some simple (and reportedly effective) methodologies make the email addresses inaccessible to users of screen readers. However, in my testing using the current (trial) version of JAWS, I haven't found this to be the case.

I put 4 email addresses up on a simple web page at http://wiu.edu/users/mujtm6/spam/ and was able to hear the correct email addresses when I tested the site in JAWS. Each of these email addresses uses a different method for "obfuscating" the email in some way. The pertinent source code is below. As I am not a very savvy screen reader user, I would like some feedback from some of you that are more familiar. Do any of these cause accessibility problems?


<li><span class="nospam"><span class="u">william</span><span class="at">@</span><span class="d">domain.com</span></span></li>
<li>john<span style="display:none;">bogus</span> <EMAIL REMOVED> </li>
<li>sally@<!--bogus-->domain.com </li>