Tim Priebe

Don’t hide your email address

HidingBack when I first started working on websites, I displayed my email address liberally, hiding it from no one. I wanted to make sure that anyone who wanted to contact me would have an easy way to do so.

Then came spam. And more spam, and more spam. I was getting hundreds of spam emails each week, sometimes each day. Before too long, I started making people contact me through contact forms, forums, or just nothing at all.

And it worked! The spam email dropped off greatly. But so did contact from people in general. I had robbed Peter to pay Paul.

Seth Godin wrote the following about email addresses in a recent blog entry:

If you sell something, set up an address like “sales@xyz.com”. Put this on your home page, “contact us if you’re looking for more information or a price quote.” Sure, you’ll get a lot of spam, but deleting spam is a lot easier than finding customers. (Hint, ask your IT people to make it a mailto link, with a subject line built in. That way, you can use the subject line to find the good email).

After my own experiences, I now advise people to have both an email address and a contact form on their website for people to get in touch with them via email.

The email address allows people who are at their own computer to send an email from their email program. And if they’re anything like me, they don’t always remember what they said in a message, so it’s great to have a record in their sent items.

The form allows people who are at another computer to send an email from their own email address without having to remember the contact information.


  1. I definitely agree. One trick we use with TileStack.com is the html template has an ‘encrypted’ (for lack of a better term) email address link that gets corrected with javascript on page load. This prevents most screen scraping and still lets people contact us easily.

  2. I started designing sites way before CSS came along and couldn’t believe the things that the site owner was delving out, he is a lot older than I had anticipated – he has a great deal of knowledge and is always helping others learn the code, he is a very nice man, this is one of my all time resources for web design.

  3. Good point, Ted. We actually have the same setup here on T&S with our email in the bottom left of every page. The only downside is that if you disable Javascript, the email disappears.

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