Whether it’s parenting, politics, or ping-pong, chances are there’s an online community out there where people are chatting about something you’re interested in.
There are several different kinds of communities, including e-mail distribution lists, message boards, newsgroups, and even blogs like this one.
When you post messages to these groups you might also be required to post your e-mail address. Or you may want to post your address so another member of the community can respond. But what you might get in return is an inbox full of spam.
To help avoid spam when you post your e-mail address online, you might want to use a technique called “masking.”
Masking involves inserting a word or phrase in the middle of your regular e-mail address to help foil automated e-mail “harvesting” programs that will send you spam or sell your address to someone who will.
Let’s say your e-mail address is email@example.com. When you post it online, write it as firstname.lastname@example.org. And then add in your message that people should take out the “nospam” if they want to e-mail you.
However, some newsgroup and bulletin boards services don’t allow masking, and as spammers become more sophisticated, their harvesting software might be able to recognize a masked e-mail address.