Comments: Madonna (naked and wrapped in a flag) Wants You to Vote

I am SO not the techogeek, but can you change it on the website from a link to say:
joshilyn at joshilyn jackson dot com?

I thought that was supposed to work.

Posted by liz at January 2, 2008 8:39 AM

How about this:

The bots won't know what to do with that, but the brains will.

Posted by ray at January 2, 2008 8:48 AM

The LAST thing we would think is that you were being obnoxious.

Although you are a rock star. Pretty much.

Posted by daysgoby at January 2, 2008 9:00 AM

I have had an account at gmail for almost 4 years now. It is amazing. I went from like 100+ spam messages a day to maybe 1-2 a month in my inbox. They have filters, the filters are amazing. It's free, you can access it on the web or through Outlook or whatever. You can keep your current account and have it forwarded to gmail (automatic and easy to set up). Currently 6233 MB of storage. Free free free free free. Oh, and there is a search feature which is AWESOME. Can't recommend it enough.

Posted by Blair at January 2, 2008 9:24 AM

My favorite saying is "My e-mail address is chuck dot pearson at gmail dot stuff. You know what to replace stuff with. If you don't, you're obviously a bot who doesn't need to be e-mailing me anyway."

The problem is, some bots eventually DO figure out such things. An e-mail address has to only exist for entropy to take over and spam to start flooding it. Gmail has done far better than most other e-mail addresses I have, but I still get useless stuff there (and well-intentioned people who send bulk e-mails to all their friends lists have started to find their way into the spam file).

An acquaintance of mine who also writes books (although a fair bit geekier than yours, Joshilyn; see also has an added defense. Every year or so, he ABANDONS his e-mail address. He's presently on; when I first started using his textbooks, he was crowell03. It's subtle, but I gather it's pretty effective.

Anyway, ideas.

Posted by Dr Chuck Pearson at January 2, 2008 9:27 AM

Check out and see if that would work for you. Somewhat obnoxious but slightly less so than whitelisting.

Posted by Dave at January 2, 2008 9:39 AM

I don't know what options are available to you for your website, but you might see if your TechnoGeekPerson can set up something like what I use as a contact thingy on my blog. If you hit "talk to me" in the links section, it takes you to this page:
where you fill in your name, email addy, URL if you want (that one is optional) and answer a dummy-simple question as an anti-spambot device (when I pulled it up to get the address the question was "2 + 2 = ?" so even the math-challenged - which I AM! - can do it!) then there's a place for a message. You type the message, hit "send" and comes to me as an email.

I used to have something similar on my regular website too, but then I switched servers and it (the contact form) got all sadly broken and I haven't figured out how to fix it yet, so on that site, I'm doing what others have suggested - put my contact info down in a way that is not clickable, (spread out with spaces and with words like "at" and "dot" spelled out instead of using the symbols) and trust that anyone intelligent enough for me to want to talk to them in the first place will figure it out. :-)

Posted by DebR at January 2, 2008 9:52 AM

I'm going to pimp Gmail, too. It is awesome. I had a hotmail account until I began getting several several hundred spam emails a day. I never get spam with Gmail. Just a thought!

Posted by Keetha at January 2, 2008 10:04 AM

Yup, third pimping of the gmail here. I get tons of junk in my spam file, and only a random few here and there in my regular email. It's the fastest, easiest solution. And Blair, I have never been able to figure out how to forward email from my old Comcast account to my gmail - please tell me how at

Joss, your column is a must-read for me and has provided many laugh out loud moments in which my family looks at me as though I have crossed over to crazy-land.

Posted by Gail at January 2, 2008 10:16 AM

yep - vouching for GMail! It's fantastic. 100% better than my BUSINESS eMail account which has all kinds of "professional" spam filters/etc. the geeky programmers swear by. GMail maybe 10 spams a week. MAYBE. Work?? Closer to 30 a day. I vote for Free/easy to use/lots of storage/access it from anywhere GMail too!

Posted by MitMoi at January 2, 2008 10:27 AM

I AM a geeky type person (and married a total GEEK) and since I stayed in a Holiday Inn Express, I feel totally qualified to tell you how to handle the SPAM in your life.

Here's it in nearly simple steps:
1. You must change the e-mail addy that is on the site. I hate to say this, but the SPAM bots have it and it will continue to be filled with penises and no one needs that. And yes, you need a private e-mail addy for your mom, editor, agent, close friends, Scott, in other words people who matter to you. I have another writer friend who when she gets an e-mail to the public address from someone she wants to write back and forth with, in her response she says, "Can you send me e-mail to I've set that up so that e-mail gets to me faster and I don't want to miss anything." This makes the e-mail receiver feel special and basically my friend is just moving public e-mails to a more private addy. Oh and she has a THIRD e-mail for her really personal, business (agent/editor) types. Did that make sense?

2. When you change it, write it out with the words so that the bots can scrap for it. It is much harder to read the "DOT" over "." However, I'm going to warn you, some of your less savvy e-mailers will not get the changes -- every so often I get phone calls at my business from people who read my blog and have been e-mailing me and can't figure out why I don't reply. Also, make a note that after the removing from the addy, to pretty, please use a "FTK: " line. Tell them that this will prevent your precious e-mail from being eaten by the horrible SPAM world. Using FTK, will fool the SPAM more, because it isn't a dictionary word. I'd avoid doing the auto subject line, because some bots are there just to fill in e-mail links -- though a word verification would prevent that. Finally, in outlook create a rule that all e-mails with "FTK" in the subject line be turned a favorite color so they stand out in your own sorting.

3. I'm going to use the hateful word, filter. Here's the thing, get a good filter program (I use one called SpamBeyes -- Free) and it is trainable. What you do before you set this up and add a Junk Mail folder and put everything in it for a day or two that is truly spam. When you set it up, you tell it this folder is already sorted as spam. SpamBeyes sets up TWO folders for you: Junk Mail (stuff it is REALLY sure is SPAM) and Potential Junk Mail (Stuff that could be SPAM). I get tons of both and I go through my Potential file daily and the Junk file weekly. Truly, I've had 1 mis-filed e-mail in the past year. While it was probably annoying to miss the e-mail -- it did look like junk and I would have deleted if I was self sorting too.

That's it. You can e-mail me and I'll send you my number if you need me to walk you through any of this. SPAM is a pain in the butt -- and while there are laws against it, it doesn't seem to slow down. I feel your pain, really, I do.

Posted by Patricia at January 2, 2008 10:31 AM

Do you have a firewall? Because we just went through something similar at work. We were getting inundated -- my boss in particular was getting 1000+ junk mails a day, and that was WITH a pretty intense spam blocker. So we had our computer guy come in and put in a new SUPERAWESOME firewall. And now we get NONE. Apparently the 'bots knew how to get past that old firewall, but this new one is like the biggest, baddest bouncer you ever did see. Something to think about.

Barring that, I'd go with the rock star option.

Posted by Aimee at January 2, 2008 10:34 AM

I don't have any advice about spam for you (not my area of expertise) but I did want to advise you to have a separate email address for personal and/or business matters. It makes sense for someone who has a public life to be able to easily separate their private from their public correspondence. No more missed interview emails.

Posted by bob at January 2, 2008 11:54 AM

If you make your email address on the site AN IMAGE (which requires a little more work from your readers, but not much) and NOT a clickable link, it will definitely help. Changing your email address is the only way to put a stop to the spam on the current addy, though. Try gmail :)

Posted by lizardek at January 2, 2008 12:22 PM

another vote for a new address. as "They" have the current and you can't get it back now. and a vote for gmail = none, zero, zip, nada spam in the year-plus I've had it.
I did vote for the rock star option, but the ideas above to fool the bots are good ones too. also, I thought everyone had two or three emails to sort out the people in their lives.
good luck with it. spam is evil.

Posted by elizabeth at January 2, 2008 12:54 PM

How about setting up one of those "contact me" links that take you to a fill-in-the-blank page (much like the blog comment section)? You'll know that anyone who took the time to fill it in really wants your attention and you don't have to give out an email address until you are good and ready to.

Posted by Chris at January 2, 2008 2:57 PM

While I haven't had much spam at gmail, I have had several important emails go to the spam folder. Just sayin.

Posted by Amy at January 2, 2008 3:41 PM

What about one of those "type these letters in this box" style things. I heard that was to keep spam down.

Posted by Rhonda at January 2, 2008 4:12 PM

Fourthing (fifthing? sixthing?) the gmail suggestion. Their spam-suppression technology is automatic and very effective.

Might I also humbly point out that requiring an e-mail address to post comments increases the amount of spam for the rest of us, and perhaps should not be a requirement?

Posted by Marleigh at January 2, 2008 4:36 PM

It also occurred to me, you might be able to do mojo in which you pass your current e-mail address through a gmail account for its spam-filtering properties, thus getting the best of both worlds.

And when I say "you might be able to," I mean "Scott might be able to." Or such is my guess from your lovely descriptions of the pair of you.

Posted by Marleigh at January 2, 2008 4:41 PM

I have three is for work, one is a yahoo account for family and friends, and the latter is a gmail account for non-work professional contacts. Yahoo and gmail both do great things with spam... and work is work, and not published.

Posted by diana at January 2, 2008 5:16 PM

I'll second the recommendation to get a gmail account-- freefreefree, TONS of space, searchable, and better at dealing with spam than... well, anything. Gmail, she is good :)

Posted by Jessie at January 2, 2008 5:54 PM

Try g-mail. I get barely any spam... xo

Posted by Martha at January 2, 2008 6:05 PM

WHOOPS putthis on the wrong entry at first -- CCing here:

AH my comments requiring an e-mail addy---that is a moveable type thing to cut down on penis ads HERE. You do not have to post your ACTUAL one. I just posted this, for example, using the address, SMITH at Wesson dot com.

Perhaps Scott can change it to somethign that STILL protects us from penis spam comments, but for now, to protect your addy, just, you know, LIE.

Posted by Joshilyn at January 2, 2008 10:22 PM

Another Gmail advocate here. I've had it for over a year and hardly ever (maybe once a week) get spammed.

Posted by Wilma at January 2, 2008 10:46 PM

I have absolutely no helpful suggestions, but I have to wonder - do any of these spam emails, like, WORK? I mean, does anyone anywhere ever respond to them? I've got the wanker ones and the pharmacy order ones and the sexy friends ones, and while I don't have them in YOUR numbers, they still puzzle me. I can't imagine anyone actually responding to them, is all.

Best of luck!

Posted by Fran at January 2, 2008 11:03 PM

I too love the G mail where I get MAIL as opposed to the Hot Mail which obviously considers itself a Hot MALE and accepts penis ads.

Posted by JeanEva at January 2, 2008 11:15 PM

Get a gmail account for the blog. The inbox space is unlimited so you won't have things returning automatically, and the filters are pretty good. And when you put it on your blog don't actually post it write it as joshylyn at gmail dot com so that the people who want to contact you can read it, but spam machines can't. Then, next to the email address, ask everyone to write faster than Kudzu in the subject line and then set you filters on your gmail account to direct all mail with that in the title to a specific folder and you will get all of your real mail.

You see, I have my address up at my blog too. This works for me. The only problem is when someone sends me something for the first time sometimes it ends up in the spam folder. That's why the title and the filter.

Anyway, there is my brilliant solution for you.

Posted by carrien at January 3, 2008 5:08 AM

1) Yes, Gmail is a very good thing. Their spam filters are fab.

2) Yes, the spammers already have your email address, and they won't let it go. If you want to cut spam, you'll need another address.

3) Not all people are created equally tech-savvy, so if you want a reasonably spam-proof yet clickable email link, I know a handy little JavaScript function you can use. I used my real email address (see? gmail!) and my real blog URL to comment here, so you can contact me via either.

Posted by alala at January 3, 2008 8:34 AM

Most of your true admirers will not mind the rock star thing. I read a good number of blogs, though, and the g-mail thing does seem really popular.

Posted by Therese at January 3, 2008 9:27 AM

I haven't read all the comments, so I'm sure this has all been said but: dude, get a gmail. Their filter is amazing, and they have enough space that even if you get a bajillion spams, you won't run out of box space. I'm the two years that I've had it, I've had maybe three spams get into my inbox, on an average of fifteen spams a day. I'm sure yours is much higher, but still, the percentage isn't bad. ^_^ Also, don't take the email OFF the website, but de-link it. Write it outas joshilynATsomethingorotherDOTcom with a note for the not-tech-savvy to change the words AT and DOT to the actual symbols, so that spam bots can't pick it up.

Posted by Jess at January 3, 2008 9:27 AM

I agree with the g-mail but want to say DO NOT!!!!! use yahoo. I find that I press SPAM button all the time and yet get the same things again and again and again. Mind you, not the s*x type stuff but the lottery winnr and we want to give you so much $$$$$$$ we are bursting stuff
I also do use several email addy's - various ones for various things.

Posted by gilly at January 3, 2008 11:31 AM

I voted for putting in a reader thingy... and I'd like to know how to do that myself. I'm getting quite a few johnson-related spams myself and yes, it's annoying to delete them. Good luck!

Posted by Susan Cushman at January 3, 2008 11:40 AM

Yes, I have gmail, too. It is amazing and I love it. You should give it a try.

Posted by nik at January 3, 2008 5:52 PM

GARG --- I have to close comments. The penis spams foudn this entry! Just had to hand delete a ton.

I have foudn that entries with more than 30 comments get SPAMMED.

Posted by Joshilyn at January 4, 2008 11:11 AM