Say I want to type my email address in a forum...say, hank.chief123@gmail.com. Obviously, that's a bad idea since spam bots will likely find it. So, I would just "cleverly" type hank dot chief one two three at gmail dot com or something similar.

However, wouldn't most of the spammers know this trick, and design their bots to look for at replacing @, and dot replacing .?

My question is, How much more safe is using at and dot, and do many spam bots already try to detect those?


The problem for the bot creator is trying to parse all the text to identify what is an obfuscated email. It's obvious to a human by reading the context, but a script is not going to have contextual awareness. However, the regex to parse a proper email address syntax is well-known.

Try to program a bot to identify hank dot chief one two three at gmail dot com in your post (without knowing the email to look for). There is not a lot there for a script to use to figure out an email.

Sure, a script could look for at [\c] dot com, but getting the name right will be quite a chore.

Some bots will be able to programmatically identify the context based on the form used, but that requires that the forum have an identifiable format to be able to say that "the text in this area is likely an email".

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    And it could be much worse than that. I know someone who registered the domain dotat.at, and has email address dotat.atdot@dotat.at, which would be written out as “dotat dot atdot at dotat dot at”. – Mike Scott Apr 14 at 21:05
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    @MikeScott absolutely. but for most bots, they will be looking for the big email providers (gmail, hotmail, outlook, yahoo) which are easier to parse. – schroeder Apr 14 at 21:08
  • Couldn’t they just do ` at ` → @ and etc? – juniorRubyist Apr 15 at 1:08

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