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One anti-spam effort too easily defeated.

I see lots of times where people put their mailing addresses as "foo at bar dot org" in a hopeful effort to keep spammers from scraping your mailing address. Heck, mail archive systems often have (and are deployed with) options to obfuscate email addresses systematically, using the same pattern: foo at bar dot com.

All it does is hurt usability.

Googlng for "* at * dot *" clearly shows lots of matches. It also matches all of the following variants, due to google searches ignoring brackets and such in words:

  • foo at bar dot com
  • foo [at] bar [dot] com
  • foo (at) bar (dot) com
  • ... etc ...
Query, scrape, replace 'at' and 'dot' as desired. I now have 54 million email addresses. What now?

Seems like this effort only serves to have people fool themselves as well as to impede usability. It certainly won't protect you from spam. Why is this method used?