Somebody I think it was Dena Jo commented recently on the futility of trying to foil harvesters of e-mail addresses.
A trick I've seen at a certain Web site suggests what may be the ultimate way: If you put your e-mail address in a graphic, only a human observer can see what it is.

For example, suppose I say that I will not read any more e-mail sent to my former e-mail address. Instead, I ask the reader to go to to retrieve the e-mail address that I will henceforth exclusively monitor.
I'm sure it's possible to write software that will cruise the Web, extract text from every graphics file it finds, and test that text to see if it contains an e-mail address, but it seems like a lot of trouble, even for a harvester.

There are flaws in this approach, but it's the best idea I've heard of so far.
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Bob Cunningham filted:
Somebody I think it was Dena Jo commented recently on the futility of trying to foil harvesters of ... even for a harvester. There are flaws in this approach, but it's the best idea I've heard of so far.

Not least of which is that in some addresses a human has to decide whether a certain character is a lowercase L or the numeral 1 (or in certain fonts a capital I)...in such areas, available OCR software can already match the average human eye...in fact, the very people you're trying to fool regularly send messages advertising "V!agra", knowing that the average wetware reader won't even be slowed down by the substitution..
I remember when I first got online; they took down my particulars over the phone, and when they asked what I wanted for my e-mail name, I spelled it out very carefully, using phonetic hints to augment the more troublesome letters...when the signup package arrived, they had it as "dsdoctar"...a whopping 75% accuracy rating..r
Bob Cunningham filted:

Somebody I think it was Dena Jo commented ... but it's the best idea I've heard of so far.

Not least of which is that in some addresses a human has to decide whethera certain character is a lowercase ... hints to augment the more troublesome letters...when the signup package arrived, they had it as "dsdoctar"...a whopping 75% accuracy rating..r

Whether scanned from a typed or handwritten list, that is typical OCR madness.
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I remember when I first got online; they took down ... arrived, they had it as "dsdoctar"...a whopping 75% accuracy rating..r

Whether scanned from a typed or handwritten list, that is typical OCR madness.

I think you're a bit too pessimistic, at least regarding typed or printed matter. The last time I OCRed something, I found one mistake (an omitted space) out of 900 characters. And that's with the cheap OCR software that came bundled with a scanner.
As for scanning handwritten text, I would expect dismal performance.
Ray Heindl
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Whether scanned from a typed or handwritten list, that is typical OCR madness.

I think you're a bit too pessimistic, at least regarding typed or printed matter. The last time I OCRed something, ... the cheap OCR software that came bundled with a scanner. As for scanning handwritten text, I would expect dismal performance.

My scanner's OCR software makes many mistakes on 30-year-old many-times-copied typewritten legal text. (Scanning condominium letters of association).
Conversion of an "h" to an "r" and an "a" to and "s" is a very frequent kind of error. One doesn't know whether or how often "dadoctah's" info was faxed and otherwise duplicated before the scanner and/or OCR software "read" it. It sure appears to me that there is defective carbon ribbon and type or clogged ink jets in the mix somewhere. Maybe dot matrix to fax to scanner/OCR.
On 19 Feb 2004 10:26:24 -0800, R H Draney
Bob Cunningham filted:

Somebody I think it was Dena Jo commented ... but it's the best idea I've heard of so far.

Not least of which is that in some addresses a human has to decide whether a certain character is a ... fool regularly send messages advertising "V!agra", knowing that the average wetware reader won't even be slowed down by the substitution..

My "this" in "flaws in this approach" has an antecedent problem. By "this approach" I meant the idea of trying to foil harvesters by revealing one's e-mail address in graphics form only.
I believe you understandably took "this approach" to refer to a harvester attempting to scan graphics files to find e-mail addresses. Your comments, even though they were apparently based on a misperception of my intended meaning, were well said and interesting to read.
I remember when I first got online; they took down my particulars over the phone, and when they asked what ... hints to augment the more troublesome letters...when the signup package arrived, they had it as "dsdoctar"...a whopping 75% accuracy rating..r

When I bought my HP All-in-One device (scanner, printer, and copier), it came with OCR software, and I had high hopes of making extensive use of it. After quite a few
disappointments and no results that were truly useful, I've given up on it. But scanning, printing, and copying have worked out just fine.
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For example, suppose I say that I will not read any more e-mail sent to my former e-mail address. Instead, I ask the reader to go to to retrieve the e-mail address that I will henceforth exclusively monitor.[/nq]
Is that a valid e-mail address for you in that
particular graphic, or were you just kidding?
Ah, I see. Now I get it.

Christopher
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Pat Durkin filted:
My scanner's OCR software makes many mistakes on 30-year-old many-times-copied typewritten legal text. (Scanning condominium letters of association). Conversion of ... defective carbon ribbon and type or clogged ink jets in the mix somewhere. Maybe dot matrix to fax to scanner/OCR.

I may have primed the pump, but honestly this is the first I've even considered "dadoctah becomes dsdoctar" an OCR or any other sort of technological failure...I've always assumed the sales guy who took down the information over the phone wrote it in longhand, and someone else later couldn't quite read his handwriting while keying it in..
I remember noticing around 1980-81, when anyone whose job title wasn't "secretary" wasn't allowed to type in our office, that the clerical staff would always change the then-unfamiliar word "modem" to "model" if the original was typed, and to "modern" if it was manuscript..r
For example, suppose I say that I will not read any more e-mail sent to my former e-mail address. Instead, I ask the reader to go to to retrieve the e-mail address that I will henceforth exclusively monitor.[/nq]
I like this idea, but it won't work for those of us without a web page. that don't got a web address.

Dena Jo
Email goes to denajo2 at the dot com version of the Yahoo domain
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