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Spam crawlers work much like Google crawlers but they collect only a few things. Particularly anything with '@' in them.
Anyone putting a naked mail address on the web today is asking for it.
Surprisingly it's easy to fool most (if not all) spam crawlers. They can't understand numeric escapes and they're not especially accomplished in reading image files - not on this level at any rate.
So whilst firstname.lastname@example.org is going to get hit email@example.com most likely will not.
And 'mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org' will fare even better.
And 'mailto:stev...' will fare better still.
Getting from the one unprotected string to the other spam-proof string is easy. Or so you'd think. The complete Perl program takes less than 300 bytes.
Yet when another classic UNREALbasic application appeared in the Macintosh Products Guide many people took notice. The gem was called SpamStopper and its goal was simply and sweetly to obfuscate mail addresses as seen above.
The punch line was this 'engineer' needed 990 KB to do it - 30% more code than the entire Safari application at the time.
'It does what it claims to do and that should be enough', the author burped nastily at the time when asked how he could cram so much useless junk into such a simple stupid application.
Radsoft along with a number of acknowledged software gurus hastened to roast the boob and S3 for OS X followed as a natural adjunct.
S3 stands for 'SpamStopper Stopper'. Spam crawlers get confused but your site visitors don't.
And even on the sometimes extravagant OS X it's only one fiftieth (1/50) the size.