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Why is it, that on quite a few websites email addresses are written like this

something(at)example.com

instead of like this?

something@example.com

I could see that one might do it, to avoid bots collecting the addresses for spamlists, but, oftentimes that address is also a mailto: link, in which, as most of you probably know, email addresses are written with the @ in there, as opposed to(at).

My point being: those bots are most likely (or at least I'd implement it that way) implemented to parse the sourcecode of the page directly, instead of a rendered version of it, right? They'll find the email address anyway.

Edit:

To help understand my question, this is the website that triggered me wondering about it again: http://www.feggwatt.ch/neu/index.php It's right at the very bottom on the right side, where they put their own email address.

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  • Perhaps the source still holds the "at" variant, but at the client side they simply turn it back into a regular mailto with an "@" - which confuses me to why they'd still keep it in the link name... perhaps adding an example could help? – Xabre Sep 10 '15 at 17:45
  • @Xabre it's still in the link, so the user can easily just click on it, and send an email there instead of having to manually type the address – Marius Schär Sep 10 '15 at 17:49
  • I meant, that perhaps the code is still "me at them.com" but some javascript code converts it to "<a href='mailto:me@them.com'>me at them.com</a>" - more to read about in this book of tricks: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Address_munging – Xabre Sep 10 '15 at 17:51
  • Ah, see what you mean. This is not the case however on the two websites I've most recently seen it used on. – Marius Schär Sep 10 '15 at 17:54
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    I'm fairly sure its just to avoid websites spam filters. A lot of sites don't allow links or emails in thier posts especially to competing sites so you'll see things like emails written as you mentioned and sites written like "example(dot)com". Humans can read it and tell its a website and replace the "dot" but spam filters wont remove it. It's somewhat of a loophole. – DasBeasto Sep 10 '15 at 17:57
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This isn't really a UX question.

Replacing @ in an email address with anything else is purely a technical decision to avoid screen scrapers nabbing their email address. There's no UX benefit to this (In fact, it's a detriment).

Replacing an @ sign but using the mailto: protocal to show the actual email address is just silly and likely a result of a naive designer/developer.

And given that a) screen scrapers/bots are much more capable today and b) email spam filters are much more capable today, it's probably not even a valid solution these days and likely just a habit at this point.

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