Scr.im: Share your email address publicly without the risk of giving it to spammers

Spam, n: a subset of spam that involves nearly identical messages sent to… blah blah blah. We all know what spam is. We all know if we were to publicly display our e-mail addresses, spambots may pick up on it and start, well, spamming us. Luckily, a website by the name of scr.im provides a solution to the I-want-to-share-my-email-address-publicly-but-don’t-want-to-be-spammed problem.

Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

What is scr.im

Simply put, scr.im is a URL shortener… for e-mail addresses. Users associate a http://scr.im/xxx URL and when someone visits that http://scr.im/xxx URL, they must pass a CAPATCHA test after which the e-mail address associated with the http://scr.im/xxx URL is shown.

Setting up scr.im

When you first visit scr.im, you’ll be asked to enter an email address and pick a URL:

The picking URL part is entirely optional because scr.im will automatically generate a URL for you, if you don’t pick a custom one. However, selecting your own custom URL typically makes it easier for you to remember it, allowing you to reuse the URL without breaking a sweat.

If you do decide to enter a custom a URL, be sure to pick something that is available and easy to remember; I used a combination of the site and my email:

Once you have entered your e-mail address and (optionally) a custom URL, just hit Protect my email. You’ll be redirected to a success page:

Now whenever you want to share your e-mail address publicly, simply provide the “scrimmed” URL instead of your actual e-mail address!

Finding someone else’s scrimmed email address

Protection is a great thing, except when it gets in the way of usage. Luckily, finding someone’s email from their scr.im URL is as simple as visiting their scr.im address and clicking the correct CAPTCHA:

If you’re a bot you click on the wrong one you won’t get the email…

…but if you’re not a bot you click the correct one, you’ll be given the email address and be told the number of views the email address has gotten:

What scr.im protects you against and what it doesn’t

Scr.im will protect you against spambots that harvest e-mails. Even if a spambot figures an e-mail address is hidden behind the scr.im URL, the CAPTCHA humanity check ensures the spambot will not get very far.

On the other hand, scr.im does not provide you with 100% protection against spammers. If a spammer were to manually harvest e-mails (i.e not use a spambot but instead use a real person that goes around and gathers e-mail addresses), they could easily pass the humanity check and get your e-mail address because, well, they are humans. So don’t think scr.im makes publicly sharing e-mail addresses 100% risk free. It does, however, make it 99% risk free before 99% of spammers use spambots to harvest e-mails. (Okay I made up the two 99% statistics, but I get you get my point.)

Scr.im Privacy Policy

While reading this article I am sure the following thought came to your mind: “Okay, scr.im saves my e-mail from spammers… but will scr.im itself do anything with my e-mail address?” Obviously since dotTech doesn’t own or run scr.im, we cannot guarantee what scri.im will or will not do your e-mail address. However, their privacy policy does state the following:

We hate spam as much as you do. For this reason, we will never sell, rent, give, tattoo or yell any email address stored within our database. Period.

If you or someone else inopportunely add your email address to our system, there’s no need to contact us to ask for a removal. Just don’t use your “scrimmed” (aka protected) email. We never will.

Conclusion

Sharing your email address publicly online exposes you to the risk of being spammed. With scr.im, highly mitigate that risk. Hit up the link below to access scr.im:

Supported browsers: Any competent browser that can access the Internet. In other words, every browser except Internet Explorer.

Scr.im homepage

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25 comments

  1. .mau.

    @wombat: thanks! I already tried a system like convertpdftoimage, but it is useless when you have to compile a form. The idea of Soodonims to allow a standard leading part is really interesting!

  2. wombat

    @.mau

    Never tried it, but soodonims.com sounds like what you’re after.

    From their blurb:

    “Protect your inbox and receive only the mail you want — using unlimited disposable email addresses forwarded to your account.
    Enable and disable particular senders from reaching you .”

    One other way of hiding your email address is to convert it into a graphic.

    http://www.convertpdftoimage.com/ has a free program that converts PDFs (Open Office etc.) to a jpg that can be inserted in a message. Again, I’ve not tried it myself.

  3. .mau.

    a mildly related question: is there any site which provides the same service as the defunct kasmail.com, i.e. lets you create and manage email address which are redirected to the real one? I know of mailinator, but it’s a bit different, or at least I cannot figure how to forward mail automatically to my mailbox.

  4. WobblyWombat

    @Locutus: I was thinking more of bypass techniques than OCR, but it’s certainly not my area of expertise – it’s a moot point really, no system is foolproof in this regard WikiP reckons some are using cheap labor to crack captchas… it’s inevitably a whole lot better than posting your email “naked”! :)

  5. WobblyWombat

    Excellent! Thanks Locutus, nice find. I’ve needed somthing like this to share my email on a forum that only allows 5 PMs in the inbox.

    I like to see sites written in friendly not-too-serious or self-important language, like the

    “Terms of Use

    Don’t be a dork and this free service will stay forever.”

    I like the point’n’click CAPTCHA too (although I’m not sure how secure it is)

  6. a simple happy man

    Statistical statements can be misunderstood.

    Like the one that says it has been proven statistically that there are only 10 types of people in the world:

    those that understand binary and those that don’t