Comments and Code – Obfuscator 2

As part of my ongoing online response to some great questions, I offer the following request by Colin Kuskie, webmaster for the Sunset Presbyterian Church:

Hi Dean,

My name is Colin Kuskie, and I’m Sunset Presbyterian Church’s
volunteer webmaster/hostmaster. I’m planning on moving our website,, to a CMS, and I’d like to help secure staff
and member email addresses against spam by using your obfuscator
as a macro, but I couldn’t find anywhere to download the code from
your site.

Is it publicly available, and if so, could you please give me a
pointer as to how to find it?

Thank you,

p.s. Thank you very much for your online minstry. It’s one of
the things that convinced me to go to a CMS, and then to teach
myself CSS in order to implement it. I pray that God will you
your website to enable other churches to reach out with God’s
message to the world.

How can I say no to a request like that? So I emailed Colin back with the response “… Colin, stop it, my ego is already ‘well maximized’ enough!” … Actually, that’s not what I said, but I thought it might be fun to share a little opera singer humor with you. Go ahead, ask your minister of music about their well-optimized ego … but I digress …

Actually, my first response to Colin was “Macro? For what system?.” This wasn’t out of any suspicion, but more out of curiosity, and more out of concern that my original obfuscator hack wouldn’t integrate all that well as it was built into an online form generated using CGI.PM. Colin responded that he intends to integrate the code behind the Mean Dean Anti-Spam E-Mail Obfuscator(MDA-SE-MO) into a macro for a Perl-based content manglement system (CMS) named WebGUI. A robust system I’ve played with once or twice before, but don’t let my ease-of-use fool you. This is one CMS that requires you know Perl, paths and your site map before you go shooting your foot off of with it … but I digress …

CMS sorties aside, Colin’s question reminded me of this sage advice she’d offer whenever I’d leave the house: “make sure you have on clean underwear.” Not that it would help if the last thing I ever saw was an oncoming cement truck … but I digress …

So, if I’m going to put my code ‘out there,’ I had better tidy it up a bit, and put it into a easy to deploy, use and maintain Perl module. This way, he could use it for WebGUI, and I could use it for an upcoming MovableType plug-in … unless one of you kind souls comes up with it first … but I digress …

I also figured if I as going to put it ‘out there,’ I might as well add an option that might really, truly drive spammer’s nutzo … that is to render the hyperlink as inline javascript. Yes, I know 12% of all browsers have Javascript disabled, but then again, how many people using wGet or Curl are actually interested in sending me email? That said, it is for such reasons that I have in the past advocated including a form-based email solution on your church or charity website. All the more so if you’re going to use the inline javascript option on Obfuscator … but perhaps this tangent is better left as a topic for later discussion?

Anyway, below is the code for the new perl module behind the slightly improved online demonstration of the MDA-SE-MO:

Yes, this obfuscator isn’t nearly as dastardly as the very cool and very effective online offering from HiveWare (hat tip to Mark Pilgrim) … perhaps by putting the code ‘out there’ … someone will come up with an elegant “<noscript>” solution. I’ve already got one person who’s keen on optimizing the regular expressions … Colin, thank you.