Google has just released the reCAPTCHA Mailhide API for web app developers as a means of fighting spam. For end users this means good news and waiting for developers to get on-board with it. Granted, anything that uses CAPTCHA is predisposed to be frowned upon but there are two things worth mentioning here; CAPTCHA does indeed help stop bots, and Google, the company that has identified 10/10 times that the email from a Nigerian Prince’s or that one telling you’ve won the lottery both belong in the spam folder, has developed this. The API is meant to hide email addresses in apps that list them by having a user enter a CAPTCHA code before they can view the email address. Where it’s a great security feature for web app developers to use, it’s also a great tool for anyone that needs to post their email address publicly on a personal and/or business website.
The API can be used by developers but that doesn’t mean it is completely useless for end users. If you have your own website, then you can use reCAPTCHA Mailhide to protect your email address.
To use reCAPTCHA Mailhide to hide your personal email, paste it in the email field and click ‘Protect it’. reCAPTCHA Mailhide will give you a URL and an HTML embed code. The embed code is used to post your email address on a public space such as your website but the code keeps it hidden so that only the first word and the email domain is visible. Anyone who clicks on the email address will have to enter the CAPTCHA code given. If the code entered is correct, the user will be redirected to the URL given in the URL field where the email address will be fully visible.
The API is pretty good for two reasons; it helps prevent spam for everyone and it puts us at ease when we have to post our email address online. Even if have a separate email for sharing with the public, you can do without spam being sent to that account so the app and the API are a win. What would be really great is if companies like Facebook thought of stuff like this before making your email public.