Recently one of our web site contributing members brought to the committee's attention that his e-mail and phone number information was appearing on search engine results. It was requested that the committee look into ways to safeguard personal contact information on our ranch web site to prevent it from being available to the world-wide-web.
Our web manager Patrick Roehl immediately researched this issue and came up with solutions that will address this problem and put our membership at ease regarding the security of their personal information on the web site.
To give us all some background on the fuction of search engines, Pat Roehl tells us that these search engines generally have two functions: Those like Google, Yahoo, Ask Jeeves, etc. "crawl" through every web page on every Internet site and catalog key words that can later be searched. These legitimate sites will honor special "tags" that webmasters place on the pages. (The tags can be used exclude certain pages or an entire web site from being searched.)
The other web crawlers are a bit slimier. They are primarily looking for e-mail addresses to sell to spammers. They can't be relied upon to honor those "do not search" tags. However, there are other ways to keep information from them.
Here is what has been done immediately to help contain our personal information. Those "do not disturb" tags have been placed on web site contributor's bio pages and the "points of contact" pages. This will cause most search engines to bypass just those pages.
As for e-mail harvesters, they rely on e-mail addresses being in the form of text like email@example.com. If we make e-mail addresses a graphic image, they won't be able to read them as text. This trick will work as long as the e-mail address is not a link. (e.g. firstname.lastname@example.org is a link. You can click on it to send an e-mail.) If the e-mail address is a link there is text for the crawler to swipe. (e.g. However, is a graphic image, not text, and also not a link.) Although an image may look just like text to the human eye, it's much more difficult for a web search engine to understand it.
A routine can be made to dynamically create those e-mail graphic images. However, said routine can not be implemented until the whole site is brought up to .Net (dot net) level. This is largely a behind-the-scenes process that our web manager most likely won't be able to complete for several months.
Pat has assured us that all subject matter on our web site that must be accessed by password is secure from these search engines and e-mail harvesters. The Communications Comittee wants to encourage all SFTR property owners to be a part of the Ranch data base and to be frequent users of the Ranch web site. You can rest assured that every measure will continue to be taken to protect your personal information from unauthorized acquisition.
If you have concerns about any private information visible on a "public" web page (one not requiring you to log into the site with your e-mail address and password), please let Pat know. Here is one of those nasty e-mail links that make it easy to send an e-mail to him: email@example.com