Email Addresses Don’t Belong in Comment Bodies

Date Mon, September 10 2012

AKA What You Give Away for That Giveaway

No Email

Think before you publicly post your email address.

I see it all the time because I enter giveaways and host them myself. John Smith enters a giveaway and, in the comment of his body, he leaves his email address:john.w.smith@email-provider.com. After all, he wants to know if he’s won, right? John enters four times, and every time he leaves his email address. He doesn’t protect it. It’s just an email address. What can go wrong? Honestly, leaving email addresses in open forums is potentially dangerous, and no one should do it. This is why I will always respond to giveaway entrants who leave theirs, politely telling them that it’s dangerous and they don’t need to.

  1. Your comment form already has that information for you to find if you use WordPress, Disqus and many other comment/blog platforms. Rafflecopter and other giveaway scripts also ask for that information. Blogger is the only platform that doesn’t (but you can use Disqus with Blogger or switch to a better blog service, anyway). Every opportunity exists for you to safely collect this information.
  2. Spammers can use those email addresses to inundate your poor entrants, especially if they don’t specially form their email addresses a la user [at] emailhost [dot] com. Isn’t that just the ugliest thing you’ve ever seen? If you’re not using that hideous format, then giveaways might be the very reason that you log in to hundreds of spam messages every day.
  3. There is no standard for forming email addresses in a way that protects them and makes them easy to use.
  4. Emails are the key to accounts. If your entrant uses a Gmail or Apple address, itĀ bringsĀ hackers one step closer to accessing smartphones and other devices. In the worst case scenario, someone’s phone, tablet and computer could be wiped. Users can lose access to their email, social network and other accounts. An email address could be the key to a PayPal, Amazon or bank account. We should be protecting our information, our money and our identities, and our email addresses are permanently a part of that for better or worse. This it, then, the ultimate reason that asking for or leaving your email address in the comment body for a giveaway–or any other reason–is unnecessarily risky if not downright stupid.

If after reading this, you want to start using a giveaway script, switch to Disqus or simply changes the rules of your giveaway, then you should do exactly that. If you’ve already been considering a move, then here’s just one more reason to motivate the change. And if you enter a giveaway and the host asks for email address in the body of the comment, feel free to send them to my Reviews by Cole.

7 Responses

  1. Minta September 16 2012 @ 12:12 pm

    Wow! This is definitely abut me because I’m always leaving my email address. Thanks so much for the warning..sometimes it’s just an automatic response to leave your email so that if you win they can find you.

  2. Beeb Ashcroft September 16 2012 @ 12:35 pm

    The entry process for blog giveaways has definitely been simplified in recent years with most people using Rafflecopter and/or other blogging platforms that don’t reveal email addresses.

  3. Terri September 16 2012 @ 5:36 pm

    Great points! Thanks for sharing!

  4. Grace Hodgin September 16 2012 @ 6:35 pm

    I have seen some leave e-mail addresses over a period of time. I think rafflecopter does decrease this from happening though.

  5. CJ September 16 2012 @ 8:03 pm

    Such an important message! A relative of mine didn’t know she shouldn’t do this and you wouldn’t believe the awful spam and weirdos she heard from!

  6. daisy September 16 2012 @ 8:08 pm

    Oh, I learned my lesson about this one a while back!

  7. Pam September 18 2012 @ 8:32 am

    I totally agree. I am so sick of stupid spammers. I won’t leave my email address in the comment line for contests.

Leave a Reply