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I do have an email address in my profile, however its a png (safe from 99% of spambots). The profile page promises never to publicly show my email adress too, but only use it for gravatar. The datatumps shouldn't contain this data either.

However, I just received the following mail (actually received it twice). It looks like someone is spamming SO users:

Hello to all of you { Brian Rasmussen , Lasse V. Karlsen , Jes­per Alf Dam , Fredrik Mörk , Thomas ten Cate , Heinrich Moser , Barry Kelly , Wim Coenen, Steven, Edward Tanguay David , Johannes Rudolph, Filip Ekberg , Anders Abel, Eoin Campbell, Jonas Elfström , Jaap de Haan , Aasmund Eldhuset ,Roland Bouman } I have no idea how to start but let me try - My Name is Sourav Das. I call myself an Enterprise Architect at T&C Vectors. ( www.Tcvectors.com ). Now a couple of us have been working on research and development , Systems development etc etc for the last few years and we have made some breakthroughs in Science and Technology. Now when I tell people about T&C Vectors I tell them this -

About T&C Vectors T&C Vectors is a Next Generation Specialist Systems company with a extremely strong background in Research and new breakthrough technology solutions. It is working on the theme of building a smarter World. T&C Vectors is the only enterprise/Institution in the world that claims to have pioneered a full fledged science on it's own called - Super Fractal Engineering.It is also the First Institution in the world to claim breakthroughs in the Field of Artificial Intelligence.

It has a very strong foundation built solely on Intellectual property and it's solutions are fundamentally paradigm shifting in their technique. ( i.e. Solutions that do not exist on this Planet ). All details about the company is available at - http://www.Tcvectors.com The technology solutions we are working on are available at - http://www.Tcvectors.com/Systems.aspx

Our Core Solution is called Inter-Xect - http://www.inter-xect.com - An artificially intelligent System that is a multi dimensional Information search system + an Engagement system . The How it works page describes how Inter-Xect works. - http://www.inter-xect.com/Help.aspx Innovation and Intellectual Property I can assure you that we are sure we are working on the Biggest, most scalable and most innovative solutions on this planet

We can also assure you that our Intellectual Property - a New science called Super fractal Engineering is so wide that it fundamentally changes the foundations of a Multitude of subjects like computer science , Software engineering, Systems Engineering,Enterprise Architecture, Management etc Some of the details of the IP are available at this link for a free download - http://www.tcvectors.com/Iqshift.aspx

Now I'll tell you the worst things about T&C Vectors - Its a Zero Dollars company - Absolutely No funding , no office space right now to accomodate people. That doesn't deter us from telling people that we have a blueprint for a fortune 10 company. I found all of you at StackOverflow - and most of you at first glance seemed to have very impressive profiles. So I was thinking on the lines of getting in touch with you all, to form some kind of an Informal team or network. ( I am not offering you a Job ). The idea is that if we are able to form a team and work towards a goal informally or part time, we might be able to create a full time company. Believe me - You can have a look at the career section at our website to find that we are not exactly employers of sorts. We are Looking at hardworking and passionate engineers to work with us to create a brilliant new future. Feel free to cotact me at this email if you might be interested and then we could interact on skype to see how we could proceed further.
regards Sourav T&C Vectors

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12  
Have you considered the possibility that somebody went through the users directory manually looking for StackOverflow users who mention their email address? I checked and Brian Rasmussen also states his email address in his profile, didn't bother looking up the others. If you do that, PNG or not - spam can happen and Jeff cannot help you. –  Wladimir Palant Sep 21 '11 at 14:41
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It's hard to resist the urge to edit all that spam out of your question, btw. –  Frédéric Hamidi Sep 21 '11 at 14:43
    
I like reCAPTCHA Mailhide. I probably don't care about being contacted by anyone who can't or won't complete one. Although it won't help in the case of "manual spam".. –  thirtydot Sep 21 '11 at 14:50
11  
The hell. Where's my name in that list??? All I get is peckerpill spam. –  Won't Sep 21 '11 at 14:57
    
If you don't want to be contacted by anyone, don't put your e-mail address where it can be seen. Like @WladimirPalant I checked a couple of the other users mentioned and they also have their e-mails visible in the profile. –  ChrisF Sep 21 '11 at 15:00
4  
@Won'tಠ_ಠ The spammers know their audience. * runs * –  Matthew Read Sep 21 '11 at 15:35
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@MatthewRead: Open up your junk folder, let's see what's in there. Note, I said junk folder, not junk holder. –  Won't Sep 21 '11 at 15:51
2  
I hate to be the one to break it to you, @Won'tಠ_ಠ, but you're not good enough for a future Fortune 10 company. –  Pops Sep 21 '11 at 16:37
    
Hm, I feel like I've seen a "I got spam at an address I use for SO" post recently, but I can't find it. See also this older one. –  Pops Sep 21 '11 at 16:47
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@PopularDemand: Pfft, I get offers to help move literally millions of dollars from offshore bank accounts every single day. Obviously your assessment of my worth is way off. –  Won't Sep 21 '11 at 17:11
1  
@Won't So you know my cousin in Rwanda, then? –  squillman Sep 21 '11 at 17:41
    
Johannes Rudolph is Sourav of T&C Vectors Fame and he just managed to get his spam on Meta post and managed to avoid having all the links killed. Seriously though maybe someone with edit priv should remove the links. –  Some Helpful Commenter Sep 21 '11 at 19:22
1  
@squillman, I didn't know that Pekka was your cousin! Or that he was in Rwanda. –  Pops Sep 21 '11 at 19:28
    
@Won't Well, there is admittedly gray area there but he brings in a CRAPLOAD of money so we just go ahead and claim him. –  squillman Sep 21 '11 at 19:32
1  
@Conrad, the links are nofollow and this is meta. They're mostly harmless here. –  Frédéric Hamidi Sep 21 '11 at 20:21

3 Answers 3

up vote 22 down vote accepted

Looking through the profiles listed, most of them display their email address directly in their profile. Many of the others have links to their blogs or company sites where more information is available. I can't even find a few of the user names listed on Stack Overflow. If you don't want to be contacted, please remove your email address from public view.

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The thing that worries me: "Most". I dont have a problem with the occassional spam, but if SO were to have a leak I would want to know. Other than that, I received the email twice with a different set of recipients each time. While I wouldnt disregard that it was done manually, it looks a bit too automated to me. –  Johannes Rudolph Sep 21 '11 at 16:09
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@JohannesRudolph Gravatar may be where the rest of the email addresses are coming from (those that can't be explained by simply being displayed in the user's own profile, or on a page directly linked to in their profile). See Is using Gravatar a security risk? –  Bill the Lizard Sep 21 '11 at 16:50
    
Thanks for the link and reassuring me that SO handles my data responsibly. All that I was worried about is that mailings like this become a regular annoyance. –  Johannes Rudolph Sep 22 '11 at 5:23
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Just for the record, @Johannes: In my SE profiles I'm not displaying any email address, nor any link to some website, nor my last name. And I'm using a SE-specific email address on these sites (in the non-publicly visible profile data). I've never received any spam on that private email address at all. –  Arjan Sep 25 '11 at 11:07

I'm not sure what you expect SE to do, as you put your email address yourself into your profile. Even though it is an image, it is not perfectly safe as you now experienced.

The profile mail is not shown anywhere except to moderators of the site (and even then only on demand). This looks more like someone manually extracted mails out of SO profiles, then even an image is no problem. I see no reasonable way to protect against that except for not putting the mail address anywhere in the profile.

Now, if someone who doesn't have the mail address listed anywhere gets this spam, this might indicate that the mail addresses are leaked somewhere, but in this case with the address in the profile I would tend to regard the profile as the likelier source of the mail address.

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There is absolutely no way I can think of that we'd be exposing email addresses.

As others have noted, be careful about putting your email in your "About Me" field if you are concerned about unwanted email contact.

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1  
True. Like I commented above: in my SE profiles I'm not displaying any email address, nor any link to some website, nor my last name. And I'm using a SE-specific email address on these sites (in the non-publicly visible profile data). I've never received any spam on that private email address at all. –  Arjan Sep 25 '11 at 11:08

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