I saw a question with a (probably) real e-mail-address and asked first myself, now you:

Should it be forbidden to write a (real?) e-mail-address in an question/answer? Otherwise it would be the ideal resource for spambots to aquire e-mail-addresses...

  • Did you edit out the email address in the question?
    – yannis
    Sep 26 '12 at 7:16
  • No, because I wasn't sure if it was explicitly allowed or disallowed (did not found anything about this topic in the stackvoerflow.com-FAQ)
    – alexclooze
    Sep 26 '12 at 7:18
  • 1
    I do not understand your question...if you post your e-mail address you know what you're doing. And posting the address of someone else needs to be purge/evaluated on per happening basis...the consensus is: Don't post e-mail addresses unless absolute necessary...which is pretty much never. Sep 26 '12 at 7:21
  • Can you provide a link to the post?
    – jmort253
    Sep 26 '12 at 7:23
  • If the address is part of an signature, purge it! Sep 26 '12 at 7:26
  • stackoverflow.com/questions/12596327/… <- already commented out. It was not part of a signature.
    – alexclooze
    Sep 26 '12 at 7:33
  • possible dupe: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/132117/…
    – tombull89
    Sep 26 '12 at 9:59
  • @akluth Actually in that case it was a part of the signature.
    – Servy
    Sep 26 '12 at 15:31
  • Related: Can I give out my e-mail here?
    – Pops
    Sep 26 '12 at 15:50

In most cases, I'd say that if you see an email address in a question or answer, it should probably be edited out. The goal of Stack Overflow is to create a resource of knowledge to help people for years to come, and this means the focus is squarely on questions and answers.

If I post a question and then ask people to email me the answers, this doesn't help future visitors. If I'm a spammer posting an email address so I can sell you my service, this creates a lot of noise that detracts from excellent Q&A. If I post my email address, at minimum, I'm opening the door for spammers to obtain my email address.

I can't really imagine a case where a person should put his or her contact information directly in a post. It's noise, and it should be removed.

With that said, for special circumstances, one could leave a comment pointing someone to his or her user profile as a place to leave contact information, that way the body of the post is left unmolested by noise. Furthermore, the comments can be deleted when they've served their purpose.

Lastly, if the purpose of the email address is to use a signature, this is explicitly mentioned in the FAQ on Use of Signatures:

Please don’t use signatures or taglines in your posts, or they will be removed.

Every post you make is already “signed” with your standard user card, which links directly back to your user page.

Your user page belongs to you — fill it with information about your interests, links to stuff you’ve worked on, or whatever else you like!

  • 1
    I agree with most of this, but I wouldn't edit an e-mail address out if it was being used in a way that didn't break any other rules. Instead, I'd probably leave a comment like "hey, FYI, you left what looks like a valid e-mail address in your code block" and leave it up to the OP.
    – Pops
    Sep 26 '12 at 15:09
  • Sure, @PopularDemand, I can go with that. I just can't think of any examples at the moment where there would be a legit reason to put an email address in a post; that doesn't mean there isn't a legit reason and we shouldn't use our heads though. ;)
    – jmort253
    Sep 27 '12 at 1:20

An email address should only be included in a question/answer if it is required as a part of asking that question/answer. For example a question such as, "How can I validate that a user entered value is in the correct format for an email?" might need to include email addresses for sample input in questions or answers. For this reason there should be no sort of automated processes for removing emails from questions/answers.

If someone is including their email in a question/answer because they want people to contact them, and not because the email itself is asking or answering a question then it is inappropriate and should be edited out.

  • If the e-mail address is being treated as data, as in your example, it's usually best to use a clearly invalid address like username@example.com. Sep 28 '12 at 1:25
  • @KeithThompson For trivial problems, sure, but for complex problems imgaine the case of something like, "I have this code [...] that validates emails, and it works properly on most of them, but this one email is coming through as a false negative and I can't figure out why."
    – Servy
    Sep 28 '12 at 13:38

It depends on the user's wish to put the real or imaginary e-mail address in the question. Again if you have given an email address then how can one know that whether it is real or not? It would be good if you don't use your real addresses as you said to prevent spam-bots to acquire email addresses.

  • 2
    If an email address is required in some code, it's better to use the domains the W3C has set up explicitly for that purpose: example.com, example.org, and example.net. They will all validate appropriately and any spam set there won't be received by anyone. I can't think of any reason why a "live" email address should be in any posts (as jmort253 has already eloquently said).
    – ale
    Sep 26 '12 at 15:20

If the email address is a real one to which the OP has access, then I would guess that (writing it) the user is saying "If you have any further question, or you want to privately contact me for giving me the solution, this is my email address." I don't see any other reason for writing an email address in a site where users are already replying on the site.

If the purpose is to be contacted for any related topic (e.g. offering to work as developer for the OP), then Stack Exchange is not the place for that; http://careers.stackoverflow.com is probably a better place.

I would not say it is forbidden, but it is information that is not necessary for answering the question. If the OP wants to discuss more in details about the question, or any related topic, there is the chat.

The OP is free to write his email address in forums he visits, with the risk of getting spam. Stack Exchange sites are not forums, and require the questions to give the information strictly necessary to answer on the site.

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