Thursday, 14 March 2013

Short email addresses

As some of you know I use a very short email address. It is only 6 characters long. I also use a specific email address per web site or contact, but that is @ and a short domain, only 4 characters. This allows me to see who has leaked my email to spammers.

Lets pretend my email is x@x.xx and daft web sites get daftwebsite@x.xx as an email address. I don't plan to put my email addressess on a web site for fear of more spam, obviously...

Both of these cause problems from time to time.

One is the social/real issue of people not understanding that you can have a short email address. You quote it as x@x.xx and they go "what, .com?" and do not understand. This is normally OK as they accept what you say and it leads to fun conversations.

What is worse is web sites not believing the email addresses. The issue is that web developers make their own rules for checking an email address syntax. Instead of actually using the rules in the RFCs, which are clear and well understood and have been around for many years, they make up rules themselves based on email addresses they have seen. Some will not allow email addresses less than a certain length, and some do not allow domains that are too short. The rules they make are arbitrary and wrong, which is stupid.

It is very frustrating for me and most of my family and several people I know. All of my familily have email addresses of the form x@x.xx. The domain we use is not cheap, but it works and saves a lot of typing :-)

What is classic is that most of these web sites then have a contact form, which asks your email address. Most of these do not have the same checks, and allow a complaint using the email address they do not like. Needless to say I have had people email me at x@x.xx saying x@x.xx is not valid and getting a reply from me...

Some notable sites that get it wrong are the tax disk renewal web site, and, until recently, I was shocked today as I complained two days ago, and today I find they have fixed it and let me know they have fixed it. This is a first - actually listening to me and fixing the brokenness.

I do have special email addresses using for this reason...

So, well done BACS.


  1. I have a .info domain and am amazed at how many sites don't accept .info as being valid. This includes brand new "cloud" services that have sprung up within the past 2 years.

  2. A lot of sites don't like my address with a perfectly valid single quote in the local part of the email address. I occasionally give it out over the phone in the hope it will cause an amusing self inflicted sql injection attack when they type it into their system. (I'm not serious, but i bet it could work somewhere :) )

  3. That and the number of websites that don't like a perfectly valid plus sign in the local part of the address.

  4. I have

    from_website_rejects_valid_email_addresses @

  5. "What's your website?"

    As they start to type "w"

    I didn't say that, but it will work.

  6. I have a domain hack address for my email, designed tobe short and to emphasise the right way to spell my name, but I don't tend to use it when I need to write my email address by hand as I presume that people doing the data entry won't understand it, especially with my bad had writing!

  7. Be careful with the long versions too - not unheard of for databases to be erroneously using VARCHAR(64) for the email field :)

  8. Put in an incorrect address, then send them a letter demanding that they correct their records as the Data Protection Act requires them to.

  9. I've had email addresses rejected because they have a number in the domain (perfectly valid, I have had them for years) and what really gets up my goat is password-setups that have arbitrary rules for what a password should contain - the worst was one that wanted upper and lower case characters, digits, and to be between 6 and 8 characters long!

    Cheers, Howard

  10. I have quite a generic .org e-mail address which a not significant number of people happen to choose when thinking of an e-mail address to plug into a web form or for their computer. It doesn't affect me apart from increasing the amount of spam/unwanted e-mail which needs to be rejected and additional load on the DNS servers for my domain (from misconfigured PCs trying to update their details).

    However, many years ago, I tried to register on Paypal with my real e-mail address and I couldn't figure out why Paypal would not let me send money (or some problem like that which I've forgotten). I eventually worked out that it was my e-mail address that was the problem! I had to register using another e-mail address and then - once everything had been setup - change it to my usual e-mail address.

  11. I don't know your policy on swearwords on your blog, so I'll sanitise this example.

    I signed up to skysongs just to download some free mp3s.

    I suspected they might keep spamming me, and they did.

    After I'd asked them on three ocassions to stop emailing me, I wrote to the ICO's office to ask them to get Sky to stop emailing skyspammingc**

    The emails stopped shortly thereafter.

    1. LOL, You should see some of the domains I own - would have *'s in them... Well done.

    2. I've now asked AAISP to take over my ADSL connection.

      I thought it easiest to just sign up as