To send me e-mail, manually write my address (see below) in your e-mail software (you won't be able to copy-and-paste the address below). Note also that I shall change my address as soon as someone will start to spam it, so check this page for my current address if an older one does not seem to work anymore:
Does my e-mail address look strange? In case you wonder why, this is a "captcha" that makes it impossible for automated software to read it, but you should have no difficulty to read it correctly.
I try to reply to all relevant and sensible e-mail, although I may do so after quite some time. I may however be working or traveling, and sometimes I may be forced to give my e-mail a low priority.
In the past, I have been forced to change my main e-mail address every few months, to limit the amount of spam and malware. Spam is less of a problem these days, but malware in attachments or web links remains an (easily avoided) threat. Nigerian letters are a particular class of spam that may sometime have interesting or amusing characteristics (I discuss a few examples here).
How do spammers harvest e-mail addresses?
Spammers use web spiders (which are automated programs similar to those used by Google and other legitimate web search engines) to read web pages and extract e-mail addresses. This is a simple task, because an e-mail address always has the format email@example.com.
Often, the address is accompanied by an HTML link in the format <a href = "mailto: somename@ domainname. topdomain">, like the above example. Once a large number of addresses are collected, they can be verified by other automatic programs (to eliminate fake addresses, or addresses that no longer work), and used for spamming. For this reason, I am not writing my e-mail address here in a form that can be read easily by a spider.
E-mail addresses can also be harvested by breaching your computer's security. The most common method is by infecting your computer with malicious software, usually sent to you as an e-mail attachment, or downloaded by a specially written web page you may visit while web-surfing. This software will read the address book of your e-mail software, and send all addresses to an Internet server controlled by spammers. In some cases, malicious software can convert your computer into a mail server that sends out spam on a continuous basis. You may suspect that this is the case if your computer slows down excessively and generates significant amounts of Internet traffic without any obvious reason (note that many programs generate moderate amounts of Internet traffic, usually on an occasional basis, for perfectly good reasons like searching and downloading updates).
In some cases, e-mail addresses are even manually harvested from author's addresses in scientific and technical journals made available to students in university libraries, especially in third-world countries. In a few cases, I noticed a brief "spike" in Nigerian letters to one of my public e-mail addresses a few months after I published a scientific paper on an international journal. I decided to test this by "seeding" some of my scientific publications with e-mail addresses that I did not make public anywhere else, and indeed, a few months after publication (there are unavoidable delays in the distribution of paper-printed journals), I did receive a handful of Nigerian letters sent to these addresses. Most likely, university staff and/or students were using their institutional libraries to manually harvest the addresses of scientists and target them with Nigerian letters.