One of the blog readers asked me this question via email a couple of days back.

In your post about feed scraping you talked about contacting anonymous scrapers. How can I really do this?

Well, while using a contact form is the right way to do it, most scrapers will not maintain a contact page or even an about page with contact information. In such cases, you as a ‘scrapegoat’, can try one or more of the following tricks might work.

8 ways to contact a webmaster or find contact information

#1 Whois query

If the contact form is not there, the very first thing to try is the ‘whois’ query on the domain name. You can do this using free WHOIS services such as whois.ws. The registrant contact information there might give you the email address, phone number or even the complete address of the website owner. The whois.ws service works better than many other whois services in pulling out details of some of those anonymous entities.

#2 Alexa Siteinfo

Most of the blogs and websites are indexed by Alexa and they do a number of ways to extract out and display the email contact information of the webmaster in the Site Info page. You can access Site Info Contact Info page, via the following URL (replace ‘domain name’ with the your actual domain name)

http://www.alexa.com/siteinfo/domainname#contactinfo

#3 Subscribe to the blog RSS or newsletter by email

If the particular blog has Subscribe to updates / RSS / Newsletter Option, you can subscribe to the same using one of your temporary or junk email addresses. Most of the time the list building service (e.g. Feedburner) will have a sender email address which can be used to contact the blog author or webmaster. If you give your main email address or there is no unsubscribe option, it’s a double whammy.

#4 Send emails to typical email address patterns

Next, you can always try sending emails to standard webmaster email addresses such as:

admin@domainname.com

webmaster@domainname.com

contact@domainname.com

support@domainname.com

sales@domainname.com

author@domainname.com

mail@domainname.com

Even if these email addresses do not exist, there is a very good chance that the ‘catch all’ inbox picks your mail and hence it reaches the desired person.

#5 Blog Directory, forum search

Searching for the domain name on blog directories (e.g. Blog Catalog, MyBlogLog) can sometimes give you a listing and then you can contact the website owner using the contact links there. Once I successfully tracked down a scraper via BlogCatalog.

Similarly you can try searching social media and forum accounts as well. This is in fact a tedious process as many times a Google search wouldn’t be sufficient.

#6 Search Archive.org

Searching for old content of a particular blog in archives.org can sometimes fetch you old pages of the site which is hidden now. Some of these old pages might also include a contact page or even some email addresses mentioned somewhere. The success rate is very low in this method though.

#7 Search the web for given author name

Unless the author has given a fake public name, you can try searching the web for the particular name to see if it comes up with a public profile of the person on any of his online accounts. Typically bloggers and webmasters are technical people and they will have numerous online accounts and profiles. If you are lucky, you might find a profile that has a contact page.

#8 If the blogger has commented elsewhere contact them

If the particular scraper or blogger has commented elsewhere and if you are a friend or in the good books of that blogger, you can ask him to provide the scrapers email address. Well, it may be against the privacy policy, but at times we have no other go.

I am sure, there may be other methods if you are willing to play a little Sherlock Holmes role. Please share any other methods that you might know via comments here.

Happy Blogging!

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