N/A for Required E-mail Addresses on Online Forms

Is there any consensus on the proper way to fill out required e-mail address fields in online forms as not applicable? The systems usually check that the e-mail address is a valid form, so I end up entering something to the effect of, “notreal@address.com,” to fool the system. I don’t like doing this. What if that is someone’s address? This situation most often arises for me when filling out mandatory references on applications. Sometimes a reference only uses a phone for business contact. I’ve tried googling for an answer, but my generally top notch google skills just aren’t doing the job today.

I think what you did wasn’t bad, and probably doesn’t exist. If you want to be a little safer just make up a more obscure e-mail. Like 7d92jd9@sd9ask3.com. Hit random letters on your keyboard, just keep it in the <something>@<somethingelse>.com format to make sure the form will accept it.

One thing to try would be to use a final “.something” where something is not valid. This will work if the checkers do not bother to check to see if the final portion is valid. I would suspect they do not do this check as new suffixes are added from time to time.

You legitimately can use example.com as a domain. It is reserved so that it can be used for documentation examples and stuff like that. Email sent to that domain won’t go to anyone.

example.com is the canonical test domain. Use that when you want a safe dummy address for anything. So something like test@example.com or username@example.com would work.

example.com is reserved by the IANA (Internet Assigned Numbers Authority) for use as examples, similar to the way “555” numbers are reserved in the phone system to be used as fake phone numbers that still have the right format. I usually use “fake@example.com” if I’m prompted for an e-mail address for, say, airport wi-fi access.

ETA: And I see I’m not the only one who does this.


[nitpick] 555 is reserved for phone company use. It’s used in movies and such because it will never be a real person’s phone number, and they won’t be sued over it. AT&T used to recommend the practice for that reason. [/nitpick]

Anything at mailinator.com will effectively black hole. It’s really more of a gray hole- mailinator addresses are publicly viewable, but who cares if someone can read spam?


I prefer to use root@site, so that the site asking for my address will get all of the spam they promise not to send. So, for example, if I’m filling out a form on example.com, I’ll enter the email address root@example.com. postmaster@site is also a good one. This works much more often than not. Any well run site will refuse these reserved addresses, but most sites are not well run.

This is what mailinator.com is for.

You can put ANYTHINGYOUWANT@mailinator.com as an email address. As soon as an email arrives, a mailbox with that name will be created at mailinator.com and you can go over there and read the mail. You do not have to register before using it, you do not have to set up the mailbox in advance.

Note that this is totally insecure since you don’t need a password to read the email. Also, a lot of web sites that require email addresses for no good reason are programmed to reject this address. The mail is kept for a few hours and then deleted.

But that doesn’t really solve the OP’s problem. I think he wants an email address that makes it obvious that the person to whom he is giving the address shouldn’t try using it. For example, you don’t want a prospective employer to send a query to “fakeaddress@example.com” asking about your work history at your previous employer and then rejecting you because nobody answers.

[nitpicknitpick] 555-01xx is reserved for entertainment industry use. See ATIS-0300048 555 NXX ASSIGNMENT GUIDELINES Section 4.6 (Word document). In 1994 during the height of the great phone-number-shortage scare, the rest of the 555 numbers were released for “special purpose” assignment. The special purposes that were envisioned were regional or national cross-NPA services. The example everyone uses is a number like “555-TAXI” that you could dial from any area code in order to reach a taxi cab service. In practice, this idea fizzled much like the 700 and 500 area codes (Service Access Codes) since 800 numbers worked just as well.

Pre-1994 movies may still feature 555 phone numbers outside the 555-01xx range.[/nitpicknitpick]

Interesting, thanks. I never found out the details as a phreak in the early 80s. I only knew that 555s were always phreakable telco numbers, if they worked at all.

I just use asdf@asdf.com. It’s a lot easier to type than anything@example.com, and the domain owner obviously knows about it and probably doesn’t care. It’s likely just disabled altogether.

Link doesn’t work.

The operative word here is “probably”. My habit is to translate “probably doesn’t” as “very well might”.

For example, if you apply for a vanity license plate for your car, make very sure that the text you’ve chosen doesn’t already have some significant meaning.


Actually, 555 is only one of hundreds of “area codes” (phonespeake: NPA National Prefix Area) TPC uses - it is special in that (it is believed) to be unreachable by any phone - it is strictly a code the switching equipment uses internally.

For those who remember the great panic when we were going to run out of Area Codes?
Originally, an area code had either a 0 or a 1 in the second position. If the second digit was 0 or 1, the switches knew to treat it as an NPA; any other digit was the 2nd of a 7 digit local number.
This absolute rule created all kinds of problems, most notably:

  1. Many PBX machines were actually hard-wired to recognize only those NPAs - if fed an area code of 525, it would consider it and the next 4 digits as a local number and initiated dialing before the number was completed. All that equipment had to be scrapped.
  2. TPC felt it could use every NPA which did NOT have a 0 or 1 in second place as an internal code for its own use. And they used every last one (or real close). It took thousands of person-hours of work to clear those new area codes popping up.

I tried actually going to example.com - interesting!

The reason all long-distance calls (more precisely: calls out of your own area code) must begin with a ‘1’ prefix, is to alert the switching equipment that the next three digits are an area code. That’s why the ‘1’ is there.

It wasn’t always that way. Back in the day, when all area codes had 0 or 1 as the second digit, it wasn’t necessary to dial 1 first. In the mid-1970’s or so, phone companies began to require that initial 1 digit before an area code.

It was almost comical for a while. I lived in the San Francisco Bay Area at the time. My phone company (Pac Bell IIRC) couldn’t make up their mind. I recall there was some ambiguity, and over a period of a year or so they sent out several notices (included on or with phone bills) in which they changed their minds a few times as to whether long-distance calls should be prefixed with a 1 or not.