How much of your email is form spam? Is your form driving more contacts or giving bots something to crawl?
I switched over to a contact form a few months ago. Over the months I have noticed an increase in email contact and an increase in spam, something that I never received before. This left me in a bit of a conundrum. I am glad people are contacting me more frequently. I don’t like the spam. So I set out to see what I could do to remedy the situation.
Why I use a contact form
- Captures information – You decide what is important to you, like name and website, then incorporate that into your form.
- Build an email list – Everytime someone emails you, you are adding to your database of emails.
- Always gets to the right person – Sometimes on a business website, when you send an email, you are not always sure it is going to the right person. Or if the email is going to the president or owner, you might be reluctant to email because of the person’s position. The form makes sure that it is going to the right person and removes the intimidation factor.
Since I have started using the contact form over just a simple email address, I have started receiving more emails from people. Whether it be people interested in guest blogging, potential clients or people who want to network. Previously my contact page was my general email address (firstname.lastname@example.org) but it seems that a general “info” email address is too impersonal. It does not seem like the email is going to a real person, whereas a contact form is directed.
The spam has been driving me crazy!
Say no to Spam
The most common way to eliminate spam is to use a Captcha.
Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart – oh yes, that is what the acronym stands for. Now you know why everyone just calls it Captcha.
How it works – an image on screen is a combination of letters and/or numbers. You type what you read into a box. When you submit the text, if it matches the image you are verified.
Problem – Spam bots can now use this too. It was only a matter of time before spam bots would figure out how to recognize the letters and numbers. So this is no longer a foolproof way around spam, because bots are spydering the forms and getting around the Captcha. Many people find them to be annoying and frustrating, so you might have people who do not email you because of your Captcha.
Benefit – Though it does not catch all spam bots, it does significantly reduce the number of them that can successfully crawl your site. Since I have started using it, my spam email has decreased by 70%. It is also easy to use. Most of the contact form widgets integrate easily with Captcha.
Images are also being utilized for Captcha, where you are asked to identify a picture from a word or phrase.
They are also working on SAT style Captcha where they ask you to pick out a word that does not belong in a set.
The newer way to identify humans is to offer a simple math problem.
How it works – Incorporated into forms is a small box that asks you a question like:
2 + 4 = ?
You simply do the math and answer the question.
Problem – The problem with this is it is not available in custom form plugins. You can use it in comment forms on registrations. But you cannot assign it to a set page, or integrate it with a contact form through a plugin. You can integrate it if you are willing to do the CSS coding, but if you are using widgets you are out of luck. The widgets are currently only integrated with Captcha.
Benefit – The bots don’t seem to be able to do simple math. You will eliminate your bot-based form spam.
I added the Captcha to my contact form because it did reduce about 70% of my spam. I would have preferred to use the math, but since I choose to utilize plugins to increase the ease and functionality of my site it won’t integrate. This is a shame, but in the meantime I’m satisfied with reduced spam and the knowledge that I am a source of frustration for some Spam bots!