What to Expect From Your Web Forms

Posted by Steve Kenley on May 27, 2015 9:00:00 AM

Stopping spammers from web forms

Web forms on your website can be very helpful tools. They can be used to gather data about potential customers or give current customers a convenient option to ask for help. On the other hand, they can be the source of some inconveniences as well. Spam is an ever-increasing problem, and having web forms on your site is an invitation to spammers everywhere to fill your inboxes with garbage.

What is a Spambot?

A spambot is an automated computer program designed to assist in the sending of spam emails or populate website forms. These programs continue to get more intelligent and now people have become a big part of spamming in recent years. Where there is cheap labor, people can be hired at an extremely low cost to do nothing but fill out forms and send emails.

Can Spammers Be Stopped?

recaptcha_pic

At one time, the most effective way to block spam bots was to use some form of captcha. (seen on the right) The most effective form of captcha uses an image for the user to identify. A spam bot will not be able to read the image and will likely fail the captcha authentication. However, this poses an accessibility problem on your site, as those who are seeing impaired may not be able to pass the authentication either. With the ever-growing importance of website accessibility, Captcha has become more complicated and is viewed as an annoying inconvenience for those legitimate users that just want to fill out your form to get more information. We don’t want our customer leads to be annoyed before they even get started.

There are other options. As technology continues to improve, many spam blocking services have become more popular, and are very effective and reliable. These services are typically invisible to the users and track user behavior parameters. These parameters are analyzed by the service and a decision is made to accept the message or reject it as spam. Databases are maintained to identify and store email addresses, IP addresses, and other telling properties, making it faster and easier to detect spam messages and reject them. These systems are always "learning" and are still not perfect but have become very effective over the past several years. Cleantalk is one such service that is very affordable and effective.

When you have web forms on your site, expect to get some spam. A combination of several different spam blocking methods can slow them down, but it will be impossible to block them completely.

Steve Kenley

Written by Steve Kenley

Steve is a senior developer with a B.S. in IT Software Engineering and an M.S. in IT and Web Design. He's been keeping things running smoothly at Tribute Media since 2012.

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