Spam submissions on your website’s contact forms can be a major hindrance, not only cluttering your database but also causing confusion in your analytics and exposing your website to potential security risks. In this article, we aim to provide a clear understanding of what spam is, how it works, and the various countermeasures we implement to mitigate its effects. However, it’s important to recognize that while these measures are highly effective, they may not be able to completely eliminate all spam.
Spam, in the context of web forms, generally refers to irrelevant or inappropriate messages sent over the Internet to a large number of recipients, often for advertising, phishing, spreading malware, or simply to cause nuisance. Bots or spammers usually automate this process, targeting contact forms on websites to send these unwarranted messages. These can lead to a flood of irrelevant submissions that can make it challenging to identify legitimate entries.
Anti-Spam Measures We Implement
ReCAPTCHA: We use ReCAPTCHA systems, which present tasks that are easy for humans but difficult for bots such as the checkbox asking whether or not you are a human.
Form Validation: We enforce stringent form validation rules, making it harder for spammers to submit content. For instance, we might require phone numbers to follow a certain format or emails to come from specific domains.
Akismet: We utilize Akismet’s advanced analytics to understand typical user behavior and flag any activity that deviates from the norm. For example, if a user submits forms at an unusually fast rate, it could be a sign of spam.
Word Blacklist: We have proprietary code that identifies common “spam” words. If any form field contains one or more of these blacklisted words or phrases, the form submission is automatically flagged as potential spam.
Honeypot Fields: We employ honeypot fields, hidden form fields that trick bots into filling them out but remain unseen by human users. They serve as a trap for bots, helping to prevent automated spam.
Further Measures We Can Take
Implementing a Minimum Character Limit: By setting a minimum character limit for form submissions, we can help ensure that the content is genuine and meaningful, filtering out short and spammy entries.
Requiring Additional Specific Fields: We recommend requiring additional specific fields in your forms. This extra layer of validation helps to differentiate human submissions from automated spam.
Blocking Entries with Foreign IP Addresses: We can implement geo-fencing techniques that block form submissions from foreign IP addresses, helping to prevent spam from outside your target region.
The Limitations of Anti-Spam Measures
Despite our best efforts, there are some limitations to what we can control. For instance:
Blocking Humans with US IP Addresses: While it would be ideal to block all spammers, we cannot block human users with US IP addresses as this would also prevent legitimate visitors from accessing your website.
Extremely Advanced Bots: Advanced bots can mimic human behavior very closely, making them difficult to detect and block without potentially impacting the experience of legitimate users.
Understanding the Nature of Contact Form Spam
In an ideal digital world, there would be no such thing as contact form spam. However, the reality is that a certain amount of contact form spam is a normal part of operating a website. As we’ve explained, bots can mimic human behavior very closely and use a variety of tactics to pass themselves off as genuine users, such as using IP addresses that appear legitimate.
Given the sophisticated and ever-evolving nature of these spamming techniques, it’s crucial to have a degree of patience when working with us to manage contact form spam. We’re always diligent and proactive in our approach, but our capacity to block every single spam message can be limited, especially when the data we’re reading points towards the possibility of a human user, not a bot.
What do I do if I am receiving spam?
Please submit a ticket to email@example.com if you notice you are being bombarded with spam and we will investigate our options. At this point, we will review all recent form submissions.
As your digital marketing partner, our primary goal is to balance security with accessibility. Blocking too many submissions could prevent legitimate customers from contacting you, so we strive to strike the right balance. It’s a challenging task, but with your understanding and cooperation, we can work together to make your website as secure and user-friendly as possible. Remember, managing contact form spam isn’t a one-and-done task but a continuous process of monitoring, adapting, and improving.
In conclusion, while spam can be a significant issue, through a combination of measures and with your active collaboration, we can keep it to a minimum. Although no measure is 100% foolproof, we continually adapt our strategies to counter new spam techniques and ensure your website remains a safe, user-friendly space.