Blocking Online Form Spam

Reading Time: 3 minutes

When GOOGLE’S Captcha Code isn’t enough!

As the Spammers get more savvy, we’ve noticed that the little Google CAPTCHA test that appears at the end of most online forms isn’t a cure-all for spam.  

In fact, it has become more of a hindrance to prospective customers as opposed to an effective Anti-Spam measure.

“What is CAPTCHA?

CAPTCHA (Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart) is a type of security measure known as challenge-response authentication. CAPTCHA helps protect you from spam and password decryption by asking you to complete a simple test that proves you are human and not a computer trying to break into a password-protected account.
A CAPTCHA test is made up of two simple parts: a randomly generated sequence of letters and/or numbers that appear as a distorted image, and a text box. To pass the test and prove your human identity, simply type the characters you see in the image into the text box.”

Source: Google

Spam Enquiries Slipping Through The Gaps

Over the past few years, we noticed that some of our clients kept getting Spam enquiries through their online forms, despite having the Google Captcha module activated. Google Captcha was once viewed as the solution to fixing this annoying online form issue. The problem is, Google’s Captcha is only designed to combat bot-generated spam. It’s not able to tell the difference between a genuine enquiry, filled in by a physical human vs another physical human just copying and pasting a dodgy enquiry about bitcoin, male enlargement pills or low-cost SEO. This is why more and more spam enquiries slip through the cracks and why your online form enquiries are landing in spam. This can even impact your genuine enquiries causing your email software to assume all of these are spam.

How We’re Blocking Online Form Spam 

For our WordPress website clients, we almost exclusively use Gravity Forms as our online form software and have found a way to block most, if not all online form spam.
We do it by stopping it from becoming spam in the first place, and the trick is to hide the Submit button.

By hiding the Submit button, we can program your online form to only show the Submit button if certain conditions are met. This is called Conditional Logic and when used in conjunction with certain patterns that we’ve observed over the years, we can eliminate most of the spam you’d rather not have clogging up your inbox.

Without giving too much away, here’s a few patterns we’ve noticed

  1. Repetitive Target | Once a Spammer finds an online form that’s easy to fill in, they often return to offend again. By using Conditional Logic to block the Submit button (for reasons unknown to them) your site will stop being a target. Limiting the character limit in the Enquiry section also cuts off their message.
  2. Block Certain Phrases | Mentions of Viagra and Crypto are a few popular phrases mentioned in a lot of spam. By leveraging Conditional Logic, we can hide the Submit button if any of these phrases appear in the Enquiry field of your form. We can also block other Adult phrases and swear words.
  3. Common Characters | Spam has evolved to include more than just naughty words. There are now certain character combinations like mentions of website addresses and overuse of certain symbols like question marks and exclamation marks. There has even been a resurgence of spam messages made up of Russian characters. Depending on your particular spam issue, we can block certain character combinations without accidentally blocking what your genuine prospects might be filling in.

It’s Time To Wrap Up Your Spam Issues

If you have a WordPress Website and want to eliminate your Online Form Spam, or are keen to get your website developed by those who go that extra mile, then let’s chat.

By using Gravity Forms and Custom Conditional Logic to hide the Submit button, we’ve been able to stop possibly 10,000, if not more, of spammy online form submissions for our customers. And we think that less spam would make the World a better place!

Get Started With A FREE 15 Minute Consultation