What is form spam and why you should be wary of it
Form spam is spam that arrives via your website forms. It can be annoying, a waste of time and sometimes even dangerous. Most of the time, form spam is sent through a contact form’s name and email fields, but spammers can also use your website’s forms to send spam through other fields as well.
Form spam can be frustrating, because it wastes your time by forcing you to sift through nonsensical messages in order to find legitimate inquiries. These messages can make it difficult to keep track of important leads.
Who’s responsible for all the spam? Types of form spammers
Most of us have likely encountered form spambots, those annoying little pests that submit fake data to your web forms. Form spam bots generally fall into one of three categories:
These are the most common and most irritating type of form spambots. They’re usually preprogrammed with a list of keywords and forum URLs that they’ll automatically detect and then submit their spam message to.
Spammer-bots are the most difficult to stop, mainly because they’re constantly evolving their methodologies and often have thousands of variations. This means that any static filtering mechanism is just not going to cut it.
Generic spammer-bots and URL harvesters
Although less common than spammer-bots, these are easier to stop as they don’t use sophisticated botnet technology. These bots will simply crawl your site looking for forms or links, then harvest the URL of the site for later use. They tend to be used in two ways: either directly by spammers posting messages on forums or blogs (forum spam) or by other bots that are part of a larger botnet.
There’s also no shortage of human spammers who will manually fill out your forms for financial gain.
- Comment spammers: These are the ones you’ve probably heard of, who try to post links to their websites on your WordPress forms with the intention of gaining traffic and boosting their Google rankings.
- Harassers: This type of spammer is usually motivated by anger over something you’ve written in a blog post, or even something you have posted on social media. They may use your contact form to send harassing messages, or even threats.
- Scammers: This type of spammer tries to trick people into handing over personal information or money by posting links to fake websites or trying to feed them malware.
Five ways to beat form spam
Unfortunately, it is nearly impossible to stop spammers from trying to send their junk through your forms, but you can control how they fill out their forms. Here are five tips to keep your form spam free.
Use the Honeypot method
The Honeypot method is a system designed to prevent form spam. It uses an invisible form field to catch bots, while still allowing human visitors to submit the form as usual.
It’s a simple technique and it doesn’t require any additional coding or programming skills. This makes it simple for anyone to use and extremely effective for preventing form spam.
Click here to know about the honeypot method, why it’s one of the best ways to prevent anti-spam and how to implement it.
If you have a sign-up form on your website then, there are chances that it might get spammed by malicious bots. Recaptcha will prevent spamming of your signup form and help you filter out the real humans from the bots.
Validate all submitted data
Form validation is the process of ensuring that every single piece of data submitted into your form is legitimate. If not, you can then redirect them back to the form with an error message to submit the correct information.
There are a few things to consider here:
Does it slow down your form? Data validation adds an extra layer to your form and can make it take longer for users to complete. It’s not an issue for shorter forms but can get more complicated when you have more than 10 fields.
Interested to learn how you can build fast, painless forms that users love? Read here: https://formx.stream/blog/design-painless-forms/
Block suspicious users with a blacklist plugin
Blacklisting is the practice of marking an entity as unfavorable, disreputable, or untrustworthy. The entity might be an IP address, a username, an email address, a domain name, or even a keyword pattern.
Why would you blacklist/block an IP?
If you’re receiving a number of spam comments, one way to reduce them is to block the IPs that are submitting most of them. WordPress doesn’t have this feature built-in, so you can use plugins. For example, check out: Blackhole for Bad Bots.
First thing you need to do is install and activate the Blackhole for Bad Bots plugin. Upon activation, the plugin will create a new page at /blackhole/. This page is hidden from search engines and regular visitors. But bad bots will find this page and be redirected there whenever they try to access your site.
Install anti-spam plugins
Anti-spam plugins add an extra layer of protection to your WordPress forms by stopping spam submissions. These plugins protect your forms from spam before it even makes it to your inbox or spam folder.
Most of the time, spammers try to add irrelevant links in the comments or other parts of your site. This will not only annoy users but can also damage your site’s reputation.
These plugins protect your website against future attacks, are easy to install and set up.
Verify the email address
Email verification is the process of verifying the email address is valid and exists. This is a necessary step since the email address has become a standard for internet users to communicate with each other.
One of the best ways to improve form conversion rate is to verify the email address on your form. This one small step will drastically reduce the number of fake emails you receive from your forms.
The method to verify an email address is with a tool specifically designed for verifying email addresses — like Google’s Verify Email Addresses, which will tell you if the address you’re trying to send an email to actually exists..
Prevention of form spam is something website owners strive for. It makes a more comfortable place for their visitors to browse. Hopefully this article has provided some insights and tips into what you can do to prevent form spam on your website.