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Protecting your web forms from spam

Web forms can be used on websites in many different ways and can be a great tool for gathering data or allowing your customers to make contact with you.

However, including a web form on your site can open you up to receiving unwanted spam. Spam is often submitted by automated spam robots that search the internet looking for forms, and often once they find yours you will often get a large volume of spam in the first hit.

While we don’t want to deter your customers from sending you their information by making your form too difficult to submit, there are a few simple countermeasures that can be added to stop (or at least slow down) spammers.  Hopefully this article will help you decide which option will work best for you.

Hidden Fields

This option is invisible to customers but may not block some of the smarter spam robots out there. A field is added to your form that is visible to robots who read the code, but hidden from the customer using css or javascript. If a value is entered in this field, the form will not submit, thus stopping robots who cannot tell the difference.

Human-friendly Question

Another option is to add a basic text question that would be easy for a human to answer, but that a robot could not answer. This could be a simple maths problem, or something everyone would know e.g. The colour of the sky is? This is a fairly common method and should not annoy your users too much or prevent them from submitting the form.

CAPTCHA

This is probably the most secure option, however as you may have experienced, CAPTCHAs can be quite hard to read, and may annoy or deter users. We recommend only using this method for important forms, or if neither of the above methods are working and you are still receiving a large volume of spam.

There are other solutions available, so speak to us if you don’t think any of these will work for you. And just note that spammers are always finding new ways to get around your countermeasures, so any method implemented may not be a permanent fix.
 

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