By now it’s safe to assume none of us like spam. In any given day we have to process enough legitimate emails without spending time on the time-wasters – the random emails generated by bots, the Nigerian prince scam letters and wonder drugs at ridiculous prices.
The fact is spam is still making someone, somewhere enough money for them to keep doing it. Mostly this is because it’s essentially a numbers game – send enough spam and sooner or later you’ll hit your target – a desperate, naive and gullible individual who’ll respond and get drawn into whatever web of lies these bad eggs spin.
For the rest of us we just delete them – again and again and again. Fortunately, most modern email clients automatically file these emails directly into our spam folder (I would suggest reviewing your spam folder from time to time – they catch legitimate emails too!).
Ideally though, you want to stop getting these spam emails in the first place. This can be an issue for website owners who in most cases have an open contact form that spammers are drawn to, like bees to honey.
How can you make your website contact form a brick wall to spammers?
Blocking spam with No CAPTCHA reCAPTCHA
Over the years there have been several attempts at creating spam blockers. Unfortunately many of them have been pretty good at blocking real humans too, which isn’t great for business – imagine having someone working the phones who turned away actual customers because they assumed they weren’t legitimate!
Puzzles, quizzes, fuzzy images or audio clips you had to solve before proceeding with your enquiry has resulted in many frustrating experiences for us as customers but fortunately the smart people at Google have come up with a better way – No CAPTCHA reCAPTCHA.
You can see it in action on our Contact page – how much easier is that?? No difficult puzzles or indecipherable images – just an easy tick box and you’re done.
So if it’s so easy for us real humans (yay – finally!) how can it stop spammers?
How does No CAPTCHA reCAPTCHA work?
Spammers use bots – it’s the only way they could ever hope to be profitable. If they had to manually fill in every form they would give up – so they build what they call bots – programs that seek out and automatically complete web forms wherever they can be found.
The No CAPTCHA reCAPTCHA’s seeming simplicity lies in its focus on realistic human behaviour – the way most people browse a web page and move their cursor around. We read something here, we get distracted over there, we move the cursor to the corner to get it out of the way – all actions that a bot would actually have great difficultly replicating (if this humans vs. machines stuff interests you, check out The Imitation Game with Benedict Cumberbatch – it’s a look at the life of one of early AI pioneers, Alan Turing).
In situations where it’s difficult to determine the humanness of the visitor filling in the form, the new spam blocker will present a simple image matching test. You can learn more about it in Google’s own explanation of the technology.
How do I add No CAPTCHA reCAPTCHA to my website?
You can sign up and get the code from Google directly. You simply register your site and in most cases (depending on the form you’re adding it to) integrate it directly.