Form spam, comment spam, email spam: it’s the unholy trifecta of processed junk you don’t want to read or deal with. We’ve looked at some awesome plugins to stop comment spam (and other general spam) dead in its tracks, and we’ve talked about how you can avoid having your emails flagged as spam too. Today we’ll tackle form spam, both what Ninja Forms is doing for you already and additional steps you can take if some form spam is still getting through. Let’s have a look!
Form Spam Antispam!
Native Ninja Forms Protection
Without you having to do a thing, Ninja Forms is already protecting you from form spam submissions. Since version 2.9.23 a honeypot field is added to each form by default.
If you’re not familiar with the term, a honeypot (sadly) has nothing to do with small bears that have a rumbly in their tumbly. Rather, it catches automated spam bots in much the same way that an actual honeypot would catch flies. It’s a hidden field on the form that is programmed to make form submission fail if anything is entered into it. Since spam bots fill out every field of a form (they can’t tell what’s required and what’s not) and they can’t tell a honeypot from a normal field, the honeypot gets filled in and the form submission fails.
This alone should be enough to filter out most spam bot garbage! However, if you are still having issues then you do have more options. Read on!
The Anti-Spam Field
In both Ninja Forms 2.9.x and 3.0, you’ll find a field called Anti-spam. It’s located under Template Fields in 2.9.x and Miscellaneous Fields in 3.0.
In either version, the Anti-spam field functions similarly. You get to enter both a question and a corresponding answer. The person (or spam bot) must match exactly the answer you entered in order for the form to be able to submit.
It’s recommended that you use basic math problems for these, as answers are case sensitive. As an example, were you to ask “What is the capital of France?” and set the answer as “Paris”, a user that answered “paris” in lowercase would be given an error.
Recaptcha is, at times, a necessary evil. While it is very effective at stopping spam bots, it is also a considerable barrier between you and the people you want/need to connect with. That barrier is annoying enough as it is, and even greater for folks with disabilities and/or anyone using accessibility tools to access your site. For many it can be an insurmountable one, meaning a recaptcha on your form completely segregates out a portion of your target audience that will never be able to connect with you via that form.
That said, in certain cases it is a necessary evil, and it is a tool available to you if you need it. Ninja Forms integrates with Google reCAPTCHA, and you’ll need a Google account to set it up. Just head over to the Google reCAPTCHA page and register your website, grab the Site Key and the Secret Key they give you there, and enter those keys into Ninja Forms via the WordPress dashboard in Forms>Settings>recaptcha settings. There is full reCAPTCHA documentation if you’d like a full walkthrough of the process. Use your power wisely 🙂
Note that in Ninja Forms 2.9.x, the reCAPTCHA field will appear after those steps are completed. In 3.0 the field is filed under Miscellaneous Fields but won’t work until the steps are completed.
This isn’t solely an anti-spam feature of Ninja Forms, but for any signup form on your site it is certainly an added line of defense. For a signup form to convert well, simplicity is incredibly important.
While the quick “what is one plus one” style anti-spam field might not slow users down too much, a captcha field most definitely will. Either will impact form conversion to a degree simply because you’re adding another step to the process! Fortunately, implementing a double opt-in for your signup forms as an alternative measure is easy! A double opt-in will completely shut out automated spam bots while boosting the quality of your mailing lists at the same time!
We wish you well in the battle against spam, and hopefully you’ve got a better understanding of the tools at your disposal now. Be on the lookout in the future for Ninja Forms integration with Akismet for added spam spanking power! Until then, if you have any questions about spam or the above tools, feel free to ping me in the comments below!