It can be super annoying when you get unsolicited emails, especially when they don’t make much sense, or worse, they contain inappropriate content.
We see it all the time and it’s pretty much been a problem since email existed. That’s why most, if not all email service nowadays have an automatic filtering system of some sort, that tries to direct these emails away from your email inbox, into a separate folder. This folder is typically called “Spam”, or in some cases “Junk” or “Promotions”.
There are several ways by which you can end up getting spam emails, but for our purposes, we will concentrate on spam coming from your website form.
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How Do You End Up With Spam
Most spam is being sent by bots on the internet. These are automated software programs that has been setup to send emails for various reasons. The motive may as an example be to market to you, or to request information for research.
However, like with most things that can serve a good purpose, they can also be used in a negative or harmful way.
A lot of bots have been programmed to crawl the internet and look for website forms to send emails to, in order to exploit your site by stealing data or to carry out scams.
How Can You Stop Spam
Although it may not be entirely possible to totally eliminate spam via your WordPress website, there are ways to significantly reduce it. Some form plugins come with some sort of built-in system or have the ability to ad third party spam protection services to help determine whether or not a bot is filling out your form. Here are some of the ways you can reduce or stop spam through your contact form.
- Use the built-in feature (if you have one) – the Divi form for example has a simple math problem to solve before you can send a form.
- Google reCaptcha – this is a free service by Google that allows you to register your site and add some code to your form (if supported) in order to stop bots.
- Install a spam protection plugin – there are a number of plugins available — free and paid — that work behind the scenes to help block website form spam. These may also require you to register an account and in order to get a special code (API key) to connect them to your site.
Effectiveness of Spam Protection
It is important to note that regardless of the method of spam protection you choose, the effectiveness will vary on a case-by-case basis. It is also possible to inadvertently block legitimate form submissions where your spam protection may be too aggressive on your website.
With spam bots getting more and more advance over time, there will always be a possibility that spam protection may be bypassed. Although spam can be annoying, it is probably better to ensure that real form submissions are getting through by not using overly aggressive or less user-friendly methods.
Aside from your contact form, also note that it is possible for bots to pick up your email address if you published it on your website or anywhere else online for that matter, and send you spam that way too. And, on top of that, real humans are sometimes used to physically fill out your contact form and send you spam.
The point is, we will probably have to live with some amount of spam online, but we have to strike a balance with how we remain accessible to our website users.