by anthony on 04/21/11 at 5:07 am
Anyone who has a form on their website has seen their fair share of spam. Spam is a huge problem for site owners. It can cost your business time and money. To fight spam, many websites put captchas on their forms. These captchas stop spambots from spamming the site. However, these captchas can also stop users from filling out your form. That’s the last thing you want when you’re running a business.
Captchas display words that users can barely read. The words are often random so they don’t make sense. They’re also warped and distorted so that letters are hard to make out. Imagine how that affects dyslexic users, who already have trouble seeing words straight. Captchas make users think and work harder than they need. And they’re often hard to get right. It’s no wonder most users avoid forms with captchas on them.
It’s good that captchas stops spam, but it shouldn’t come at the cost of discouraging users from filling out your form. And clearly it does. The perfect catpcha is one that not only stops spambots, but does it without hurting your form conversion rate.
That’s why the checkbox catpcha is the perfect captcha. It stops spambots without discouraging users from filling out your form. No other captcha does this.
A checkbox captcha is smaller and less intrusive than traditional captchas. This makes it less intimidating for users when they see your form. Users don’t have to work hard to figure anything out. They don’t even have to type. All they have to do is simply check a checkbox to confirm they’re not a spambot. With a checkbox captcha, you’ll stop spam without stopping your users.
- Example: Growmap Anti Spambot Plugin
Another kind of captcha that is less intrusive than traditional captchas are honeypot captchas. They are second to checkbox captchas because advanced spambots can bypass them. They can also create accessibility issues for some users.
Honeypot catchas work by hiding a textfield from users through CSS. This textfield is left blank by users because they can’t see it. However, spambots will see it and fill it in. The form will reject the spambot’s entry, and will only accept entries that leave the textfield blank.
However, users that browse the web with CSS disabled (i.e. screen readers, text-only browsers, mobile devices) will see the blank textfield. This can confuse them and make them wonder what the textfield is for. It also goes against their habit and expectation of filling in textfields. If you label it properly, they probably won’t fill it in. But they probably won’t complete your form either due to the uncertainty it brings.
Honeypot catpchas also need careful and specific labeling. Certain spambots have learned to avoid honeypot textfields if they’re labeled in a way that tells users to avoid it. If you were to give the textfield a common label, such as “name”, it would trick the spambot into filling it in. However, it would also trick users who have CSS disabled into filling it in.
Honeypot captchas are difficult and complicated to get right. They’re certainly better than traditional captchas, but they aren’t perfect. They can stop some spambots, but not all. They can hurt your form conversion rate on users who browse your site with CSS disabled. If you can’t put a checkbox catpcha on your form, a honeypot catpcha is a good second option.
Traditional captchas are the worst. Stopping spam should not come at the cost of stopping users from filling out your form. In the battle of the captchas, the checkbox captcha comes out on top. It effectively fights spam without hurting your form conversion rate. It’s simple for users to understand and easy for developers to execute. For a captcha, what more can you ask for?