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 businesses time and money. To fight spam, many sites put captchas on their forms. These captchas can stop spambots from spamming. But they can also stop users from filling out your form. That’s the last thing you want when you’re running a business.
Captchas force users to type random words that don’t make sense. Not only that, but the letters are so warped and distorted they’re hard for anyone to read. Users often have to try captchas many times to get it right. That’s why most users avoid filling out the form when they see one. It’s good that captchas stop spam, but it shouldn’t come at the cost of losing users. The perfect captcha is one that not only stops spambots, but does it without hurting your form conversion rate.
- Example: Growmap Anti Spambot Plugin
Another captcha that’s less intrusive than traditional captchas are honeypots. They can stop some spambots, but not all. They may also create accessibility issues for some users.
Honeypot captchas work by hiding a text field from users through CSS. It’ll only accept entries that leave the field blank. Users can’t fill out this field because they can’t see it. But spambots will see and fill it in. The form will then reject the spambot’s entry. Some spambots have learned to avoid honeypot text fields if they’re labeled in a way that tells users to avoid it. This presents accessibility issues for screen reader users who have CSS disabled. If the label on the honeypot field doesn’t tell them not fill out the honeypot, they won’t know to avoid it.
You could give the honeypot field a common label, such as “name”, to trick the spambot into filling it in. But it would also trick screen reader users to fill it in too. Honeypot captchas are not 100% effective at stopping spambots, nor are they accessible to all users. But they are far better for your forms, than traditional captchas.
- Tutorial: Honeypot Recaptcha
Is there a captcha that’s effective at stopping spambots and easy for users to do? This is where the slider captcha separates itself from the rest. It stops 99% of spambots because most can’t interact with the slider. There are spambots advanced enough to crack this, but quite few. It’s also user-friendly because all users need to do is slide the knob across to verify they’re not a spambot. All mobile users need to do is swipe, which is an easy action they’re familiar with.
A simple click and drag or finger swipe is not as intrusive as a traditional captcha that users have to struggle to read and type. The slider captcha will stop more spambots than the checkbox and honeypot captcha. If you have a high-traffic site, this is the best captcha that’ll fight spam without frustrating users.
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 captchas versus spambots, the slider captcha wins. It’s not only easy for users to use, but it’s effective at fighting spam without hurting form conversion rates. For businesses where time and money matter, what more can you ask for?