By far, one of the best decisions I made was to include an hCaptcha on my forms and to purchase the paid version of CleanTalk to end the automated form spam bots. It’s worked. On a daily basis, the plugin blocks over 20 to 30 form bot submissions.
But that doesn’t mean that all spam has been halted, though.
On a daily basis, I still get another 20+ submissions from spammers hoping to backlink or promote their services. Even with a warning on the form, they continue to submit anyways. Unlike form bots, these other spammers are human outreach services. There are similarities to these messages, though:
- They almost always come from a generic email address like gmail.
- They almost always make the same request, utilizing words like paid link, back link, backlink, guest post, paid post, cost, etc.
This provides the opportunity to build logic into the form to block these submissions.
I’ve shared our appreciation for Formidable Forms before, a fantastic form plugin for WordPress that is easy to use and has some advanced functionality to both keep your site fast and to develop complex, interactive forms that can even use calculations.
A key feature with regard to this is conditional logic. While conditional logic is often used to dynamically display or hide additional form elements, with Formidable Forms you can also use it to dynamically display or hide the submit button!
On your Settings menu, select Buttons on the left side, and enable Add conditional logic to submit button. You can then add a series of conditional logic rules to display the submit button. Be sure to require all rules are passed in order to display the submit button:
Of course, this could also really confuse users of the form, so you can also add a dynamic message to the form itself to warn users that the contents of their form are not acceptable and why. To do this, add an HTML area to your form and then use the rich text editor to add your message:
Write your message and repeat the conditional logic from your submit button display. In this case, though, you’ll want to show the field if any (not all) of the conditions are met. This way it displays as users are writing their request.
Human spammers are quite ingenious, so I have no doubt I’ll need to add many more rules to my conditional logic. However, every little bit counts!
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