Reducing Blog Spam – 3 Human-friendly Alternatives to the Dreaded Captcha

Don’t you hate it when you’re typing along, filling in an online form (which is often a joy in itself); you get to the bottom and see one of these things?

Recaptcha madness

It might as well be a roadblock.

If you’re like me, you have to refresh it several times before you get something that you can actually decipher. It’s a pain, and it could even be costing you customers.

Research shows that forcing users to prove they’re human with a captcha like this can reduce conversions (like form completions) by 3.2%. That’s bad – but there are other ways to manage spam than the ubiquitous captcha.

Here are three ways to do just that.

1. Akismet

Akismet is a spam-fighting plugin that it’s included in the default WordPress installation – it also works in Drupal and Joomla. It’s free to use for personal blogs, though you do have to register at wordpress.com. For business blogs it’s a very reasonable $5 per month.

Akismet is a great plugin. What it does is learn what you consider to be spam and it starts cleaning it up for you, automatically. That means no captcha, and over time less spam for you to deal with manually. It’s a no-brainer if you’re a regular blogger – if you’re not using it, go get it today. You’ll get a key that you need to enter in WordPress and you’re good to go, it starts learning with the next spam comment your blog gets.

2. Honeypots

A honeypot is a trap designed to catch spammers. The very popular commercial WordPress forms plugin Gravity Forms has a built-in honeypot – tick the checkbox in your form’s Settings and forget it, it works automatically with no further interaction from you.

Just-as-popular free plugin Contact Form 7 also has a honeypot available.

To learn more about honeypots and how they work, check out this Wikipedia article.

3.  WordPress Zero Spam

A new client pointed out this wonderful plugin to me a few weeks ago. I started using it on this site and on one new client’s site; she had no captcha and was having horrendous spam issues.

This plugin works entirely invisibly, no settings at all. I’ve had zero (that’s none!) spam comments on this site since installing Zero Spam and getting rid of my captchas, and my client that was not using any type of captcha at all reported her comment spam had gone from a hundred per day to no more than 1 or 2. That’s awesome.

There’s also a plugin for Gravity Forms that’s very similar, Gravity Forms Zero Spam, and is also working really well for me.

Zero Spam is based on the work of David Walsh.


There you have it – why not try one of these three methods and stop making your site visitors jump through so many hoops to get in touch with you by contact form?

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