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Preventing Manual Form Spam Submissions

How to Slow Down and Prevent Manual Form Spam

Manual form spam is different than automated form spam.

Automated form spam happens when spambots fill in forms and submit them — not visually, like a human would, but by automatically inserting values into the field names.

Spam-free Form prevents automated form spam.

Spambots also rove the internet looking for forms. In fact, there are services that provide listings of web pages containing the HTML form tag. The listings can often be narrowed down to the type of software the form uses for spammers who target particular software.

Spam-free Form also provides protection from getting on those lists because spambots don't recognize the spam-free forms for what they are.

Manual form spam is different.

It's a human filling in the form and submitting it. There is likely to be some automation, like copy and paste of pre-written text. But it appears to be and actually is a human filling out your form and submitting it.

If your site visitors can use the form, then manually submitting spammers can, too.

Spambots can provide the URLs of web pages with forms for manual spammers to use.

Or, Google can provide the URLs.

As an illustration, do a search for "contact" at Google and you'll get lots and lots of hits. Scroll down past the listings that sell products (forms, services, contact lenses, …). Very soon, you'll come across links to lots of contact pages. See how easy it is for manual form spammers to find web pages with forms?

Narrow your search to "contact bicycle" (or whatever criteria might meet the spammer's intent) and you'll get contact pages for websites related to bicycles.

In addition to a contact form, you may have other forms that are being attacked by manual spammers.

There is a way to get form pages out of Google and other reputable search engines.

Don't block robots and spiders from form pages through your robots.txt file. That is an invitation to rogue bots to see what it is you're hiding.

Instead, put this meta tag into the source code of form pages, in the head area:

<meta name="robots" content="noindex">

It won't be instant. But eventually the form pages will be removed from reputable search engine indexes.

Another thing you may decide to do, after the meta tag implentation, is to change the file names of form web pages to something that does not contain the word "contact", "message", or other words that indicate the page contains a form.

That will be instant.

Your new form page is not in the search engine indexes at all (unless you use a file name that was previously indexed). Add the meta tag at the same time and the page will stay out of reputable indexes.

If you also use Spam-free Form, spambots won't be able to find your forms by searching for HTML form tags — because spam-free forms have no form tags.

However, there are still manual finds and spambots following links and reading the content of pages looking for form tags.

These are actions you can take to protect your forms:

  1. Put the suggested meta tag into the source code of web pages with forms. This will tell legitimate search engine spiders and indexes that you don't want the page indexed.
  2. Give the pages with forms a new file name. A never-before-used file name for a web page means it is not in search engine indexes at all.
  3. Use Spam-free Form. Because the forms have no HTML form tags, spambots can't find them. Further, there are no HTML form input tags for spambots to insert values into. (Spambots can't see with eyes like humans do; they only see the web page source code.)

Steps 1 and 2, together, are likely to reduce the amount of manual form spam to near or complete non-existence.

Step 3 is the way to get rid of all automated form spam.

Sign up to use Spam-free Form now. People who have are glad they went ahead and did it.

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