No not the Monty Python sketch, email spam coming from your website’s Contact Form direct to your email client’s Inbox. We’ve all had them, offering you the ‘Best Deals’ on a certain well known brand of sunglasses, or medication to ‘enhance your performance’, and they’re really annoying!
So, how can they be stopped? You can always add ReCaptcha to your Contact Form, however the spammers seem to be getting round this more frequently recently, and it can prove annoying to someone that genuinely want’s to use your Contact Form. “Is it a bird? Is it a train? Is it a car? Oh I give up!”
Some people swear by ReCaptcha, however I prefer to use a plugin as they always seem to do a much better job and are nowhere near as annoying because they work in the background with no ‘user input’ required. There are many plugins that claim to do a good job of stopping Spam but I’m only looking at three of them in this post, one I’ve used before, one I currently use and one which is getting very good reviews.
- Askimet (free and paid versions)
- CleanTalk (14 day trial then subscription required)
- Antispam Bee (Free)
Akismet anti-spam plugin comes pre-installed on every WordPress site that you create. All you have to do is sign up for a free account then activate the plugin and connect it to your Akismet account via an API key, it’s as easy as that and your Contact Form and any Post Comments (if you allow them) are checked using complex algorithms on the Askimet server before they’re allowed or marked as Spam.
The Askimet plugin is free for personal websites and nonprofits ONLY, it’ll cost you at least $5 per month to use on a Commercial website. I did use the free version for a while but moved on to another plugin as too much Contact Form spam was still coming through.
Cleantalk Spam Protection is a simple yet powerful cloud-based WordPress anti-spam plugin and suitable for beginners as well as experienced users. It steers clear of feature bloat, offering you just what you need to stop spammers without bogging down your website. You sign up for a 14 day free trial, then once it expires you will need to purchase the Cleantalk service for a very modest $8 per year, and in my opinion it’s money well spent!
It works in a similar way to Askimet in that everything (Contact Form submissions, Post comments, Reviews comments, Newsletter sign ups and so much more) is first uploaded to CleanTalk’s cloud servers and undergoes multiple validation checks. You also get a Stats Widget in your website’s Dashboard. I now use CleanTalk on every website I build and on my own because it just works as expected. I’ve seen a 99% drop in Spam submissions over the last year of use.
Antispam Bee is a free plugin and is full of great features, and it doesn’t require registration or an API key like Akismet does. Anti-Spam Bee is free for both personal and commercial use, and is straightforward to use.
You can stop spammers quickly without requiring CAPTCHAS and without sending personal data to third-party services. The plugin is also GDPR compliant and ships with a ton of excellent features, and is currently getting very good reviews. I haven’t used Antispam Bee yet but may well test it out to see if it does live up to the reviews it’s getting.
Spam Spam Spam Spam, Spam Spam Spam Spam, damn that tune will be stuck in my head all day now!