I am getting loads of spam through my contact form. Any ideas how to stop them and not exclude any real inquiries?
–Frustrated in Falmouth
Sigh, the curse of the spambots. Welcome to the battlefield.
Unfortunately, as forms “age”, they tend to be more susceptible to bots–little pieces of script–that in this case are used by spammers to fill up your inbox. Therefore, the best thing you can do to limit the amount of spam coming in to your contact form or job application form is to make sure that they are kept up-to-date. Using a 3rd party tool with support is a good method of staying on top of that.
At flyte, we use Gravity Forms for our website and for our clients who use WordPress. (Which is basically all of our clients.) Besides being easy to use, I've found that the forms we create through Gravity Forms tend to limit the amount of spam coming through.
Now, no system is perfect, so you can also choose to include some type of captcha. These days, popular captchas require people to click on all the pictures of traffic lights or crosswalks to submit a form. While this does cut down on the amount of spam, it can be frustrating to people who just want to contact you and give you their money.
None of this will protect you from people who just copy and paste spammy notes into your inbox, but there's really no phone system that keeps annoying and irrelevant cold calls from reaching you, either. These tactics are more about managing the amount of spam coming in so you can still get quality leads while not drowning in spammy come-ons.
You can also set up filters in your email program that might move some of the more egregious form completions directly to your trash without hitting your inbox first, but I'm always concerned I'll lose an important lead that way.
Ultimately, it's about finding the balance. You're never going to get to a place where you never see spam, but by using a tool like Gravity Forms, adding a captcha, and setting up some email filters, you can get to a place where spam isn't preventing you from running your business.