We’ve had alot of enquiries about the funny text in boxes we implement on the contact forms on many of our websites, so we’ve decided to provide an explanation on our own site.
CAPTCHA stands for Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and
In short, CAPTCHA is an effective way of stopping SPAM emails from being sent through web forms.
Spammers develop programs whose sole purpose is to fill website inboxes with unsolicited marketing emails. These programs, or “bots” often use contact forms on websites to do their work. It’s a simple matter for a bot to submit bogus details on a form thousands of times on an unprotected website.
Spam and website owners
Spam can be a real pest for website owners whose sites are targetted. Especially for a web-based business whose main income revolves around getting emails from customers, it’s a huge waste of time to have to sort through hundreds of fake emails to find the real customers, and sometimes it’s even impossible to tell the difference until you’ve tried using the contact details in the email.
Spam and website visitors
As a visitor to a website, you might ask, “How does the spam someone else gets affect me? Why should I have to decipher these annoying codes just to save someone else some effort?”
Well, if you want to make contact, whether it be to request information, sign up for something, or buy something, you want to hear back from the website operator as soon as possible. Having to sort through spam to find your email just draws out the process, so it’s in your best interest and the website owner’s that we implement CAPTCHA on their site.
How captcha works
The images you see at the bottom of our forms are text which has been distorted and placed on a patterned background, and covered with little curvy lines and squiggles. So how does it stop spam?
To a human, CAPTCHA codes are still pretty legible, despite the distortion and interference. To a computer however, these codes are nearly impossible to decipher. Compters have some level of character recognition – you might have seen or heard about software that allows you to scan documents and have them come up on the computer as editable text rather than images, or pads that allow you write by hand and have text appear on the screen. Both of these utilise character recognition, so it’s not impossible for a computer to decipher an undistorted captcha code. Once we throw in the patterned background, distort the characters a bit and throw in a few other random lines, however, the task becomes alot more difficult for modern software.
Obviously, if you don’t enter the correct code on the form, the email won’t send and you’ll be given a new code to decipher instead – and the same goes for bots. This means that our CAPTCHA images can stop most modern bots from submitting spam through a website form.
Character recognition is always improving, and there are other methods of getting past CAPTCHA – one of the simplest is having a real person decipher the code and send the spam emails. Because of these limitations in CAPTCHA, we at Jezweb are always looking for more effective alternatives.
The future of spam filtering on web forms
As the form technology has improved the options we have available for filtering web spam have become more subtle. We rarely use captcha forms because they are quite a distraction from people filling in forms and they are pretty terrible for anyone that has imperfect vision or is in a hurry. So, we use other spam filtering techniques which can differentiate between a human filling in the form and a computer program. Some junk will still get through but not enough to be a real bother and when you consider the benefit of making it much easier for people to contact you it’s worth a little inconvenience.
If you would like to know more about how we setup enquiry forms and what kind of forms we could build for your website please let us know.