Prevent Spam – Use a Contact Form on Websites

by | Website Functionality

prevent spam graphicThe world wide web has been around for general public use since sometime in the mid-nineties, yet so many website owners still don’t take steps to prevent spam.  Spam is generally caused by allowing spam-bots to read exposed email addresses on websites. Spam-bots are those nasty little programs that crawl around on the internet and harvest email addresses which are clearly visible (and machine readable) in HTML. Harvested emails are stored and then later bombarded with every possible phishing scheme, viagra offer and other annoying thing known to the human race. Additionally, the spammers will send emails using the harvested email addresses and pretend to be someone else — causing legitimate email addresses to be black listed.

How To Prevent Spam With An Already Exposed Email Address

  1. Remove the exposed email address from the website.
  2. Create a contact form prompting the user for information such as the sender’s email address, subject, phone number and body text of the correspondence.  For WordPress websites, one plugin that provides contact form functionality is Contact Form 7
  3. Replace the exposed email address with a link to a page containing the new contact form.
  4. Create a new email address to receive the emails from the contact form.
  5. If possible, delete the old exposed email address so spammers will receive bounce backs and hopefully stop spamming the address — it might even be possible to resurrect the old email address in the future, if it is not exposed further.
  6. If the old email address must be kept online, consider using it as an alias with a gmail account — gmail spam filters are excellent, but some spam will still get through.

Benefits of  Using a Contact Form

Additionally, contact forms are much better than “mailto:” links since the forms can be customized to prompt users for the exact information needed by the recipient.  For example, a caterer might prompt a user interested in having a party for such items as party type, number of guests, maximum budget per person, party date and venue.  Receiving specific information in a contact form email helps the website owner to respond to the customer in a professional manner right away.