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The Once & Future Problem with Spam Contact Forms

We’re left to realize that some things never change.  

Once upon a time, sales seemed simple. You called, visited or mailed your prospects and clients directly. As technology progressed, you might have faxed them. If someone wanted to find you, they could visit your booth at a trade show or look up your phone number and address in a physical directory.

Then the Internet came along, and things got interesting. Now a lot more people could find you much more easily – and you could collect leads more easily, too, because your website had a nifty neato contact form for site visitors to submit.

Then hackers ruined everything by finding ways to automatically fill in and submit the contact forms on websites. Some of these submissions were cold calls, some were mere nuisances and some were actual hazards containing malicious code.

The Magical Captcha

In response, web developers got creative and found ways to try to thwart spam form submissions.

They designed captcha codes that required site visitors to read and type in certain characters to prove they were real people before they could submit a form. At the time, the programs created by hackers to automatically submit forms couldn’t read or type in the characters, so this was a good way to block them from submitting spammy contact forms.

Not So Magic Anymore

But then the hackers got more creative and figured out how to code programs to solve the captchas.

And so it went. Web developers have designed increasingly sophisticated methods of stopping spam form submissions, and hackers have designed increasingly sophisticated methods of circumventing those defenses.

We’re now in a NO CAPTCHA world, where the programming is sophisticated enough to only trigger a captcha code if on-page behavior seems suspicious, and the website owner has a certain level of control over the definition of suspicious behavior.

But, still, a few spam contact forms get through, and we’re left to realize that some things never change, because this behavior really isn’t new.

New Technology, Same Old Problem

Even in the pre-Internet days, we still received cold calls for goods and services we never wanted, and the junk mail pile on your desk was probably taller than the real mail pile most days. And don’t forget the vaguely enticing faxes offering one type or another of get-rich-quick scheme. The more you advertised your business, the more likely you were to be targeted by nuisance phone calls and junk mail.

And the same is true with websites – the more easily found your website is on the Internet, the more likely your contact form will be a target for spam. But you want your website to be found easily online, just as you want your company to be profitable, even though higher profits mean you’ll pay more in taxes.

Higher visibility means more spam forms, just as higher profits mean more taxes. It’s the cost of doing business. In either case, you do your best to minimize the headache. But you know you’re still going to have to pay some taxes. And you’re still going to receive some spam contact forms.

Pilot Fish has nearly 25 years of experience dealing with the real-world implications, hazards and benefits of online marketing. Contact us today to take advantage of our expertise.

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