Why Anti-spam Honeypot Works


Captchas can be very tricky for users as we know them – the numbers and letters in the images can be difficult to read and users will sometimes spend minutes trying to figure out what the letters and numbers could be. It can be very frustrating to be caught up in the endless loop of captchas as a user.

What’s more? Many users are left wondering why the captchas anyway. Simply put, not many understand what value it adds to their browsing experience. Hence many abandon browsing a website immediately after being presented with a captcha. Besides, users are left feeling that the site does not trust them. No matter what explanation you give to the user about captchas, many do not give them a chance at least going by research on website browsing abandonments.

Those are some of the reasons you may want to switch to anti spam honeypots. There are no texts to fill in for the user, and it saves their browsing time and bandwidth. You as the web owner do not grumble about website abandonment. Remember these abandonments can leave financial losses as the user does not get to complete purchases. If you include them in the comment section, they hamper the customer feedback mechanism. Yet most companies rely on this feedback mechanism to keep improving their product quality.

Stopping the Spambots

Spambots are codes written and deployed online to fill out web forms on other sites automatically for the benefit of the bot owner. They may post spam comments on many other websites, such that these comments contain website links. Posting these links to other websites is meant to help the bot owner in SEO website optimization.

Sometimes the bot owner is posting his website links. However, in most cases, the bot owner is in the business of posting website links for other people to be paid for it. The reason for using the bot is to automate the process and make it pretty fast. A bot will fill in forms automatically. Therefore it can post comments or fill thousands of websites with paid spam comments in a matter of minutes.

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The problem with the spambot is that it will damage your website’s SEO rankings once it leaves a spam comment. The search engine crawlers rate websites poorly if they find spam comments on them. This is different from genuine comment posting. This is why you may want to stop the spambot from leaving a comment on your website. One way of doing so has been captchas but we already discussed the problems of using that technique. Another way is to use the Akismet plugin, which now, unfortunately, costs money.

Spambots are very annoying as they keep posting comments over and over on old articles and blogs. They will keep submitting the same forms over and over. If allowed, they will fill in your storage space faster. Besides, it is very hard to stop them by blocking an IP or using other techniques.

How Anti Spam Honeypot Stops Website Spams

A honeypot is a field added to a website form. Coders use CSS or JavaScript to hide this field. Hence the entry field will not be visible to the ordinary human user. This means the honeypot cannot inconvenience the user as the latter does not need to fill in anything in them. Thus unlike the captcha users find nothing to complain about.

What happens when the bot crawls the website looking for opportunities to post spam comments and promote websites? It will discover the honeypot and post a comment. Well, most of the bots will not read CSS or JavaScript hiding the honeypot – although some modern ones can.

Nevertheless, using a different name of the field will make it harder for these bots to detect the hidden fields. If the bot does not discover that it is a trap, it will post the comment or fill the form anyway. And that’s how you get to know that it’s a spambot comment because human users do not get to see the filled field. These forms and comments automatically qualify for deletion.

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How About Bots That Detect Hidden Fields?

> You can make it harder for them too. Create a honeypot of a field that contains a label and icon. Let the honeypot appear as legit as possible by using these labels and icons so the bot does not get alerted. You can also name the honeypot as the default field.

> Place the honeypot randomly on the form and move it often between the valid fields. This prevents the bot coder from simply having a code that ignores the same field based on the index.

> After naming the honeypot with the same name as the default field, generate a random name for the default field. This default field is the one to appear as a honeypot to the spambot.

> Add expiration to the form to prevent retrials by the spambot.

> Finally, never forget to hide the honeypot from the valid user. You can use JavaScript or CSS. With the latter, use a class that has a random word. Do not use obvious class names like “hide” because it is then easy for the spambot to detect the honeypot.

Once all this is done, you can automate the rejection of the comment and submission forms. With a few rules set on your website plugin, it is easy to accomplish that. This is because you direct it to delete any filled comment and submitted form from the honeypot.

You can either code your website plugin to use these spambot stopping techniques or can look for a ready-to-use plugin in the marketplace. Once you find one, install it on your website to work for you.

In conclusion, the best way of stopping spam bots is using honeypots, which are hidden for the ordinary human user to see. Hence the user will have nothing to complain about like they do when you include captchas. Captchas are annoying and give a poor user experience.


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