The Internet has been around for more that 30 years, and spam has been a part for almost as long. Email spam became the most common form, reaching 80% to 85% of all emails in 2007. Then came blog spam, where spammers repeatedly filled a guestbook – a logging system that allows visitors of a website to leave a public comment – with links to their own site and with no relevant comment, to increase search engine rankings. If an actual comment is given it is often just “cool page”, “nice website”, or keywords of the spammed link. So what can you do to protect your blog or website from unwanted spam?
Google reCAPTCHA, defined as “Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart”, is a free service from Google that helps protect websites from spam and abuse. It works by testing the user or website visitor is an actual human or a “bot”. A bot is a software application that runs automated tasks over the Internet. This service uses an advanced risk analysis engine and adaptive challenges to keep automated software from engaging in abusive activities on your site. It does this while letting your valid users pass through with ease. In other words, Google reCAPTCHA is a tool that helps to distinguish a human user from a computer user online.
Google reCAPTCHA has several versions depending on what kind of spam protection you want for your website. Version 1 has been discontinued so I won’t discuss that here. Google reCAPTCHA v2 has two types, Checkbox and Invisible. Checkbox is mostly user friendly in that it normally only has the user click a checkbox with a label that says “I’m not a robot”. If reCAPTCHA detects unwanted behavior, it will display an image with “squares” over it and a question asking the user to identify specific objects. Invisible is my personal favorite type. The invisible reCAPTCHA badge does not require the user to click on a checkbox, instead it uses an advanced risk analysis engine and adaptive challenges to keep malicious software from engaging in abusive activities on your website. Meanwhile, legitimate users will be able to login, make purchases, view pages, or create accounts and fake users will be blocked. If you use Gravity Forms on your WordPress website, implementation is simple. From your WordPress admin area select Forms -> Settings and scroll to the bottom. To obtain your Site Key and Secret Key you can create a free account for your site at https://www.google.com/recaptcha/about/ and select “Admin Console” from the menu. If you do not have Gravity Forms or want to learn about other ways to implement Google reCAPTCHA, you can read the documentation at https://developers.google.com/recaptcha/intro.
reCAPTCHA is a security service that protects your websites from fraud and abuse.