An unpleasant reality of life with the Internet is spam, and if you have a website that uses a contact form eventually you will be a target of spammers. One solution to fighting spam is to use a Captcha form along with the contact form. The problem with Captcha is that it can be discouraging to the real person who wants to use your contact form but they can’t read or figure out what they are supposed to type in the Captcha form – especially if the Captcha looks like one of these examples.
Mollom and Moovur – a better way
One solution I’ve started using for my websites is Mollom and Moovur. According to their website, “Mollom is a web service that helps you identify content quality and, more importantly, helps you stop spam on your blog, social network or community website.” How does it work? For the complete answer you should check out this page on their website, but basically everything that is submitted through your contact forms (and login forms) is run through Mollom to determine if the submission is by a real human or a spam bot. They are claiming an average efficiency of 99.74%, meaning 26 out of every 10,000 spam messages are making it through their system. Those are pretty good odds, in my opinion.
To use Mollom on a Joomla! site you’re going to need a free plugin called Moovur provided by Moovum. Moovur is what makes communication between Joomla! and Mollom possible, and it can be downloaded from this page on Moovum’s website.
Of course, Joomla! isn’t the only website platform that works with Mollom – plugins are available for Drupal, WordPress and others, and the list continues to grow. Check out the full list on this page on Mollom’s website.
Another caveat – if you’re using a third-party extension for your contact form instead of the form that comes with Joomla! you’re going to need to do some codework to make it work with Moovur. You can read more about that in this PDF from Moovum.
So does it work? Spam or ham?
The real question that needs to be answered is “Does it work?” In my experience, yes. At this point I can only recall one instance of a spam message that made it through Mollom’s defenses since I started using Mollom. And what didn’t make it through? See the screenshots below of Moovur’s dashboard from four different websites. In the graphs, orange denotes spam, and green denotes “ham” – the good stuff that Mollom allowed to get through.