Hate spam, but not so keen on reCAPTCHA either? Good news! The invisible captcha for WordPress anti spam is ready for you.
Since the dawn of the internet, the anti-spam battle has been raging. In recent years the tide turned, and the good guys started to win. But it was at the expense of user experience.
Invisible captchas changed all of that!
Now we finally have a spam-destroying weapon in our arsenal that is so clever, your real human users won't even notice it!
The history of captcha anti spam
Captcha was first used in 1997 at AltaVista. (Remember Altavista? Yeah, that made me feel old too! ?)
It prevented bots from adding URLs to their web search engine, and was used commercially by PayPal in 2001 as part of their anti-fraud efforts.
Later it became available to the general public and started appearing all over the internet. But it was received with the same enthusiasm as sour milk in your cereal. 🤢
Everyone knew that Captcha was essential, but no one liked it!
Over the years it has appeared in many different forms. The most universally hated seems to be the garbled, twisted, smudged words that had to be deciphered before you could proceed.
Is that an "i" or an "l"– a zero or the letter "O"? Maybe you see three letters where there should only be two. No matter how much you tilt your head, scoot your chair back, squint, and wonder if you need new glasses. 👀 It was never a pleasant user experience.
reCAPTCHA is the most famous version. Google bought it a few years back and now offers it for free. In its V1 form, users had to decipher two words for reCAPTCHA. One of them (usually the easier one) was lifted from an old book. An automated OCR program had failed to read it properly, so reCAPTCHA users were actually helping Google digitize books.
But it's not just good things that must come to an end.
In 2014, Google found that artificial intelligence 🧠 could crack even the most complex CAPTCHA images with 99.8% accuracy, beating human scores and signaling the beginning of the end for text-based reCAPTCHA.
What came next in captcha spam protection?
If you're already a Formidable user you may be familiar with the V2 checkbox reCAPTCHA that has been included in our forms for some time now. V2 was a HUGE improvement, tracking user behavior when checking the box to determine if you are human.
While a human moving the mouse cursor will always follow a slightly imperfect course, a spambot 🤖 may choose a perfectly straight line or mathematically calculated curve — something Google is good at spotting!
If Google wasn't so sure, it used an image-based challenge system with prompts like "click all the images that contain street signs". This approach is much harder for computers to crack, but easier and quicker for humans.
Studies showed that V2 had a much smaller impact on user experience and conversion rates. But it still had an impact. The internet demanded better!
The holy grail of reCAPTCHA spam protection
When Google announced that invisible reCAPTCHA was on its way, it caused a lot of excitement. Finally, there would be a form of CAPTCHA protection that had zero impact on user experience! 🎉
Now that it's finally here, we are impressed. Big time!
It works like a dream, and the vast majority of users will never even know it's there. Except for the rare occasion when your mouse movements are particularly robotic (before that first coffee kicks in ☕) and you see the image challenge.
Even better, switching your Formidable forms to use this new invisible protection is quick and simple.
How to switch your forms to an invisible captcha
Although Honeypot spam protection is included in every Formidable form, it won't stop all the spam. So the first question isn't "How", it's "When"... and the answer is NOW!
This is too good to delay, and it only takes two minutes (literally, I timed it!) ⏱️. So take a second right now to save yourself tons of time in the future.
👉 Read more: WordPress Spam Protection
Please note that only one type of reCAPTCHA (either Checkbox V2 or Invisible) can be used per site. You cannot use V2 on some forms and Invisible on others.
Step 1: Get new reCAPTCHA keys
Login to your Google reCAPTCHA account or create a new account if needed. Then follow the prompts to register a new site.
Be sure to choose Invisible as the reCAPTCHA type.
Step 2: Enter your new keys in Formidable Forms
Go to your site's Formidable → Global Settings. Insert your Site key and Secret key under the reCAPTCHA heading. Ensure you set the reCAPTCHA type to Invisible.
Step 3: Do a little dance
Yep, that's it! Two simple steps and all your reCAPTCHAs are now invisible! If you're dancing with joy, or dancing on the grave of illegible scrawls and impossible math challenges (we won't judge!) — it's definitely worth celebrating.
Please note: If you are using Invisible reCAPTCHA for WordPress, and Google flags you as suspicious (most likely from testing your form with multiple submits with the same email address or from the same IP address), it may display reCAPTCHA (V2) after the Submit button is clicked to further ensure you are a human, and not a robot. This is expected behavior for Invisible reCAPTCHA.
** Bonus Fact ** Did you know that CAPTCHA stands for "Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart"?