Update: due to the number of fake signups reported in 2017 up until today, we now recommend Captcha for those who have fake signups issues.
We get a lot of people asking why we don’t offer CAPTCHA capabilities on our signup forms. The simple answer is that you don’t need one, and here’s why…
The Problem With CAPTCHA
CAPTCHA (an acronym for “Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart”) is used to help identify less-than-genuine accounts and registrations by automated programs, or “bots” as they’re known. Previously it required the person to enter a series of numbers/characters from an image (an often visually challenging one). It’s regarded as a bad method of trying to weed out fake submissions because it causes issues for those with visual impairments and learning difficulties.
The latest style of CAPTCHA (called noCAPTCHA) requires the user to click a checkbox and confirm they’re not a bot. It also looks at behaviour based on previous activity from your IP, among other things. If it doesn’t accurately predict you’re a genuine person, it will ask a secondary pattern matching question.
Despite its popularity, it still doesn’t stop the other type of spammers. The type who are real people, paid to fill in forms and enter CAPTCHAs. You can’t stop them without manual intervention, so putting a CAPTCHA on your email signup isn’t going to solve anything.
Two Step Confirmation
We always recommend that you have our Signup Confirmation feature enabled in MailPoet (80% of our users already do!). Among other reasons, this will help you be a better email sender by:
Ensuring higher deliverability rates since the subscriber can only confirm their email address once an initial email is delivered.
Forcing the subscriber to take this secondary step and reducing the amount of spammers likely to get onto your list. Why would a spammer want to get emails? What would they do once they’re on your list?
If you do have a lot of false signups, then you may see an increase in unconfirmed subscribers (if you have signup confirmation enabled). Don’t be alarmed, it’s normal to have up to 30% of subscribers unconfirmed. To manage them, simply go to your list, and click on the “Unconfirmed” label. We recommend deleting any unconfirmed subscribers older than a month.
Maybe it’s because in MailPoet you can see the unconfirmed subscribers that so many people ask for the ability to have CAPTCHA. In most other services, you can’t see them so you’ll never know how many unconfirmed email addresses you have on your list.
Who Uses CAPTCHA On Signups?
Answer: No-one. In my 8 years as an email marketer, I can hand-on-heart say that I have never ever seen anyone using CAPTCHA on an email signup form. I don’t think I even know of any email service providers that offer such a service, I’ve certainly never encountered one!
If no-one else is doing it, that says a lot. Especially since many of these other services have been around longer than us.
So please, no more requests for CAPTCHA functionality! Enable double opt-in and do a bit of list cleansing from time to time. It’s the easiest way for your subscribers.
Once you’ve deleted your unconfirmed, go further and delete your inactive subscribers.