One question I get asked a lot is what affiliates can do about spam. From spam comments on your website, to spam e-mails from any contact forms on your website, to spam signups on your forums.
The most important thing you can do:
Make it Your Problem.
People are always looking for ways to combat spam. Yet the majority of these methods used are methods that are used to inconvenience the users of your website.
Annoying Captchas. Trivia and Math questions. Flash applications requiring specific human interaction. Huge profiles that people need to fill in with required ‘out of the box” questions.
All things designed to annoy the user.
Why are you trying to chase the user away? Why are you trying to make it difficult for the user to do what they want to do?
It’s almost like you don’t appreciate how precious each and every user to your webpage is.
Here’s an example – on CasinoAnswers.com, we have a form on almost every webpage that encourages users to e-mail us. Here’s the form:
See that? No spam prevention tools there. It results in us receiving hundreds of spam e-mails per day. Here’s a screenshot showing just SOME of January 16ths e-mails:
Is this a hassle? Of course it is. However if I had various spam prevention tools in that form, making my visitors jump through hoops just to send me a simple question about casinos, then I might not get e-mails from visitors like this one:
That visitor was actually 71 years old. Do you really think he is going to jump through captchas and flash apps just to ask me a simple question? I’d say it is doubtful.
I replied to that visitor with a link to a casino a few weeks ago. The results so far?
And I have many more examples like that.
Recently, an affiliate asked me to look at their forum, and see if I could figure out why no-one was signing up. I found that I couldn’t even look at the forum unless I had to register.
When I went to register, it was a hassle. I had to agree to the generic forum rules. I had to put in my e-mail address twice. I had to put in my password twice. I had to choose a timezone. I had to answer 3 math questions. I had to do a completely unreadable captcha.
Want to know how you register on forums I run?
That’s it. A simple message and form like that which appears on every page as they browse the site. It takes literally 5 seconds to register and become a member of any forums I run.
Do I get spam on comments? Do I get spam on web forms? Do I get spam on forum registrations? Of course I do. However I deal with it. In some cases, like the Casino Answers e-mail, I just suck it up. When it comes to comments and forum registrations I have numerous things in place on the server side of things, to weed out all the spam. A lot of these are widely available plugins for your CMS or Forums.
Spam is annoying. Spam is frustrating. However spam is not a problem caused by your visitors.
So don’t take it out on them.