Google Forms spam can be more than just an annoyance. It can disrupt data integrity, skew survey results, compromise user experience, and waste valuable time for both form creators and respondents. That’s why you need to take proactive measures to protect your forms against spam.
In this blog post, we’ll explore practical strategies and techniques to prevent Google Forms spam and ensure the authenticity and reliability of your data. We’ll provide useful tips and best practices to help arm you against form spam.
What you need to know about Google Forms spam
Before diving into effective prevention strategies, you’ll need to understand some basics about Google Forms spam.
What is Google Forms spam?
Google Forms spam refers to any unwanted and/or fake submissions received through Google Forms. Essentially, it involves individuals or automated bots submitting irrelevant, misleading, or malicious information through online forms.
Spammers often target Google Forms to disrupt data collection, manipulate survey results, or spread links to harmful websites and ads.
These spam submissions can clutter your form results, making it hard to analyze genuine responses and undermining the purpose of data collection. Google Form spam wastes time and effort by forcing you to sift through irrelevant or fake submissions.
Why do spammers fill out forms?
Spammers exploit Google Forms as a convenient platform for their activities. Here are some of the key reasons:
- Advertising and promotion: Spammers view Google Forms as an opportunity to spread their advertisements, products, or services to a broader audience without directly investing in marketing campaigns. By submitting spam messages or links within a form, they’re attempting to attract potential customers.
- Data harvesting: Google Forms allow for data collection, and spammers take advantage of this feature. They fill out forms to gather personal information, such as email addresses, phone numbers, or names. They then use this harvested data for subsequent spamming activities, phishing attempts, or even selling to other spammers for financial gain.
- Disruption and nuisance: Some spammers fill out Google Forms solely to disrupt the form owner's operations. They flood the forms with irrelevant or misleading submissions, creating confusion, wasting time, and compromising the reliability of the data collected.
What kinds of Google Forms are vulnerable to spam?
It's important to be aware of vulnerabilities in Google Forms to implement appropriate measures to protect your Google Forms from spam attacks.
While public Google Forms on social media or embedded in websites have clear benefits, they’re susceptible to fake responses. Spammers often target forms with minimal or no security measures in place. Forms that don’t utilize features like CAPTCHA, form validation, or response moderation are more likely to be compromised.
Therefore, implementing robust security measures, especially with public forms, is always a good idea. Additionally, forms that collect sensitive information like phone numbers or emails may attract spammers. Luckily, there are active steps that you can take to prevent Google Form spam.
How to prevent Google Forms spam responses
Here are some proactive measures you can take to combat spam and safeguard your Google Forms and surveys:
Simulate CAPTCHA with response validation
One effective approach to prevent Google Forms spam is by simulating CAPTCHA with response validation. CAPTCHA stands for "Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart." It’s a security measure designed to differentiate between human users and automated bots.
Response validation, on the other hand, involves setting specific criteria for form responses. It allows you to define required fields, specify the format of a particular answer, or even set limitations on numerical values. Setting up response validation in Google Forms is also easily done in seconds.
While there’s no inbuilt feature for setting up CAPTCHA in Google Forms, you can easily simulate it by asking a simple question that requires a very specific answer. Using response validation, only the correct answer will allow the form to be submitted. Humans will easily be able to submit, but spambots will have a hard time.
Limit to one response per individual
Limiting one response per individual is a super easy and effective method of preventing a spammer from flooding your form with responses. While this method won’t entirely stop spam, it can significantly reduce it.
To set up only allowing one response per individual, toggle to the “Settings” tab. Then, under the Responses section, ensure that “Limit to 1 response” is turned on.
Make Google sign-in required
One of the biggest benefits of Google Forms is the security Google affords naturally.
Requiring users to sign in with their Google accounts before submitting the form adds an extra layer of authentication and accountability. While it can’t ensure genuine responses, it can certainly reduce the likelihood of anonymous or fake submissions.
Requiring a Google sign-in has two benefits. Firstly, you have a record of the user's account details for each form submission that you can use if necessary. Secondly, as spammers often prefer to remain anonymous, a required sign-in is a deterrent.
This setting is also easily turned on under the Responses section in Settings.
Make sure your forms are secure from spammers ASAP
So, there you have it! Now you know what Google Form spams are and why particular types of forms are more susceptible to them.
By implementing the strategies and techniques discussed in this blog post, you can fortify your forms, protect your data, and enhance the user experience for your respondents.
Never fear spammers, and let your forms do what you designed them to do! To learn more about how to get the best out of your Google Forms, check out the Form Publisher blog!