Captcha stands for Completely Automated Public Turing Test To Tell Computers and Humans Apart. That’s annoyingly long to read, almost as annoying as some actual Captchas can be when trying to sign up to something or even just leave a comment.
What a Captcha does is serve as a tool to prevent spambots from littering your comments and sign-up forms. This tool gives you, as the end-user, a simple test you must pass in order to proceed. They’re (usually) very easy and take you just a few seconds to complete, however a computer program will not able to get past it, hence stopping any spambots from getting through.
These captchas might be effective, but they are also known to contribute to a decrease in comments and sign-up rates since they require the user to take an extra step before committing. Hence the need for a similar tool that stops spambots without interfering with the end-users’ experience.
One of the latest and most successful plugins to provide anti-spam protection without the need of captcha was dubbed by the folks at WPShout as “the Akismet of online forms“, and it’s been fittingly named Goodbye Captcha.
What does it offer?
We already know that Goodbye Captcha is an anti-spam and security plugin, so how does it work and what does it actually offer? Well, it’s based on algorithms that identify spam bots without the need for any annoying (and sometimes uselessly difficult) captcha images.
As for what it offers, it completely eliminates spam-bot signups, spam comments and even brute force attacks. All you have to do is install it on your WordPress site and it immediately goes to work. The best part of it is that it’s completely invisible to the end-user, so you have no worries of sign-up rates decreasing due to any aggravating or intrusive “human-detection” fields.
A definite plus for Goodbye Captcha is that it doesn’t detect spam comments and sign-ups after they happen and then moves them to a spam folder where you need to manually delete them. On the contrary, it prevents the bots from ever leaving spam in the first place, contributing to a spam free website that remains secure while requiring less manual maintenance.
It gives you the choice to eliminate spam-bots on comments, sign-up pages, as well as login and password reset pages, all with the click of a button, and also integrates perfectly with the standard WordPress login form, register form, comments form and “Forgot Password” form.
Among its other features (which you can see in more detail further down) are the ability to limit the number of allowed login attempts and the ability to automatically block IP addresses and whitelist the ones of your choice, while you’re also provided with a number of charts, reports and statistics to keep track of everything.
Goodbye Captcha is a self-contained WordPress plugin, meaning it doesn’t need to connect to any outside service. You can find a full list of all its featured in the WordPress plugin repository.
Goodbye Captcha is not only loved by its users but also by other plugin developers. For instance, MailChimp recommends it as an additional method of preventing spam sign-ups:
The Goodbye Captcha plugin uses a highly effective anti-spam technique which does not even require your visitors to fill an additional field. We’ve integrated this plugin with our so they work together seamlessly. If you’re having issues with spam sign-ups, this is a plugin we highly recommend!
Applying your Goodbye Captcha settings
Now that we’ve gone over the features offered by Goodbye Captcha, let’s see what the plugin looks like in action.
The installation process is just like any other WordPress plugin; just head over to Plugins, search for Goodbye Captcha, and install it. Upon activating the plugin you’ll see a new “Goodbye Captcha” option in your dashboard’s sidebar. Once you click on this you can start selecting the settings of your choice.
As you can see in the screenshot above you’re provided with a number of tabs, each one offering a different set of options, starting with Settings. This is where the meat of the plugin is found. Your first option is to add any trusted IP addresses. These IP addresses will have all their requests accepted without any issue.
Up next you can set a minimum form submission time in seconds after which it’s considered invalid and a maximum form submission time for the opposite. You’re also able to set the maximum number of allowed attempts per minute and whether you’d like to automatically block the IP address if this limit is exceeded.
Lastly you can choose the length of time to keep the logs before they’re automatically purged, and you can even switch to a Test Mode where you will receive email notifications on your own email address for each protected form; a good way of confirming that everything is working smoothly.
Moving on to the next few tabs, first up is WordPress. From here you’re given the option of enabling Goodbye Captcha on the forms I mentioned above. You’re also able to hide the comments website field as well as the comments form notes fields.
The next three tabs relate to the enabling of Goodbye Captcha for a number of popular form and subscription plugins. These include the Jetpack contact form, MailChimp and Ultimate Member.
Monitoring your stats
The final tab is titled Reports. This section could prove to be very useful in monitoring login attempts, comments and sign-ups on your site. You’re provided with four different sections. The top section is split into two tabs, the first showing you the stats for comments, logins, lost passwords and registrations; while the second shows you a graph displaying all the modules on your site.
Beneath this section you will find the Latest Attempts that provides details such as the time of attempt and the client IP, then at the bottom of the page you can find two interesting reports. The first is a map of the world depicting the locations with the most attempts, while the second is a chart showing the distribution per module for the same attempts.
Documentation & Support
The documentation for such a plugin doesn’t need to be extensive, and in fact it isn’t. You’re provided with some installation instructions and a few common FAQs, but that’s about it. If you do require any further help you can always refer to the support forum.
All the support questions in the WordPress plugin repository are replied to in a very short time period; an especially impressive feat considering this is a free plugin. The developer even goes out of his way to help each user individually, providing tailor made solutions in certain situations.
One thing clearly evident throughout the reviews for Goodbye Captcha on WordPress.org is the massive praise for the developer, Mihai. With 55 out of 57 reviews (at the time of writing) being 5 stars, it’s easy to realise how committed the developer is to this plugin, and how effective it can really be.
Conclusions & Recommendations
The reviews alone should be enough to make you want to try out Goodbye Captcha for yourself, and the fact that it’s a freely downloadable plugin with a dedicated developer behind it makes it even more appealing. The effect that such a plugin can have on your site is only recognised once it’s been implemented, but after that you won’t regret introducing it.
If I had to nitpick on something that bothers me with the plugin’s settings, it would be the fact that the WordPress tab’s title is written with a lowercase ‘p’; something that bothers me. Other than that, everything is kept simple enough for any user to be able to set up, and if you do run into problems the support will get you through them.
So if you’re looking for an anti-spam solution for a WordPress site without the need to pester your end-users, give Goodbye Captcha a try for free and you won’t be disappointed.