It’s no secret that BuddyPress sites attract a serious amount of registration spam. Plugins such as BuddyPress reCAPTCHA, BuddyPress Security Check, SI CAPTCHA Anti-Spam, and BuddyPress Honeypot are either ineffective, inconvenient, or not well maintained. The often-recommended, though unfortunately named, WangGuard plugin is moderately successful at stopping BuddyPress spam, but is linked up to a commercial service.
When a new plugin comes along with support for combating BuddyPress spam, community managers take note. This week we’ve been following the Hashcash.io WordPress plugin, which utilizes a unique approach to eliminating spam on registration, login, and comment forms. Pavel Karoukin, the project’s creator, has a strategy to capitalizing on spammers by using the proof-of-work concept in combination with open technologies to generate Dogecoin profits for site admins.
In the latest 1.0.6 release of the Hashcash plugin, Karoukin added support for BuddyPress and sites that use Thesis themes. The update adds the Hashcash unlock switch to the BuddyPress signup form, which uses a different registration process than the regular WordPress form.
The Hashcash plugin enables BuddyPress site admins to protect their registration forms in addition to login and comment forms. Keys for Hashcash.io are automatically generated within the WordPress admin, making it quick and easy to set up.
Essentially, Hashcash.io stops spammers by forcing the user’s browser to do math. Hashcash plugin users have complained about the painfully slow mobile experience. Karoukin is currently working on an idea where calculations will be happening in the background, so that in most cases users will not be waiting on the browser. “Yesterday I brainstormed some ideas on how to make it even less painful for users (including mobile users.) The concept will stay the same, but UX will be different,” he said.
As far as BuddyPress spam-blocking plugins go, Hashcash is a fairly simple and relatively unobtrusive way to ensure that no bots register for your network. It also has excellent support for accessibility guidelines. The developer is very responsive to feedback and is continually evolving the plugin to become a truly painless solution on the human user end.
If the project succeeds at reaching the critical mass required to make it profitable for website owners, BuddyPress site admins will be in a good position to capitalize on the steady onslaught of registration spam. In the meantime, the Hashcash plugin provides a decent method of deterring spam, even without the cash feature.