Because WordPress is so popular, it’s a juicy target for spammers. Once you make your site public, people will be looking to spam your forms, comments, registrations, and so on.
One way to stop spam in its tracks is to use a CAPTCHA. However, while this will certainly stop most spam, it also runs the risk of annoying your human visitors who now need to jump through extra hoops to submit a form or leave a comment.
Human Presence is a WordPress anti-spam solution that stops spam while remaining invisible to your human users. In addition to working with WordPress comments and WooCommerce reviews, it integrates with most popular form plugins to offer behind-the-scenes spam prevention.
In our hands-on Human Presence review, we’ll take a look at this tool and show you how you can use it to protect your WordPress site from spam form submissions, comments, and user registrations.
Let’s dig in because the spammers certainly aren’t going to wait around.
Human Presence Review: A Look at the Features
At a high level, the main benefit of Human Presence is that it protects your website’s forms from spam.
The key detail is that it does this invisibly. That is, it doesn’t add any extra verifications for your human visitors to perform like a CAPTCHA field would.
In fact, your human visitors won’t notice a single detail that’s different about your forms. Instead, Human Presence does all of its work in the background.
How does Human Presence detect spam? Well, I’ll let them explain it:
Human Presence actively runs in the background of your website hidden from site visitors. This “ActiveForce” environment uses our proprietary behavior analysis to invisibly detect and record individual session behaviors. Our algorithm uses this information to construct smart profiles–a sort of digital fingerprint–to actively gauge future site interactions and protect against unwanted and/or harmful traffic
As far as I can tell, the unique thing about Human Presence is that it doesn’t just look for “bot markers” in malicious visits, but it also looks for “human markers” to make sure visits are legitimate.
If Human Presence’s algorithm detects spam based on the visitor’s profile, it will block the submission outright.
You also have the option to adjust Human Presence’s minimum confidence threshold to make it more aggressive or relaxed at blocking spam.
Human Presence offers built-in integrations for popular WordPress features and form plugins.
In terms of core WordPress features, it can protect your comments section and your registration page. If you’re using WooCommerce, it can also protect your WooCommerce reviews.
Then, it also integrates with the most popular WordPress form plugins including the following:
- Gravity Forms
- Elementor Form widget
- Contact Form 7
- Ninja Forms
- Formidable Forms
- WS Form
- Fluent Forms
Web Platform Integrations
While we’re focused on the Human Presence WordPress plugin in this review, Human Presence actually isn’t limited to just WordPress sites.
In addition to WordPress, it also offers dedicated integrations for the following:
Hands-On With the Human Presence WordPress Plugin
Human Presence is super simple to use, so there’s not much to show here. Nevertheless, let’s go through how it works.
To begin, you’ll install and activate the free Human Presence plugin from WordPress.org. Then, you can head to the new Human Presence tab in your WordPress dashboard.
Here, you’ll see a list of all the forms that Human Presence detects on your site. This includes both native WordPress forms (e.g. comments) and forms from any form plugins that you might be using.
You’ll also get a big non-dismissable nag to upgrade to the premium version. Not a huge deal, but it would be nice to make this a bit smaller as it takes up most of the page. Or, to keep it the same size but make it dismissible.
To turn on spam protection for a certain form, you just use the toggle button. You’ll also see a summary of the submissions for each form, including how many Human Presence deemed “Human” and how many it marked as “Suspicious”:
If you click the Settings button, you get two options.
First, you can enable automatic protection for all forms and comments with one click. This requires the premium version – more on pricing next.
Second, you can adjust the Minimal Confidence Threshold for what Human Presence considers to be spam. The range goes from zero to 100:
- If you put a lower number, Human Presence will be more strict (more likely to make submissions as spam). That is, if you set it very low, Human Presence will mark submissions as spam even if it’s not 100% certain that it’s spam.
- If you put a higher number, Human Presence will only mark something as spam if it’s absolutely sure that it’s spam, which makes it less likely to mark submissions as spam.
The default Minimal Confidence Threshold is 70. I’d recommend leaving it at that number to start and only adjusting it up or down if needed based on your site’s situation. E.g. if you’re still getting hit with spam, you might want to adjust it down to make Human Presence more likely to flag submissions as spam.
And that’s it for configuring Human Presence! I told you it was pretty simple.
In terms of frontend features, there’s nothing to configure because Human Presence is completely invisible on the front end.
How Does Human Presence Block Form Submissions?
If Human Presence detects a spam form submission, it seems to block it outright before the bot can even submit the form.
For example, here’s a pretty blatant spam form submission – you can see that Human Presence blocks the form submission and displays a message saying that “Sorry, we could not process your submission at this time. Please try again later.”
You’ll see the same message in WPForms (and I imagine other form plugins):
If you go to the Human Presence tab, you’ll also see that Human Presence marked the form submission as suspicious.
Here, you can see the results of my testing with a few different form plugins:
One thing to note is that, because Human Presence is just outright blocking the spam submissions, there’s no option to view the form submissions that have been blocked (for most form plugins, at least – I think WS Form does have a special integration to let you see that).
Does Human Presence Actually Stop Spam?
Usually, when I write reviews I test the plugin on my own sandbox site. However, I’m not sure how to test how effective a plugin is at preventing spam in a sandbox. Additionally, I live in Vietnam, so submitting forms myself isn’t a great test because I’m naturally suspicious simply because I have a Vietnamese IP address.
Don’t worry, though – “luckily” my portfolio site gets a steady stream of spam form submissions. Let’s just say that I’ve become very close with Eric Jones from Talk With Web Visitor 😉
My portfolio site uses WPForms and, while I’ve enabled WPForms’s built-in honeypot protection, a few spammers do seem to get through the cracks. Usually to the tune of about 5-10 spam submissions per day.
So – to test if Human Presence works in a real-world situation, I decided to set it up on my portfolio site and see what happened.
I let it run for two days to see what my inbox looked like. Usually, I’d expect to see anywhere from 10-20 spam submissions in this time, though there’s obviously a lot of variabilities.
During these two days, I experienced zero comment spam and Human Presence blocked ~20 form submissions, which seems about right based on the volume of spam that I was receiving (some of the suspicious submissions in the screenshot below were from my own testing, which is why the number is higher than 20):
I did receive some legitimate form submissions during this period, so I’m confident that Human Presence wasn’t outright blocking submissions.
Still, I’d love it if there were some way to audit the submissions that are getting blocked. This might just be a personal thing, but I’m always a bit paranoid about missing legitimate form submissions, so it’s nice to be able to check in from time to time.
One way to avoid this worry might be to just up Human Presence’s minimum confidence threshold so that it only blocks submissions if it’s 100% positive that the submission is spam. You might let a few spam submissions through the cracks this way, but you can be confident you’re not blocking any legitimate submissions.
Human Presence Pricing
Human Presence is free for limited usage and paid plans beyond that.
The free plugin lets you protect one form from spam per website. Honestly, that’s all most sites will need because most sites probably just have a single contact form.
You’ll only need to pay if you want to protect multiple forms per site. There are two pricing plans:
- Pro – $49 per year to protect unlimited forms on one website.
- Agency – $149 per year to protect unlimited forms on up to ten websites.
One thing to note is that Human Presence treats your site’s built-in comment form as a separate form for billing purposes. So if you want to protect both your comment form and a contact form, that would count as two forms and you’d need the Pro license.
If you want to save some money, we have an exclusive Human Presence coupon code that you can use to snag a discount:
Note – the prices above are for WordPress sites. It will be different for other platforms. For example, the Shopify app costs $6.99 per month for full-store protection, including checkout bots.
Stop WordPress Form Spam for Good
Comment spam and form spam are big issues for WordPress sites. In fact, form security is not something you should take lightly.
One pretty foolproof way to stop spam and be more secure is to use a CAPTCHA. However, CAPTCHAs are double-edged swords because, while they do stop spam, they also annoy your human visitors, which isn’t a good thing.
Human Presence offers a way to stop form spam without annoying your legitimate visitors or changing a single detail on the front end of your site, which is a pretty powerful value proposition.
While my portfolio site didn’t have a huge problem with form spam, I was getting several spam submissions per day via WPForms and Human Presence did a good job of cutting that down to zero.
If you’re having a problem with spam, I recommend testing out the free version of the plugin on the form that’s having problems. If it works well (and you have more forms that need help), you can then upgrade to the premium version to protect those additional forms.