Strategies to Combat Bots in Survey
06 Mar 2024

Strategies to Combat Bots in Survey

In the age of digital advancement, survey research has become an integral tool for gathering valuable insights across various fields, from market analysis to academic studies. It is a critical way to gain first-person feedback and attitudes on products, services, issues, and current events.

However, with the proliferation of bots and automated scripts, the integrity of survey data is increasingly at risk. Bots can distort results, skew demographics, and undermine the reliability of research findings. As a result, market research vendors and suppliers have implemented several strategies to combat bots in survey research, ensuring the authenticity and accuracy of collected data.

Implement CAPTCHA or reCAPTCHA:

One of the most effective ways to deter bots is by integrating CAPTCHA (Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart) or its advanced version, reCAPTCHA, into survey platforms. These mechanisms require users to complete tasks that are easy for humans but difficult for bots, such as identifying distorted text, selecting images, or solving puzzles. By adding this extra layer of verification, researchers can significantly reduce bot interference in survey responses.

Utilize IP Address Tracking:

Tracking IP addresses can help identify and block suspicious activities associated with bots. Since each device connected to the internet has a unique IP address, monitoring and analyzing this data can reveal patterns indicative of bot activity, such as multiple submissions from the same IP within a short time frame. Implementing IP address tracking tools in surveys allows researchers to flag and exclude responses likely generated by bots.

Employ Time-Based Response Limits:

Setting time-based response limits can help prevent bots from inundating surveys with rapid submissions. A survey submitted too quickly or much longer than expected can be flagged as a suspicious respondent. Additionally, scheduling surveys available only during certain hours or days can further discourage bot participation. For example, humans are less likely to be taking a survey at 2 AM unless they have a case of severe insomnia.

Utilize Honeypot Questions:

Honeypot questions, also called “Red Herrings,” serve as decoys designed to trap bots while remaining inconspicuous to human participants. These questions are placed within surveys and are typically hidden from view or embedded within irrelevant sections. Bots, lacking contextual understanding, are more likely to fall into these traps by providing nonsensical or inconsistent responses. Researchers can then flag and filter out submissions associated with honeypot questions, preserving the integrity of the dataset.

Monitor Survey Traffic in Real-Time:

Continuous real-time survey traffic monitoring enables researchers to promptly detect and respond to both intrusions as they occur. Proactive monitoring ensures that bots are swiftly identified and neutralized before they can compromise the validity of survey data.1

Bots will continue to pose a challenge to survey research, and they will get smarter over time. Market research companies will continue to study ways to combat the bot issue in this research. By implementing a combination of CAPTCHA, IP address tracking, time-based response limits, honeypot questions, and real-time monitoring, researchers can fortify their surveys against bot interference and uphold the credibility of their findings. By adopting these proactive measures, survey researchers can confidently navigate the battlefield of bot intrusion, ensuring the integrity and reliability of their research outcomes.


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