Tuesday , July 16 2019
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Working on Cloudflare’s Captcha Hell

Summary:
Dear patient readers, It appears that in the last two weeks some readers are getting captchas with much greater frequency when they try to comment, and worse, for some, the captcha refuses to accept correct responses. The really bad cases seem to be happening to readers using older OS and browsers, but we aren’t sure it is limited to them. We are pretty confident this problem comes from Cloudflare. We already tried contacting Cloudflare to tell the about this new bad behavior and also opened up a trouble ticket, but all we have gotten so far is bureaucratic handwaves (and yes, we pay a reasonable amount of hard dollars to Cloudflare, so the poor customer service attitude does not speak well of them). Our webhost is concerned that if we turn off the captcha function altogether, we will be

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Dear patient readers,

It appears that in the last two weeks some readers are getting captchas with much greater frequency when they try to comment, and worse, for some, the captcha refuses to accept correct responses. The really bad cases seem to be happening to readers using older OS and browsers, but we aren’t sure it is limited to them.

We are pretty confident this problem comes from Cloudflare. We already tried contacting Cloudflare to tell the about this new bad behavior and also opened up a trouble ticket, but all we have gotten so far is bureaucratic handwaves (and yes, we pay a reasonable amount of hard dollars to Cloudflare, so the poor customer service attitude does not speak well of them).

Our webhost is concerned that if we turn off the captcha function altogether, we will be inundated with spam. In theory Akismet (a spam service that works with WordPress) ought to catch that, but theory and practice are often different things. We could have the moderator swamped with spam in the mod queue, or worse, lots of spam showing up in published comments before we can nuke them.

So our webhost Keith will debug this by changing single Cloudflare settings, with the plan being to test one a day, to see if the change doesn’t wreck havoc with site operations and whether it significantly reduced the captcha problem. This is painstaking, so please bear with us.

So if you get a captcha, please e-mail me at yves-at-nakedcapitalism-dot-com with “Captcha” in the headline and tell us:

1. The time when you got the captcha

2. If this is new or if it happened before

3. If it happened before, whether the frequency seems higher, lower, the same, or you aren’t sure

4. If it happened before, if the severity is the same or worse (as in if you are a “captcha hell” victim who got multiple challenges on the same comment, are you still getting multiple challenges or has it at least dropped down to a single challenge?)

5. Your OS and browser (including versions).

Thanks!

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