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In the past few days (I can't remember when this started, I think around 2011-10-20 give or take a couple of days), I've had far more captchas than usual. I'm getting more than one a day, when until then I'd never get a captcha for posting an answer, only for unusual behavior (like make multiple edits or many comments or cast many votes in quick succession). In each case, I was just posting an answer (or in one case a question), I hadn't done anything unusual or strange.

Today I've had four captcha requests: two on Unix, one on Travel, and one on — I'm not 100% sure now (it was a couple of hours ago), but I think it was French. How many times do I need to prove that I'm not a robot‽

100100100010111011100100110011100000010011100110101001100010111000101110100101100111011011100110000001001000011001110110011101101111011010011110100101100111011011100110

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migrated from meta.unix.stackexchange.com Nov 3 '11 at 0:22

This question came from our discussion, support, and feature requests site for users of Linux, FreeBSD and other Un*x-like operating systems..

    
And it's not just answers: I was just captchaed for this question, five minutes after being captchaed for an answer on the main site. –  Gilles Oct 27 '11 at 22:08
    
For reference, this post: meta.stackexchange.com/q/1343 defines the official trigger levels to generate a captcha. Are you triggering at those limits, or do the captchas seem to be appearing at other times? See also meta.stackexchange.com/q/37324. –  Kevin Vermeer Nov 3 '11 at 1:13
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I know why this is happening ... discussing with the team –  waffles Nov 3 '11 at 1:14
    
In particular "The minimum window is 5 seconds" was disabled by mistake which caused bots to flood us –  waffles Nov 3 '11 at 1:15
    
@Kevin I was nowhere near these thresholds. I'd spend at least several minutes composing an answer, then get a captcha when posting. –  Gilles Nov 3 '11 at 9:57
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It started around 2011-11-20? Is this a warning that you are going to start spamming in a couple weeks? –  ughoavgfhw Nov 4 '11 at 2:38
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@ughoavgfhw It was a subtle way of conveying that I'm not a robot: I can't count. (What, I'm not credible? Well, how about this: surely sci-fi has taught you that robots cannot pretend to joke?) –  Gilles Nov 4 '11 at 8:21
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2 Answers 2

up vote 7 down vote accepted

Wow, this was an interesting bug ... or series of bugs.

I fixed our anti-bot spam protection a few weeks ago, to great effect. However, there was a separate series of bugs in the code responsible for invoking it in JavaScript. In some cases it was being called twice, causing double the spam protection. Our server side could not handle that doubling of data.

Should be much better now.

FYI I added some rich logging around all captcha invocations, we can do some pretty deep analysis on this, ping me if you notice any weird and misplace captchas.

For the record, if you edit or post an answer real quick (5 seconds) you will still get a CAPTCHA.

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My impression is that I get captchas mostly when I post real slow... –  Benjol Nov 4 '11 at 7:54
    
@Benjol I fixed and deployed a serious bug there ... if you take hours to post an answer (from the time you started) you will get a CAPTCHA. If you take less than 5 secs you will as well. Otherwise you should not. –  waffles Nov 4 '11 at 7:57
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I've had this problem on a regular basis, but only on Unix and Linux. It goes in spells, once it thinks I'm a robot it keeps trying to catch me up for a couple of days before it lets me go.

I have had 4 or 5 spells of this on this site but never on other sites. I assume this must have to do with the content of posts triggering higher suspicion weights.

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