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I was trying to post a question on Stackoverflow but got redirected to the Human Verification page. The problem is that the CAPTCHA never loads here in China, it just times out after 4 minutes. Probably because it comes from Google and Google servers are often blocked here (see screenshot below).

Stackoverflow in general works great here however being prevented from asking questions just because of a CAPTCHA that never loads is a bit frustrating (though obviously the only responsible here is the Chinese firewall).

Is there anything SO could do to allow users from countries like China to post questions? The CAPTCHA is such a critical part of it that it's a pity it depends on a third-party that doesn't load in some countries. Why not host the CAPTCHA on stackoverflow.com? Alternatively, why not offer an alternative for users who cannot see the CAPTCHA? Maybe an email confirmation or something similar?

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Maybe this test page can help developers to check this out and find an alternative solution: websitepulse.com/help/testtools.china-test.html –  Aristos Nov 4 '12 at 7:39
    
Workaround: torproject.org/projects/obfsproxy.html.en –  Mechanical snail Nov 4 '12 at 8:59
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Or maybe, just maybe, you're a bot unable to pass the captcha but intelligent enough to post on meta to find another way around? How can we be sure? –  KooKiz Nov 4 '12 at 9:36
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@KooKiz: No freehand circles, obviously a bot :) –  KennyTM Nov 4 '12 at 10:40
    
Not a bot just the great firewall.. google groups , youtube is also blocked –  user1496062 Nov 4 '12 at 11:34
    
torproject servers all blocked... websitepulse.com/help/testtools.china-test.html also blocked... –  user1496062 Nov 4 '12 at 12:05
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Hmm isn't Google blocked in China now? Recaptcha comes via Google, that might be why. Can you get Recaptcha on any other site? –  Ben Brocka Nov 5 '12 at 21:46
    
@BenBrocka, some Google services are completely blocked, like YouTube or Google Apps, some others work but are severely slowed down by the firewall like the search engine, Gmail or Google Reader. It seems to have gotten worse recently, sometime it takes a minute or two to get a result in Google search. For Recaptcha, it seems completely blocked at the moment. –  this.lau_ Nov 6 '12 at 3:41
    
So there are humans in China? :) –  Benjol Nov 6 '12 at 10:47
    
@Laurent yeah, I just tried a "great firewall" checker, apparently search isn't blocked, odd to see Recaptcha specifically is blocked...I can't see why the service would be objectionable –  Ben Brocka Nov 6 '12 at 13:39
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2 Answers

up vote 4 down vote accepted

Outside of building our own internal captcha there isn't a whole lot we can do here. We have talked about many various options none of which were very technically appealing. We will continue to listen to those affected by this and will readdress this if it becomes a large scale problem.

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Doesn't making an account remove the verification unless you do something too quickly? Even in that case it seems that all you need to do is wait a minute and it goes away. –  TheLQ Nov 8 '12 at 1:06
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I agree, you pretty much need to be in the business of captcha in order implement it less than laughingly. It seems like it would be a fun challenge and then you realize that you stopped shaving and bathing months ago. –  Tim Post Nov 8 '12 at 7:39
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Umm .. this just in, ouch. –  Tim Post Nov 10 '12 at 17:35
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In my opinion it is very unlikely that users above a certain reputation level (such as the > 10k of the OP) abuse their account to post spam or do other undesired stuff on purpose.

So wouldn't it be an option to let users above a certain reputation level and from certain countries request a "permanent human" flag, given that they have confirmed to have a safe password, log out after usage on public computers, etc? In this way active and contributing users won't be bugged that much.

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Even mods are rate limited. It's come up in the past, but they're extremely unlikely to do anything much differently. –  Tim Post Nov 8 '12 at 7:44
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Is don't think rate limiting needs to be disabled. The site could then simply state "Please wait x minutes before posting your question." But the "Whoa - this could be a bot" mechanism should not trigger at this users... –  Spontifixus Nov 8 '12 at 7:51
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