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?

  • 5
    Maybe this test page can help developers to check this out and find an alternative solution: websitepulse.com/help/testtools.china-test.html
    – Aristos
    Commented Nov 4, 2012 at 7:39
  • Workaround: torproject.org/projects/obfsproxy.html.en Commented Nov 4, 2012 at 8:59
  • 22
    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
    Commented Nov 4, 2012 at 9:36
  • 14
    @KooKiz: No freehand circles, obviously a bot :)
    – kennytm
    Commented Nov 4, 2012 at 10:40
  • Not a bot just the great firewall.. google groups , youtube is also blocked Commented Nov 4, 2012 at 11:34
  • torproject servers all blocked... websitepulse.com/help/testtools.china-test.html also blocked... Commented Nov 4, 2012 at 12:05
  • 1
    Hmm isn't Google blocked in China now? Recaptcha comes via Google, that might be why. Can you get Recaptcha on any other site?
    – Zelda
    Commented Nov 5, 2012 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.
    – laurent
    Commented Nov 6, 2012 at 3:41
  • @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
    – Zelda
    Commented Nov 6, 2012 at 13:39

5 Answers 5


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.

  • 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
    Commented Nov 8, 2012 at 1:06
  • 4
    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.
    – user50049
    Commented Nov 8, 2012 at 7:39
  • 2
    Umm .. this just in, ouch.
    – user50049
    Commented Nov 10, 2012 at 17:35
  • 4
    How about using the other Captcha alternatives other than Googe? Commented Sep 6, 2014 at 14:03

One solution is given by Minecraft users which might work here too...

Use the gooreplacer browser extension to replace www.google.com/recaptcha (blocked in China) with recaptcha.net/recaptcha (not blocked in China).

  • 1
    You may use proxy, e.g xxnet, SquirrelVPN.
    – Eric
    Commented Feb 3, 2020 at 11:14

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.

  • 2
    Even mods are rate limited. It's come up in the past, but they're extremely unlikely to do anything much differently.
    – user50049
    Commented Nov 8, 2012 at 7:44
  • 4
    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... Commented Nov 8, 2012 at 7:51

I recently posted a question asking about CAPTCHA in China on StackExchange websites. The solution appeared to be "SE doesn't have this option because it would involve necessarily rolling their own CAPTCHA, which is obviously buggy and insecure." And I agree that would be buggy and insecure, but that's not the only solution.

Websites such as Taobao and JD.com and pretty much any website in China use WeChat to verify human-ness. You need to register with WeChat using their real-name verification, which is a process pretty much everyone in China does, and is associated with your government ID or passport number. These websites display QR codes, which the user simply scans with WeChat.

WeChat provides an API for integrating such QR scans into any website. I'm working on developing a WeChat interface, and it's pretty straightforward to use and understand, even if some of the documentation is only available in Chinese (which I cannot read). There are many steps of security here for ensuring that the person scanning the QR code is a real person.

I think this is a reasonable solution to the problem of SE's CAPTCHA being disallowed in China. I feel bad for necroposting, but this post suggests that I shouldn't.

  • 2
    This check obviously seems to be doing more than just verifying human-ness, since it also tracks the real identity of the person, but if that's the way to do it in China, I think SE should at least consider it. It's still better than preventing the user from using the website due to a broken captcha.
    – laurent
    Commented May 10, 2019 at 15:07

I had this happen using Firefox Android in desktop view with privacy settings enabled, I could see the Captcha Banner but not the checkbox.

I disabled "Request Desktop Site" and the page reloaded (blank, so I had to paste my answer in again), then I submitted my answer and the Captcha challenge was not offered.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .