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Yesterday I wanted to find an old comment of mine (with information relevant to a post I was composing), so I opened my All actions/comments profile page, and Ctrl+F'ed my way through the pages.

I stopped before reaching it, because I was flicking through the pages rapidly, and last time I did that, I was rate limited (IP blocked).

That story is relevant here, and it was recent. I joined a site, asked my first question, got my answer, browsed around, and very much enjoyed that site and its professional community. The site is still in beta, with the beta stats banner.

From there I found myself in Area 51, flicking through the past beta users of another site; mindless fun seeing who's been there since the beginning. And bam, IP blocked.

I copied the relevant information and e-mailed the on-screen address. No reply for some time so frankly I just changed my IP. 8 hours later I got the reply:

While we are unable to remove or raise the rate limit for you, the rate limit isn't something you should worry too much about. In most cases, the limit should already be removed automatically by the time you've received this reply.

  1. Is it Area 51 only? Because frankly the sites I frequent, I flick through the pages a lot: new questions added, recent activity, checking how a comment thread is doing, opening new questions in separate tabs quickly, etc.

  2. Twice it's happened while googling for hard to find stuff, Google would captcha me midway (despite being logged on to Google). Why doesn't SE implement a captcha when it senses rapid browsing?

So basically, should I be worried about how fast I use the site (excluding Area 51)?

  • Just out of curiosity, are you using Internet Explorer 11 on Windows 8, and if not, are you using any extensions that could be hitting the site with one or more extra requests every time you load a page? – Sonic the Anonymous Hedgehog Aug 10 at 9:01
  • @SonictheAnonymousWizHog: No extra request extensions (all manual browsing), and mainly Firefox on Windows 10. – ymb1 Aug 10 at 9:02
  • To save yourself pain, I'd suggest a Stack Exchange Data Explorer query: SELECT Id as [Comment Id], Text FROM Comments WHERE UserId = YourUserIdHere AND Text LIKE '%Your search here - keep the percent signs!%' . It also doesn't make enough requests to trigger rate limiting, and it saves you time – Olivia Aug 10 at 9:02
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    As far as I understand the IP rate limiting is done at the Edge of the SE network by a server running an HA Proxy. So that is way before there is any notion of sites or who you are. If you are reaching the sites from a shared network (company, school, some weird ISP, TOR exit point) the IP rate limit might not even be caused by you but by other users. – rene Aug 10 at 9:05
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    @Olivia but Area51 isn't in SEDE ... – rene Aug 10 at 9:06
  • @rene oh, I didn't know that :] – Olivia Aug 10 at 9:07
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    From my own experiments an IP rate limit is for a duration of 120 seconds. – rene Aug 10 at 9:11
  • @rene, so by the time you finished writing your email to SE the rate limit is already lifted. Man, that makes for a lot of mails to answer without any point in them. – Luuklag Aug 10 at 13:38
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The Area 51 code was forked from the earliest Stack Exchange code long ago, so you may run into older behaviors which no longer happen in the rest of the network. That is almost certainly what you are experiencing here.

So basically, should I be worried…

No. Rate limiting was added to detect robotic activity such as website scrapers (the API is the preferred method for bulk applications). Detecting problematic behaviors has become more sophisticated in the rest of the network, so the chances of a "real human" being escalated to the volume of non-human behaviors are slim to none.

As the support response stated, the rate limit isn't something you should worry about. Rate limiting expires quickly (typically minutes), so if you trigger something inadvertently, just wait it out. It will expire harmlessly.

  • So Area 51 has a smaller rate limit from most sites? – Sonic the Anonymous Hedgehog Aug 10 at 15:54
  • @SonictheAnonymousWizHog I don't now if Area 51's rate-limiting is simply shorter... or just less sophisticated in filtering out false positives. – Robert Cartaino Aug 10 at 15:57

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