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When Tor-users try to sign up, they consistently get this error message:

Something went wrong. Please contact us at [email protected] for assistance.

update: somewhere between 30 june and 18 july, the error message has been updated, it now reads:

You cannot register at this time. If you continue to find this error, contact us.

However this error-message is unhelpful, because when Tor users actually contact [email protected] for assistance, they basically say:

We cannot help you. We cannot create the account for you manually, and we cannot remove the tor signup block.

Stop using Tor.

A more helpful error message is warranted IMO, maybe something like:

(Unfortunately?) Tor users are not allowed to sign up at this time.

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    @JourneymanGeekOnStrike even so, SE should say it's officially blocked. (yeah I know how absurd it is to expect SE to be transparent about their actions these days. Just silly wishful thinking.) Jul 17, 2023 at 11:56
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    The ambiguity reminds me of the "Body cannot contain """ error due to CJK characters, Jul 17, 2023 at 11:57
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    Possibly related? Update on the ongoing DDoS attacks and blocking Tor exit nodes
    – Larnu
    Jul 17, 2023 at 12:57
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    @Larnu maybe, but tor exit nodes are not blocked from browsing, they are not even blocked from logging in, the only thing they are blocked from, is signing up.
    – hanshenrik
    Jul 17, 2023 at 15:00
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    @Cerbrus Tor users are being instructed to contact specific people for help, some people who cannot help in any way, thus wasting everyone's time, wasting the Tor user's time for writing an email, and wasting the people monitoring [email protected] 's time for having to read and respond to inquiries they cannot help with, and giving the tor user a false sense of hope (surely the people over at [email protected] can help me get registered- false) - but the error message might be accidental rather than deliberate, i wouldn't know (it's closed-source)
    – hanshenrik
    Jul 17, 2023 at 15:27
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    @sonic I'm aware. Paraphrasing is often unhelpful as it hides exactly this sort of problem. Putting it in quote markdown further leads users to think that this is an actual quote, even if it says otherwise.
    – Catija
    Jul 17, 2023 at 19:10
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    @Catija ticket number: 107527 - and the actual quote is Unfortunately, at this time, I am not able to lift this restriction nor we can't register users manually. You can try registering at another time from a different device and using different credentials or trying not using the proxy.
    – hanshenrik
    Jul 18, 2023 at 8:24
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    @Cerbrus oh thanks. well yes, that was a direct copypaste of the error message, 1 july, but i just tried again, and now the error message has changed. the new error message text is You cannot register at this time. If you continue to find this error, contact us. - with "contact us" being a clickable link to law.stackexchange.com/contact
    – hanshenrik
    Jul 18, 2023 at 9:47
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    As far as I'm aware, we haven't changed the error message - it's possible there are multiple messages depending on the problem you encounter. We have several systems in place that may intervene to prevent new account creations. As a note, @Cerbrus I was actually looking for the ticket response. :)
    – Catija
    Jul 18, 2023 at 12:57

2 Answers 2

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Perhaps it would be useful to extend the error message slightly?

You cannot register at this time. If you are using a service which obscures your real IP address, try turning it off. If you still continue to receive this error, contact us.

(I also changed find to receive, which I believe is more idiomatic here.)

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  • "which obscures your real IP address (like Tor), ..."
    – Jan Doggen
    Dec 29, 2023 at 12:57
  • @JanDoggen I guess, though there are many others, and you would expect the users to be able to identify whether they are using one, perhaps after some thinking.
    – tripleee
    Dec 29, 2023 at 13:41
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The solution to this is not to fix the error message.

The solution to this issue is to stop discrimination against at-risk users who need to use Tor to protect themselves.

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    Tor's great, but a lot of abuse comes from Tor. If you have a solution to that, feel free to write up a proposal and ask it separately.
    – wizzwizz4
    Dec 24, 2023 at 3:19
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    We already have moderation tools in-place. Use them. Wholesale blocking of Tor users is like saying "the internet is a source of abuse, so we shut off the internet from our server". It is not ethical to block Tor. It harms marginalized folks that need to use it to protect themselves. Dec 24, 2023 at 6:04
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    Moderation tools and people are already at the break point without a free door from one of the worst sources of attack and abuse. Suggesting that it's unethical to protect the users here because some others need to protect themselves is unreasonable.
    – Nij
    Dec 24, 2023 at 6:21
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    "at-risk users who need to use Tor to protect themselves." Sorry, but nobody needs to use SE that badly. This is just entitlement.
    – Cerbrus
    Dec 24, 2023 at 8:18
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    "at-risk users / marginalized folks who need to use Tor to protect themselves" - I don't understand the category you describe. What could cause a person to have any more "need" than anyone else for such "protection"? What might such users be "at risk" of, and how could Tor "protect" them from such a "risk", even in principle? And why do you say "at-risk users" one time and "marginalized folks" the other time? Those seem to mean two completely unrelated things. Dec 24, 2023 at 9:39
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    Finally: by "marginalized" I assume you are referring to a concept along the lines of en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Protected_group . Am I correct? If so: how could anyone else know that some person on the Internet is a member of such a group, other than such person explicitly disclosing the fact? If this is not possible, would it not then suffice for people to just... not explicitly disclose personally identifying information? Dec 24, 2023 at 9:41
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    Examples of groups that need to use Tor and other technologies to protect themselves when searching for information online include: cancer patients, domestic abuse survivors, refugees, journalists, human rights workers, whistleblowers, etc Dec 24, 2023 at 16:59
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    @KarlKnechtel There are plenty of people who can't use the clearnet safely. The legal definition of “protected group” is heuristic, based on the real-world category of marginalised people, because such people need additional protections to ensure their safety; it's not the other way around. (If the designation of protected groups were arbitrary, I'd be the first to ignore it.)
    – wizzwizz4
    Dec 24, 2023 at 17:03
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    I also can't fathom the implied definition of "discrimination" in this post, or the reasoning behind it. Dec 24, 2023 at 20:27
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    It might be helpful to outline how such usage actually looks. I fully understand that there are situations in which it is a risk to browse the internet in the clear, and I fully understand that there are situations in which one wants to browse SE - but where is the overlap? What is the risk of browsing SE in the clear? Mind, this might just be naïveté from using the more technical sites and not being in a situation of risk, so this answer spelling out what the majority seems to miss would help. Dec 25, 2023 at 7:05
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    @MichaelAltfield Again I get that certain people are at risk when performing certain actions in the clear, but this again skips how "use SE to ask questions and publish content" is such an action that poses a risk to the people. For example, I see how "investigative journalists & human rights workers risk death" but not how "investigative journalists & human rights workers risk death [by using SE]". SE doesn’t seem to cover the kind of content that is risky. Dec 25, 2023 at 7:29
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    @MichaelAltfield Please humor me; what internet activity is available to any non-moderator, non-staff member user of another user's activities on SE that could be used to locate them in the real world? Since SE is the ground under discussion here, I feel it's a fair question.
    – Daedalus
    Dec 25, 2023 at 8:11
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    @MichaelAltfield For us to believe you, you have to give us more than that. The onus is on you to convince us/staff your point is valid if you want it implemented.
    – Daedalus
    Dec 25, 2023 at 18:29
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    @MichaelAltfield You created the answer here; you can't expect us to do your research for you. As I already said, the onus is on you to explain yourself. If you can't do that, then why bother with this answer at all? None of that answers my question directly, which is what information is available to the normal user that violates that security you speak of. I did read up briefly on what information can be exposed in a GET request... from the server side. None of that is available to the everyday user.
    – Daedalus
    Dec 25, 2023 at 19:11
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    @MichaelAltfield So we're just trolls to you because we're asking for an in-depth explanation to your answer that lacks details?
    – Daedalus
    Dec 26, 2023 at 22:39

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