Lately we've been using invisible reCAPTCHA, and more recently reCAPTCHA v3.

Both are hidden and don't require the user to enter a code or tick a box to confirm they are human.

So when there is an error for whatever reason, the message is likely to confuse the user (like attached).

Normally these errors would only be shown to a user if they did something to trigger googles spam detection, like filled the form to quickly or too slowly, or from an IP range thats known for spam, etc. Also during UAT it shows up a lot as the same people register over and over to test a site.

What error messages do you use or would you suggest for this situation? Something generic like "There was an error processing the form, please try again" (because in most cases, if the human user refreshes and tries again it will probably work).

Interested to know what others have done?

enter image description here

  • I remember getting a "popup" message on some homepage that my site usage was irregular followed by a Captcha. I never really thought about it but it was probably the homepages solution to your question.
    – GittingGud
    Commented Apr 29, 2019 at 12:31

3 Answers 3


You mentioned that in most cases a refresh and submitting the form again would resolve the error, but it seems that a refresh and second attempt would not actually resolve it if:

  1. someone is coming from an IP address that triggers the error
  2. Someone is using a plugin like 1Password or saved form fields in the browser to automatically fill in the form, making it seem as though it was completed too fast (how common this would be depends on what the form is asking - could be fairly common if it’s just asking for identifying info or a credit card)

Rather than coming up with an appropriate error message, I would consider a flow to let the user manually verify that they’re not a robot and let them complete the task they were trying to complete without having to start over and re-fill the form if the invisible captcha fails.

I have seen in some places (Google products come to mind) a manual captcha that only reveals itself conditionally with a message like “please verify that you’re a human”.

  • 2
    OK so what you're saying is fallback to a manual captcha if the invisible captcha fails? Commented Apr 29, 2019 at 5:42
  • @creatio-mitchell yes
    – Mike Eng
    Commented Apr 29, 2019 at 11:16

In case of error, show the CAPTCHA.

Showing the CAPTCHA, in this case, gives the user both the error message and the context around it. You'll also automatically solve any issues where reCAPTCHA sends an alternate version, such as the image identification.


Regarding re-submitting the form to get a successful reCAPTCHA validation: The reCAPTCHA (v3) tokens are only valid for 2 minutes. After that they will fail to validate. If you then reload the form and submit again (this time within two minutes) you will have a valid token. If you implement it correctly though, and refresh the token (client-side) if the user spend more then 2 minutes on the page, there should be no problem.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.