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I have a login form currently that may get recaptcha errors for various reasons

Here are some error codes that are possible

What do I tell the user when I run into one of these errors?

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    Didn't you already ask this question once? ux.stackexchange.com/questions/141120/…
    – jazZRo
    Jan 22 at 14:46
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    Do you actually inform admin every time there is a captcha error? If that doesn't generate a huge amount of spam, I would question whether you really need a captcha in the first place, or maybe a simple rate limit would do.
    – jpa
    Jan 22 at 18:21
  • for login form a captcha would be necessary @jpa i dont inform the admin via email but thinking of adding some events via sentry that ll tell me if captcha errors are occuring
    – PirateApp
    Jan 23 at 2:30
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    @PirateApp If the captcha is necessary, you will continuously have a lot of captcha errors. The few errors by the legitimate user will get lost in the noise, so telling the user that "admin has been informed" is outright lie. Leave that out, and some user will actually tell you when your login form is broken.
    – jpa
    Jan 23 at 6:15

2 Answers 2

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A clear "it depends".

An error like "secrets error" is broadcasting "the admin doesn't know how to implement this feature correctly" to those in the know, while offering precious little information to the user as to what they can do and what to expect. Being more generic and saying "Server error. Please try again in a few hours." would give the user a much clearer picture: It's not their fault, and they'll have to be patient for a while until it's fixed.

However, for userside errors, a bit more specificity is appreciated: If the captcha fails because of a timeout, a message like "Captcha timeout. Please try again" would give an indication to the user of "ah, I have to be faster finding my password this round".

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Clear communication is very important while explaining the error cause. I'd advise you to:

  • Use human language when explaining the error. Avoid using error codes like "missing-input-secret", these are only useful for the developer, not the user;
  • Use a meaningful description that would not only explain the error well to less tech-savvy users, but also provide a solution on how should the error be fixed. For example instead of "Captcha had an issue" it should state whether the user has inserted the captcha wrong or is it the problem on server's side;
  • Keep the tone friendly. Error codes should help the user in a polite/friendly manner.

These tips are taken from Nielsen Norman Group and they have an entire article regarding error messages' visibility, communication and efficiency.

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