How to solve a broken captcha

Martin Brinkmann
Jul 7, 2016

One more step, please complete the security check to access a site, may be displayed to you when you try to access certain sites on the Internet.

This happens to me a lot when I connect the device to a virtual private network or Tor. Usually, it means clicking on the "I'm not a robot" box first, and selecting images showing specific types of objects afterwards.

You may be asked to select all images with grass, house numbers, or store fronts. Depending on CloudFlare's algorithm, you may be done after selecting them on the first screen, or new images are loaded that you need to select matching images from as well.

How to solve a broken captcha

But what if the captcha is broken? What if there are no images with store fronts, trees, or recreational vehicles left, but the captcha claims there are?

Hitting the verify button returns the error "please also check the new images". This you cannot do because there are not any that match the criteria. While you may be tempted to select a random image in this case that resembles the required type the most, you may end up decreasing your "not a bot" score doing so.


You have two options to deal with the issue. First, you may hit the reload button at the bottom left corner of the captcha interface to get a new challenge.

This loads a new challenge and resets everything so that you can start anew. While it adds to the time it takes to solve the captcha, it is a valid option to solve it and get the site in question to load.

You may also hit the F5 key on the keyboard or click on the reload button instead on the page for the same effect.

Audio Challenge

The second option is to switch to audio challenges. This is the second button at the bottom of the screen.

audio challenge captcha

The challenge lists words or phrases, and asks you to pick those that match a category the best. For instance, you may be asked to pick phrases that match creating content, private operator or important resource.

Since it uses the same system as the image captcha, there is a chance that you may not be able to solve that captcha either.

You may go back to the image captcha at any time with another click on the button.

The report a problem link won't help you right away, but you may use it to report captchas without a valid solution. This may help CloudFlare optimize their content better and reduce or eliminate the problem completely.

Closing Words

I ran into captchas without valid solution more often in recent time. While they are few and far between, it is an annoyance that CloudFlare should get a grip on and resolve as it is frustrating.

Another thing that I would like CloudFlare to do is find a way to display a "are you a real human" check only once for a browsing session, and not every time you load a new site protected by their service.

Firefox users may check out CloudHole for that, a third-party solution that aims to make this more user friendly by re-using cookies.

How to solve a broken captcha
Article Name
How to solve a broken captcha
Find out what you can do if the captcha code displayed to you cannot be solved when it is displayed while you are trying to load Internet sites.
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  1. ilev said on August 4, 2012 at 7:53 pm

    Doesn’t Windows 8 know that www. or http:// are passe ?

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on August 4, 2012 at 7:57 pm

      Well it is a bit difficulty to distinguish between domains and files for instance.

    2. Leonidas Burton said on September 4, 2023 at 4:51 am

      I know a service made by google that is similar to Google bookmarks.

  2. VioletMoon said on August 16, 2023 at 5:26 pm

    @Ashwin–Thankful you delighted my comment; who knows how many “gamers” would have disagreed!

  3. Karl said on August 17, 2023 at 10:36 pm


    The comments section under this very article (3 comments) is identical to the comments section found under the following article:

    Not sure what the issue is, but have seen this issue under some other articles recently but did not report it back then.

  4. Anonymous said on August 25, 2023 at 11:44 am

    Omg a badge!!!
    Some tangible reward lmao.

    It sucks that redditors are going to love the fuck out of it too.

  5. Scroogled said on August 25, 2023 at 10:57 pm

    With the cloud, there is no such thing as unlimited storage or privacy. Stop relying on these tech scums. Purchase your own hardware and develop your own solutions.

    1. lollmaoeven said on August 27, 2023 at 6:24 am

      This is a certified reddit cringe moment. Hilarious how the article’s author tries to dress it up like it’s anything more than a png for doing the reddit corporation’s moderation work for free (or for bribes from companies and political groups)

  6. El Duderino said on August 25, 2023 at 11:14 pm

    Almost al unlmited services have a real limit.

    And this comment is written on the dropbox article from August 25, 2023.

  7. John G. said on August 26, 2023 at 1:29 am

    First comment > @ilev said on August 4, 2012 at 7:53 pm

    For the God’s sake, fix the comments soon please! :[

  8. Kalmly said on August 26, 2023 at 4:42 pm

    Yes. Please. Fix the comments.

  9. Kim Schmidt said on September 3, 2023 at 3:42 pm

    With Google Chrome, it’s only been 1,500 for some time now.

    Anyone who wants to force me in such a way into buying something that I can get elsewhere for free will certainly never see a single dime from my side. I don’t even know how stupid their marketing department is to impose these limits on users instead of offering a valuable product to the paying faction. But they don’t. Even if you pay, you get something that is also available for free elsewhere.

    The algorithm has also become less and less savvy in terms of e.g. English/German translations. It used to be that the bot could sort of sense what you were trying to say and put it into different colloquialisms, which was even fun because it was like, “I know what you’re trying to say here, how about…” Now it’s in parts too stupid to translate the simplest sentences correctly, and the suggestions it makes are at times as moronic as those made by Google Translations.

    If this is a deep-learning AI that learns from users’ translations and the phrases they choose most often – which, by the way, is a valuable, moneys worthwhile contribution of every free user to this project: They invest their time and texts, thereby providing the necessary data for the AI to do the thing as nicely as they brag about it in the first place – alas, the more unprofessional users discovered the translator, the worse the language of this deep-learning bot has become, the greater the aggregate of linguistically illiterate users has become, and the worse the language of this deep-learning bot has become, as it now learns the drivel of every Tom, Dick and Harry out there, which is why I now get their Mickey Mouse language as suggestions: the inane language of people who can barely spell the alphabet, it seems.

    And as a thank you for our time and effort in helping them and their AI learn, they’ve lowered the limit from what was once 5,000 to now 1,500…? A big “fuck off” from here for that! Not a brass farthing from me for this attitude and behaviour, not in a hundred years.

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