How to avoid the MailChimp “too many attempts” signup error

While launching my Working with JavaScript and WordPress course, I ended up getting on one of the e-blasts from the JavaScript for WP course.

While I was getting a lot of signups without any issues, a couple people reported seeing a “too many attempts” error even though they’ve never tried to sign up before and only tried once.  I tried on my phone and sure enough, I saw the same error yet signups were still coming in.

Since there were a lot of signups I thought it might be an error with the volume of new signups at once but really, I don’t think my launch was so huge that it would cause some kind of volume-based error on MailChimps side – that would be nice!

I hopped on with MailChimp support and after some back and forth, it looked like it might be related to when a browser auto-fills the fields.  By default, the MailChimp signup form includes a hidden HTML field that’s suppose to trap spam bots that automatically fill out the signup form:

   <!-- real people should not fill this in and expect good things - do not remove this or risk form bot signups-->
   <div style="position: absolute; left: -5000px;" aria-hidden="true"><input type="text" name="b_98b752164e5f27815c50336ea_245ab27248" tabindex="-1" value=""></div>

The div is hidden way off the page but the input is a ‘visible’ input.

Unfortunately, some browser auto fills – like the most popular browser Google Chrome – will also put some data into that input triggering the error.

MailChimp mentions it in one of their knowledge base articles but it’s pretty hidden (search for the text “too many attempts”), and in their recommendations on how to fix:

If your browser has an auto-fill setting, try turning it off—it can fill a hidden field that we include in the code to prevent spam signups.
We recommend keeping the hidden field in your signup form to prevent bots from signing up spam email addresses to your list.


But really, if a lot of people use auto fill so they don’t type their email address and will be blocked from signing up because of it, the hidden “spam honeypot” field should either be a) not there by default or b) a big warning shown on the MailChimp embedded form generator of this issue.

It’s an easy fix, just remove that hidden div with the input from the form, and you won’t have this issue.

If you have double opt-in enabled, chances are it will be a non-issue of spam email addresses ending up on your list.  I’ve checked with a couple people using MailChimp with 20,000+ size lists and they’ve not had any issues removing this field.

Hopefully MailChimp will fix the issue but for now, they’re passing it off as a browser-based issue they cannot fix.

I’m just hoping I’ll get a massive surge in signups now 🙂