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Problems donating via PayPal from France 07/24
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Jul 25 2023, 1:40 PM
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F37175429: screenshot 8.png
Aug 4 2023, 6:11 PM
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F37175614: screenshot 9.png
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A handful of donors reached out to us on 24th July sharing issues donating via PayPal from France after the first round of fundraising email 1.

All were previous PayPal donors, who know our flow, and two included screenshots:

ZD 1326556 / CID 27392606 shared the following:

utf-8''Capture d’écran 2023-07-24 à 17.03.14.jpg (752×2 px, 188 KB)

ZD 1326424 / CID 7809549 shared the following:

image.png (347×1 px, 44 KB)

Three other donors mentioned problems setting up a donation via PayPal. Two of the five mentioned they were attempting a monthly donation, a further one used to donate monthly via PP, so it could be the issue was on the recurring side - do approval rates looks normal for monthly donations via PayPal from France?

Note: There may be more in the queue as there are more who reported errors from France that we have not yet triaged.

Donor Relations was unable to replicate the issue using a French donation form, and no donors have reported this after today's second send (thus far!).

We have asked for more information.

Event Timeline

@RKumar_WMF can you follow up with Paypal on this?

We got some possibly useful feedback from the donor who shared the screenshot (1326556) and it seems the issue is connected with a redirect from the WTG page (translated from French):

//I arrive on the "Other ways to give" page, I read "Online donation", I read the paragraph and see "monthly donation" below, that's what I'm looking to do!
I read "please click here" since I want it to be via Paypal.
Click, donation amount, monthly donation, I click on €2, click on yes to stay in touch, I click on Paypal, I identify myself and confirm my intention, click, and it does not work.

I start over.

I arrive on the “Other ways to give” page. »
And I see at the top right a button whose name is in red, "Donate now".
And it was after clicking on this button that I finally managed to register my monthly donation.//

Do 'donate now' on WTG and 'click here' under monthly on WTG direct to different variants of the donation form? If not, this is anecdotal.

I am checking with Paypal as to the extent of any issues they are seeing as well. I am unable to replicate the problem on the WTG page from the US.

From Paypal: It is hitting our internal risk rules and also sending the donors through an auth flow. Please have them attempt to donate again..

I am inquiring if there is something on our end that we can do to avoid the donor from hitting their risk rules as we have several reports now around this.

Paypal response: "Nothing can be changed on the WMF end, it is on the donors side that is hitting our risk rules, nothing that can be changed… unfortunately."

When I challenged by this would be the case with donors with whom we have established relationships with they further state: "Sometimes it is a new IP or something that was added to the account. Looking at both they hit an IP rule which denied the payment. "

@FRTech - does this make sense to you?

We are still seeing these from French donors and it wasn't an issue last year. One yesterday (ZD 1328762 / CID 16391749) sent useful feedback and the URL:

"I tried to create a monthly donation of €2 thru Paypal. Unfortunately it ends up with an error :

In case it is helpful for you here is the complete URL with order id and token :"

Iqt3RjpMbtCyjXPs.png (429×1 px, 62 KB)

@AMJohnson sent him possible workarounds, and he replied thus:

"Changing browser and/ore device failed too. I had to give up Paypal and managed to make a monthly donation with my Visa card."

@EMartin I feel that something has changed, so can we follow up again? Or fr-tech - any ideas?

Noted. I am escalating with Paypal technical support to see what they can
tell me.

Case Number:12581679
Paypal transaction errors in France

@AMJohnson Paypal did not advise of any issue as they attempted to reproduce the problem. Everything is functioning ok in France, they report:
From Paypal:

Hi Evelyn,

Thank you for writing back to Merchant Technical Support. I hope you're doing well.

After reviewing the issue, I'd want to let you know that I went ahead and tested the button mentioned in the URL: It works perfectly fine, and the website is error-free. After clicking the Donate Now button I had the option to choose between multiple payment methods including PayPal. I chose PayPal and I was redirected to the option to Pay with a debit/credit card or PayPal account to complete the payment. It appears to be functioning. Attaching screenshot.

Screenshot 2023-07-28 at 5.33.22 PM

Also, I did notice payments in the transaction logs, indicating that the Express checkout button is processing correctly.

We looked into your account from our end and tried testing and did not face this error. There could be various possible reasons resulting in this error on your end. I will encourage you to perform a test transaction to replicate the issue your customers mentioned.

Please note that any live test attempts completed by you may be blocked because the PayPal system views these attempts as cash advancing which violates the PayPal User Agreement. So, if you wish to test your live PayPal button we suggest having a friend or colleague test from a different location using their credentials and their own funding source not associated with your PayPal account and also having them test using a different PayPal account instead of a different credit card, and see if any of these options work.

Collecting data here, the ones mentioned all came with the same error back from Paypal.

CIDOrder IdAmountErrorDonated Successfully in a second attempt
27392606178746839.12 EUR11581 - Profile description is invalidyes
7809549178740207.15 EUR11581 - Profile description is invalidno
16391749181723398.12 EUR11581 - Profile description is invalidyes

It looks like this error refers to the recurring payments starting parameters are not matching the finishing parameters. There is an old ticket mentioning this here T202644: PayPal EC: Error 11581 - Profile description is Invalid. I am trying to replicate it on my end.

@krobinson were these all from the same email, or did they have multiple sources?

@Cstone, Kristie is on VK, is this the information you are looking for?
CID 27392606 --> FR_email 1_ control active
CID 7809549 --> FR_email 1_ shorter rewrite_ active
CID 16391749 --> FR_email 1_ lapsed

Here are some more of this week's examples:
CID 27111095 --> FR email 2_ CopyJoyoflearning_active
CID 7833909 --> FR email 2_ CopyMostExcitingThing_active
CID 7549551 --> FR_email 2_ CopyShorterRewriteHybrid_ active
CID 43956891 --> FR email 2_ CopyJoyoflearning_active
CID 6597388 --> FR_email 1_ CopyPartofTwoPercent_active (was able to complete a single donation via the second email CopyUnderThreat)

Thanks for the email info!

This happens about ~30 times a day, I'm still looking into what is happening here as donors who ran into this error were successful with a second attempt.

Hi @Cstone will you be able to give us a number of donors affected by this issue? Not sure if we know total affected, and total that managed on a second attempt and those that we lost? Is this still only happening in France? Thanks!

This comment was removed by Cstone.

I dug into the logs more it's happening more than I thought. This happened most on the email send days and then trails off, although not so much on the pretest send day. I am still not sure what is causing this, it does seem to be related to trying to start a recurring but I have not confirmed or been able to replicate it on my end yet.

Here are some numbers:

DateAmount of errors

Apologies this is a long note but I wanted to try to provide as much detail as I could.

To summarize, I was able to recreate an error message when trying to donate monthly via PayPal. I was also able to finally donate successfully donate monthly via PayPal. My CID is 51202551.

The differences I found were that when I tried to donate from the links here monthly via PayPal didn't work for me the several times I tried but the one-time donation from those links did. However, if I tried the geolink for France at monthly via PayPal did work for me THREE different times!

Below is the steps I went through to recreate. I started off trying to follow the steps from one of the donors in the ticket Kristie shared above (ticket #1326556).

  1. I set my NordVPN to France.
  2. I then went to the French version of the WTG page that we provided to the donor >
  3. On the WTG page under the monthly donation section I selected "click here" to take me to the donation form.
  4. I was taken to the following link which showed a currency in USD:
  5. Then I select 2.75 > and PayPal as my payment method.
  6. I successfully logged into PayPal with my personal email/password. It then took me to the PayPal confirmation screen to finalize the payment.
  7. After I finalized the payment at PayPal instead of the thank you page I received the error message shown in the image below. The error message link was >

Screenshot 1 08042023.png (299×1 px, 43 KB)

(Note: I did the above flow multiple times and received errors.)

Next, I tried to recreate what I think the donor (#1326556) explained that they did next.

  1. To try again I clicked on the link from the error page that takes you back to the the WTG page.

Screenshot 2 08042023.png (320×1 px, 44 KB)

  1. I then selected "Faites un don maintenant" from the top right hand side of the page. (Possibly this could be the red donate now box the donor mentioned?)

Screenshot 3 08:04:2023.png (620×1 px, 114 KB)

  1. I was directed to the donation form at the following link:
  2. I selected the amount 2.75 (USD again). I selected ONE TIME DONATION this time, and then went through the PayPal flow.
  3. The ONE-TIME donation successfully processed and I got to the thank you page.

Screenshot 4 08:04:2023.png (816×1 px, 426 KB)

Then, I tried the entire flow again to see if clicking on the "Faites un don maintenant" from the top right hand side of the page and then selecting monthly for the donation would work and got an error again.

  1. I selected "Faites un don maintenant" from the top right hand side of the page.

Screenshot 3 08:04:2023.png (620×1 px, 114 KB)

  1. I was directed to the donation form at the following link:
  2. I selected MONTHLY this time and got the following error message again. Link to error page was

screenshot 5.png (364×1 px, 55 KB)

So using the links on the WTG page I found that I was able to make a one-time donation via PayPal, but every time I tried monthly I got an error page.

For each of the tests noted above I was using my work computer using Google Chrome Version 115.0.5790.114 on a Mac OS Ventura 13.4.1.

I did try to continue testing from my work computer but started running into the error message shown in the image below when I tried to use Paypal so I switched to my personal computer:

screenshot6.png (488×874 px, 35 KB)

From my personal computer (Mac OS Ventura 13.2.1 and Google Chrome Version 115.0.5790.114) I realized that if I used an incognito browser it probably would show Euro so I did another test.

  1. In Incognito browser from the French WTG page I selected "click here" under the monthly donation section.
  2. Now that I was using incognito I was shown EUR instead of USD. I again attempted to donate monthly and followed the PP flow and went all the way through entering my username/password, confirming payment.
  3. Instead of the TY page I again received an error message as shown in the image below. The error message link was:

screenshot 9.png (890×1 px, 146 KB)

While going through the flow this time I did notice...

  1. If you go to (not the French version of the WTG page)
  2. Then select the "click here" under the monthly donation section you are taken to this link:
  3. ^ This link has completely different text to the left of the form and starts with "Thank you for considering a donation to the Wikimedia Foundation" and ends with "Thank you" as shown in the image below

screenshot 7.png (500×1 px, 157 KB)

  1. Compared to the FRENCH version of the donation form where the text starts with "Wikipedia is one of the most visited websites in the world." and is signed "Jimmy Wales" as shown in the image below.

screenshot 8.png (495×1 px, 194 KB)

  1. If you go to you'll see it's not signed "Jimmy Wales"

Finally, to successfully donate via PP monthly

  1. On my personal computer using Google Chrome with my VPN set to France.
  2. Instead of using the link from the France WTG page I went to the GEO link >
  3. From the above link I WAS able to donate monthly via PayPal 3 different times which you can see on my CID 51202551.

Could it be that the links on the WTG page (and possibly the ones we sent out in our email sends?) are performing differently than the geolink ( for FR? I had no issues donating monthly with the geo link but the links on the WTG page only worked to make a one-time donate. Apologies again for this wall of text. :0)

greg triaged this task as Medium priority.Aug 7 2023, 7:58 PM
greg raised the priority of this task from Medium to High.Aug 7 2023, 8:01 PM

Thanks to @AMJohnson for all the digging I was able to replicate this today and we were able to fix it here:

What was happening was when the language was set to French half of the PayPal API call was sending the description in English and the other half in French, which then errored with Error code 11581 returned: 'Profile description is invalid'

Now both parts of the call are sending the same language.

Hi @Cstone thanks for this, could you confirm also here that we are good to go with France banners starting this Thursday with the recurring issue on PayPal fixed?
Please share any details needed.
FYI @AKanji-WMF @spatton

Checking the logs there hasn't been this error since the fix was deployed on 2023-08-07. It looks good from our end.

XenoRyet set Final Story Points to 8.