Paywalls Block Pleasure Reading
April 4, 2016
Have you noticed something new in the past few months on news Web sites? You click on an interesting article and are halfway though reading it when a pop-up banner blocks out the screen. The only way to continue reading is to enter your email, find the elusive X icon, or purchase a subscription. Ghacks.net tells us to expect more of these in, “Read Articles Behind Paywalls By Masquerading As Googlebot.”
Big new sites such as the Financial Times, The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Wall Street Journal are now experimenting with the paywall to work around users’ ad blockers. The downside is that content will be locked up and sites might lose viewers, but that might be a risk they are willing to take to earn a bigger profit.
There used be some tricks to get around paywalls:
“It is no secret that news sites allow access to news aggregators and search engines. If you check Google News or Search for instance, you will find articles from sites with paywalls listed there. In the past, news sites allowed access to visitors coming from major news aggregators such as Reddit, Digg or Slashdot, but that practice seems to be as good as dead nowadays. Another trick, to paste the article title into a search engine to read the cached story on it directly, does not seem to work properly anymore as well as articles on sites with paywalls are not usually cached anymore.”
The best way, the article says, is to make the Web site think you are a Googlebot. Web sites allow Googlebots roam freely to appear higher in search engine results. There are a few ways to trick the Web sites into thinking you are a Googlebot based on your Internet browser, Firefox or Chrome. Check them out, but it will not be long before those become old-fashioned too.