Content blocking websites are garbage and should be flagged. May 14, 2016 11:32 AM   Subscribe

A recent FPP is completely unviewable. I tried - it blocks me from viewing, demanding an email address and agreeing to a complicated TOS just to RTFA. Websites like wapo, wired, telegraph, etc are actually impossible to view for many users, and I am surprised that links to them are allowed in FPPs.

I flagged the post as HTML/Display error, because that is literally what it is. I'm sure this discussion has taken place on the grey before (but searches didn't turn up much), but why are we cool with this? Websites linked in FPPs should be viewable by all. Wapo, Wired, and others that do this should be discouraged from being used - unless they are google-cached or otherwise presented in a manner that doesn't gross up the blue.

It seems like a minor frustration, but this is just like posting SLYT with region restrictions. As discussed here. No one posts links to HULU, and we really shouldn't post links to Wapo, Telegraph, and Wired either (and any other idiotic sites like these).
posted by special agent conrad uno to Etiquette/Policy at 11:32 AM (101 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite

From a policy standpoint, we don't require that links be viewable everywhere, although we encourage people to try to vet their links from a region-accessible standpoint. It's a tricky thing to require, because it's not always possible for the end-user to know what restrictions are on content they themselves can see. (For example, both links in that FPP load just fine for me with no barrier.) Basically, the responses by jessamyn and cortex in the linked 2010 MeTa basically still apply (although we do have overseas mods now, albeit not 24/7.)
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 11:38 AM on May 14, 2016 [2 favorites]


While I'm in agreement with the sentiment it can be really hard as a poster to determine whether a site is accessible or not. EG: the first link in that post presented me with no obstacles wither because I'm in Canada or because of my combination of NoScript/uBlock/Ghostery.

Recent Meta on the topic.
posted by Mitheral at 11:47 AM on May 14, 2016 [4 favorites]


Yeah, WaPo links have become a "don't even bother clicking through" thing for me since they instituted that un-closeable "YOU MUST GIVE US YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS" popover.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 11:49 AM on May 14, 2016


I'd rather that if people are posting these links and are aware of the restrictions they note it in brackets or something so people can decide whether to follow that particular link.
posted by MoonOrb at 12:09 PM on May 14, 2016 [5 favorites]


WaPo solution: don't accept, or periodically clear out, their cookies.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 12:19 PM on May 14, 2016 [2 favorites]


Hm, I'm seeing it in Greece without any pop-up or blocking, though I feel like I've had problems with immediately viewing WaPo links in the past. It *is* often really difficult to tell when sites may be blocking other users, if you are accessing without a problem.
posted by taz (staff) at 12:25 PM on May 14, 2016 [4 favorites]


I guess what I wonder is would you, a person who is unable to read that link, somehow be better off if the FPP containing it were deleted?
posted by aubilenon at 12:39 PM on May 14, 2016 [31 favorites]


I can't access the article. I'm n Denmark and, as far as I know, I've never been to the Washington Post before, or at least not any time remotely recently. FPPs like this are a waste of time as far as I'm concerned and should be strongly discouraged.
posted by shelleycat at 12:45 PM on May 14, 2016


A search on the article title returned a couple of links that might be viewable without the popover. Perhaps we should encourage posters to present alternate links as well as the primary.

Alaska Dispatch News
Durango Herald
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 12:53 PM on May 14, 2016 [1 favorite]


It would be neat if for certain types of content (articles) there was a crew who were willing to submit the URL(s) to an archive service and then post that link in the thread. In addition to helping with the OP's concern, these links would be helpful after the fact, in the sense that viewing what people linked to on MetaFilter even 5 years ago is often impossible. The crew would be more aggressive in providing the archived link quickly when they know that the source web sites are problematic for some.

I would volunteer to do this sometimes except I'm afraid it would be considered a 'shitty comment' to post those archive URLs to the thread without some sort of endorsement from the community that it's a good thing.
posted by sylvanshine at 1:38 PM on May 14, 2016 [3 favorites]


Even on the web browser where I am not signed into my Washington Post account, I have no trouble viewing that article, so it doesn't seem to be universally inaccessible.

Moreover, Metafilter is constantly talking about how media companies (including sometimes Metafilter) have difficulty surviving in the modern financial / advertising climate. If we ban all links to sites that are trying to do something to maintain profitability, we're basically saying that as a community, we're only willing to freeload and not to actually support the sites we visit.

Using ad blockers, refusing to sign up for websites, and other things you can do to keep your information private are valid personal choices. But they're personal choices. Don't expect Metafilter to make them on your behalf.
posted by jacquilynne at 1:42 PM on May 14, 2016 [56 favorites]


Right click - Open Link in New Private Window. (I just used up all my free views of WaPo for this month a few minutes ago. This method works well in many situations.)
posted by maudlin at 1:43 PM on May 14, 2016 [1 favorite]


Yeah, WaPo links have become a “don't even bother clicking through” thing for me since they instituted that un-closeable “YOU MUST GIVE US YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS” popover.

Huh. I’m running Chrome with µBlock Origin and Disconnect. Your mileage may vary, obviously, but I had no idea that they had a popover.
posted by Going To Maine at 1:44 PM on May 14, 2016 [5 favorites]


GUYS. All those of you saying that you can see the link probably can't give credit to ad blockers. The Washington Post (and many other sites) limits you to X articles free per month. Once that's used up, you will probably be blocked in most configurations but you can probably get more with a private browsing session. You don't even have to clear cookies.
posted by maudlin at 1:47 PM on May 14, 2016 [6 favorites]


Cookies are garbage except for sites you have some relationship with. In Firefox I use the "Self-Destructing Cookies" add-on which allows me to whitelist the small number of sites I want to "remember" me. For all others, Firefox says "yeah, go ahead and make that cookie", and then summarily deletes the cookie when the tab is closed. This to me is a beautiful best-of-both worlds practice and should be a default behavior in browsers but what do I know. There are probably numerous similar add-ons. Combined with a third-party request blocker (uBlock or Ghostery or whatever) you Win the Internet. Want to support the Toast? Whitelist the cookie with two clicks, whitelist all requests in uBlock with another two, done. Want everything else to die? Let your add-ons alone. (I'm talkative today and this is about as opinionated as I'm willing to get on Mefi -- "cookies are garbage", two comments in a MeTa thread -- so if I am ignorant of something just lemme be ignorant in peace thx.)
posted by sylvanshine at 1:54 PM on May 14, 2016 [23 favorites]


Want to support the Toast?

Too soon! (Or too late. One of the two.)
posted by asterix at 2:09 PM on May 14, 2016 [9 favorites]


It's a tricky thing to require, because it's not always possible for the end-user to know what restrictions are on content they themselves can see.

Would it be useful to have an additional 'flag' bucket for this sort of thing? - That is, a post can be flagged specifically if the linked content is not accessible for server-side reasons (popovers, signup requests, etc.) at the linked site? I don't necessarily see this as a reason for always deleting posts, but it could help to track particularly problematic links and posts, and it might also generate some useful data at the Metafilter server end.

I think this ties in in some ways with one of the recent discussions on what Metafilter 'is.' For me it's still 'the best of the Web,' although my own personal definition of what the Web is and should be dates from the late 1990s, and does not really account for 2016 revenue generation models on media web sites ...
posted by carter at 2:36 PM on May 14, 2016 [1 favorite]


i have no issues loading any of the links in the fpp. i am opposed to any sort of ban on sites like these. i am also opposed to archive links for post content.
posted by nadawi at 2:41 PM on May 14, 2016 [9 favorites]


Would it be useful to have an additional 'flag' bucket for this sort of thing?

"Inaccessible" or "broken link", maybe? although generally FPPs that link to sites that go dead (or that buckle under the strain) get deleted pretty quickly anyway, presumably as a result of normal flagging.

WaPo solution: don't accept, or periodically clear out, their cookies.

Clearing washingtonpost.com cookies + setting Chrome to block their cookies seemed to do the trick; thanks fffm.

(I do run uBlock Origin. I should maybe look into NoScript/Ghostery etc; does heading down that route involve a lot of whitelist fiddling? I just want the web to work; don't want to spend a lot of time managing it.)
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 2:49 PM on May 14, 2016


"Inaccessible" or "broken link", maybe?

Possibly, although many of these pages become accessible after you have signed up for something ...
posted by carter at 2:54 PM on May 14, 2016


(I do run uBlock Origin. I should maybe look into NoScript/Ghostery etc; does heading down that route involve a lot of whitelist fiddling? I just want the web to work; don't want to spend a lot of time managing it.)

Use Disconnect - it’s pretty much painless. Occasionally something breaks, and you can choose the site to let through.

NoScript, while very thorough, will drag you into the hole of whitelisting things one at a time. It’s the sort of terrible place that you can convince yourself is fine but is actually awful.

Ghostery is about as painless, but sort of got in hot water for feeding data back to advertisers at one point.
posted by Going To Maine at 2:54 PM on May 14, 2016 [2 favorites]


NoScript is worth trying. WaPo articles load fine as long as you don't whitelist it. In my experience, whitelisting broken sites takes so little time that, on balance, NoScript improves the web for me. Javascript-enforced paywalls just stop existing.

If they want it paywalled, they can put it behind a login. Pretending to serve the article and then hiding it before I can read it? That's just not cool.

To archive an arbitrary page, put "archive.is/" in front of the URL. If someone's already archived it, it will be listed; if they haven't, it will ask if you want to archive it. The WaPo article in question, for instance. Maybe people who make posts could include these as alternative links?

(Metafilter could conceivably do this for us, but that's a bit of a huge pony request)
posted by BungaDunga at 3:36 PM on May 14, 2016 [5 favorites]


Also, another endorsement for Self-Destructing Cookies, but add to that BetterPrivacy, which nukes flash-based supercookies that SDC doesn't seem to catch.
posted by BungaDunga at 3:38 PM on May 14, 2016 [1 favorite]


There's little to no way to be aware of whether something that's loading fine for you isn't going to load for other people without an unreasonable amount of leg work. And here's the thing, if the article doesn't load for you there's no difference between the post not existing and your present situation. This isn't even a flag it and move on situation. This is just a move on situation.
posted by stoneweaver at 5:08 PM on May 14, 2016 [13 favorites]


I'd say it's worth at least mentioning it in the thread; people who are able to access the article can google for a text fragment and see if it's posted in other places, even under a different title.
posted by XMLicious at 6:10 PM on May 14, 2016


Could there be a collaboration with jessamyn's project and have links have an automatic alternate pointed to the version in the internet archive?
posted by sammyo at 6:17 PM on May 14, 2016 [1 favorite]


Cookies are garbage except for sites you have some relationship with. In Firefox I use the "Self-Destructing Cookies" add-on which allows me to whitelist the small number of sites I want to "remember" me. For all others, Firefox says "yeah, go ahead and make that cookie", and then summarily deletes the cookie when the tab is closed

Thank you, this is the extension I've been missing all my life. It complements uBlock Origin (loaded to the gills and with third party frames globally disabled) nicely. It makes the average contemporary website almost usable, without the aggressively terrible experience of AdBlock + Ghostery + NoScript, which is in its way, actually worse than a bunch of trackers and ads.
posted by cj_ at 8:57 PM on May 14, 2016


I don't use ad blocking stuff so I won't have any way of knowing if other folks have problems with something I post a link to. So I say thanks but no thanks.
posted by Bella Donna at 9:14 PM on May 14, 2016


I understand that it's difficult to vet every link, but I think there are a few well known offenders. Wired, Wapo, and Telegraph in particular.

I made this post to highlight the fact that - kind of like an FPP with a link to Hulu - an FPP with a link to one of those three is going to be impossible for many to read. This should be a known thing. I apologize if my post was a little to grar-y, but I'd like to raise this awareness.
posted by special agent conrad uno at 10:47 PM on May 14, 2016


Why isn't the right answer that volunteers link to an archive copy whenever there's a link like this?

Obviously, the mods can't do that. They probably can't even endorse that solution. But we are perfectly capable of organizing and acting without the mods' hand-holding.
posted by anotherpanacea at 2:41 AM on May 15, 2016 [3 favorites]


Could there be a collaboration with jessamyn's project
if i search for "jessamyn" on this page, i find nothing useful. what project is this?

edit: i add youtube equivalents for vimeo (which is not good at streaming to chile, at least) when i see them. i don't see why people cannot add alternates, as anotherpanacea is suggesting.
posted by andrewcooke at 4:15 AM on May 15, 2016


i add youtube equivalents for vimeo

I for one appreciate this (not sure if it's a Flash vs. HTML5 issue on my old, slow computer). I also appreciate when people post alternate methods of viewing non-video content in a thread. This is my way of saying thanks to people who have done so in the past, and my vote for members to continue doing so in the future (hopefully it's not verboten).
posted by cynical pinnacle at 4:59 AM on May 15, 2016 [2 favorites]


Absolutely not verboten. I often do this myself in a comment when I see that someone can't view something.
posted by taz (staff) at 5:06 AM on May 15, 2016 [1 favorite]


Would the mods be willing to go so far as to say that members are encouraged to post alternate-source links and/or archival links in the comments, when they suspect that other users might benefit from them? Provided of course that they do so in a non-grumpy way so as to avoid shitting up the thread?
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 5:14 AM on May 15, 2016


You didn't search too hard. I posted about this in Meta like a month ago.

I agree that user hostile sites suck and we shouldn't be giving them traffic.
posted by leotrotsky at 5:32 AM on May 15, 2016


I'd rather that if people are posting these links and are aware of the restrictions they note it in brackets or something so people can decide whether to follow that particular link.

I've made a habit of doing this with all my posts. Mostly because I tend to link to sites like The New Yorker or The New York Times on a fairly frequent basis and even though I'm a subscriber, I realize that not everyone else is and so a paywall may be a concern. Also, it just feels polite. Some people dislike particular websites for political/social/aesthetic reasons and at least this way, they can just opt out of those FPPs all together. Cheers.
posted by Fizz at 5:50 AM on May 15, 2016 [1 favorite]


I don't see why the mods need to have an opinion either way on posting alternative links? As long as you're not breaking the guidelines - which this clearly isn't - then you can post whatever you want without the mods holding your hand or giving a thumbs up or whatever.

I hate these kinds of links because it's another reminder that I'm a second class citizen, sorry this post is not for you dear run along now. Geo blocking is worse on the exclusion front (at least then I'm being clearly told that I'm unimportant because of where I live), but also often easier to get around in a kind of annoying twist. I also dislike these posts because I see no reason why metafilter should be enabling the hostile business practices of other companies. It's not a secret that these sites do it, the information is widely known by now, so anyone linking to them should be clear as to why the link is important enough to be posted here despite the shitty access problems that comes with it.

But I hate it even more when those in the privileged position of not being shut out and excluded for what ever reason come here posting about how it's no big deal and the rest of us should just stop complaining and leave them to enjoy their privilege. Which is as inevitable as it is rude so I guess I should stop being surprised by now.
posted by shelleycat at 5:53 AM on May 15, 2016 [3 favorites]


I understand that it's difficult to vet every link, but I think there are a few well known offenders. Wired, Wapo, and Telegraph in particular.

I am not trying to be oppositional here, but these "well known" offenders are not known as offensive to me at all. I just looked at an article from the Telegraph, an article from the Washington Post, and an article from Wired. I encountered no problems reading any of those articles and in fact am still not clear on what behaviour it is that you are objecting to.

For the sake of science, I am using Chrome; I am registered at none of those sites; I was not using an Incognito window; I run no ad blocking add-ons; I run no cookie management add-ons; I run no privacy add-ons.
posted by DarlingBri at 5:59 AM on May 15, 2016 [10 favorites]


Has the link been changed? I just viewed it by clicking it using Firefox on OS X with no plugins. It did trigger the Flash warning.
posted by mzurer at 6:54 AM on May 15, 2016


(I also just checked the WP link from the FPP and again, I... get a web page.)
posted by DarlingBri at 7:17 AM on May 15, 2016


This FAQ entry On video workarounds is the "Jessamyn project." I think what is needed is a couple of non-mod-approved ways of doing this for articles. Like: not a FAQ entry, but just something folks do habitually.

When there's a paywalled article making the rounds on Favebook that my colleagues want to share, I know some people will use Evernote to produce a pdf version and then share that via a Dropbox link. Perhaps there's some other way to accomplish that?

This seems like a good place to brainstorm. This really ought not to be an impediment.
posted by anotherpanacea at 7:17 AM on May 15, 2016 [1 favorite]


I understand that it's difficult to vet every link, but I think there are a few well known offenders. Wired, Wapo, and Telegraph in particular.

I try to be mindful of content that could get people in work trouble so I do label things NSFW, wikileaks, auto-playing audio, etc. but I don't care for this pony. You can hover/right click/tap & hold over links before you click to see where they go, and as others have mentioned, there are workarounds. There are simply too many variables on both the server side and the client side to have a set of rules that apply in any consistent manner.

I hate these kinds of links because it's another reminder that I'm a second class citizen, sorry this post is not for you dear run along now. .

Who are the first class citizens? Even if there is no geographical barrier I think most people could easily end up hitting article limits at most of the problem sites mentioned. There are many posts which link to sites with Flash that don't work on iOS devices. Sometimes I'm presented with a totally blank screen. I don't take it personally.

jacquilynne: Moreover, Metafilter is constantly talking about how media companies (including sometimes Metafilter) have difficulty surviving in the modern financial / advertising climate. If we ban all links to sites that are trying to do something to maintain profitability, we're basically saying that as a community, we're only willing to freeload and not to actually support the sites we visit.

I think this would be a good MeTa to chew on, especially in light of The Toast news. Not so much to decide on an official MetaFilter policy, but I think it's something lots of us think about.
posted by Room 641-A at 7:22 AM on May 15, 2016 [7 favorites]


So, we're not going to ban the Washington Post. All future Pentagon Papers will be posted here.

Let's instead work on laying out a strategy by which folks can easily help their fellow-users get around these inconvenient blockages.

Does anyone know a good browser extension for this? Is Evernote really the premiere article rip-and-share add-on?
posted by anotherpanacea at 7:51 AM on May 15, 2016 [1 favorite]


But I hate it even more when those in the privileged position of not being shut out and excluded for what ever reason come here posting about how it's no big deal and the rest of us should just stop complaining and leave them to enjoy their privilege. Which is as inevitable as it is rude so I guess I should stop being surprised by now.

What I see are some people saying - a post not everyone can see is better than no post at all. Plus I see a lot of people suggesting workarounds to one another for the purpose of opening the web up. There's a lot more here than privileged people waving off those who can't see content.
posted by scrittore at 8:16 AM on May 15, 2016 [11 favorites]


jacquilynne: Moreover, Metafilter is constantly talking about how media companies (including sometimes Metafilter) have difficulty surviving in the modern financial / advertising climate. If we ban all links to sites that are trying to do something to maintain profitability, we're basically saying that as a community, we're only willing to freeload and not to actually support the sites we visit.

Or that the media companies in question need to come up with alternative approaches. It is not our job to do their job for them.
posted by Celsius1414 at 8:50 AM on May 15, 2016 [2 favorites]


I'm sorry that you don't want to pay for content, but I don't see why your choice should limit the stuff I see. Pay for it or browse from your local library. Sheesh.
posted by eamondaly at 9:54 AM on May 15, 2016 [10 favorites]


Not every link is for every person for a lot of diverse reasons. Some people hate single link mystery meat posts. Some hate epic three paragraph posts. Some hate links to any news article ever, regardless of whether there's content-protection, because "news" is not "best of the web". Some people don't like some topics, or some sources, or some bands or some filmmakers.

Not every link is viewable by every person. Whether that's because you can't see optical illusions, or because flashing lights trigger seizures or migraines or motion sickness in you. Or because you have your computer configured so that content won't play. Or perhaps it's a video with no transcript or subtitle and you don't hear or you don't speak the language the video is presented in.

I agree in the abstract there is some level of "appropriate for Metafilter" which must be met before something is posted to the front page. But other than the official rules (not a double, not a self-post, not a press release or open petition/kickstarter, not an intent to troll), I have yet to hear a proposal of "these links are not appropriate for Metafilter" that does not come down to "this type of post annoys me for some varying value of legitimate complaint". And that's just not a good enough reason to ban those type of links, especially in this case where there's very little possibility that the poster can know to any degree of certainty how many people will have technical difficulty opening the link.

(For instance, I had no technical trouble with that WaPo link in question but no interest in it. On the other hand, all the Chicago Tribune & Sun Times links in my professional twitter feed are 100% inaccessible to me, no matter what I try)
posted by crush-onastick at 10:40 AM on May 15, 2016 [7 favorites]


I can open the links in the FPP no problem, but often links to YouTube videos won't play for me in the UK. It's a pain in the arse when it's something I'm interested in, but I just accept it as one of those things that happens when we're sharing links - not everything will work for everyone. I'm not asking for a ban on YouTube videos just because I can't watch some of them. I get your frustration but c'est la vie.
posted by billiebee at 10:53 AM on May 15, 2016 [5 favorites]


I'm sorry that you don't want to pay for content, but I don't see why your choice should limit the stuff I see. Pay for it or browse from your local library. Sheesh.

I pay for content all the time, both online and offline, if I find it worthwhile. If your choices haven't found the right financial model, that's not my fault and I'm not going to expose my computer to malware to make it happen for you.
posted by Celsius1414 at 1:10 PM on May 15, 2016 [2 favorites]


Just to add another data point - Wired, Telegraph, the specific Washington Post article, all open fine for me. Your model for well-known offenders may be idiosyncratic.

Also, besides a mild discouragement of region-blocked videos, the current requirement for FPPs seems to be nothing subscription-based or proper paywalled but otherwise post away.

This isn't about privilege. It's about computer settings. Let's not be nuts about this.
posted by gadge emeritus at 1:23 PM on May 15, 2016 [13 favorites]


And another person adding that both links in the FPP opened fine for me in the US, both on desktop (Mac, Safari running AdBlocker and Ghostery) and on mobile (Chrome for Android with no extensions/add-ons).

I'm entirely on-board with OPs warning of possible issues, and/or commenters or even mods suggesting work-arounds, but the issue with this particular FPP is not nearly universal enough to use as a starting point for a list of "NO POSTING" sites.
posted by soundguy99 at 1:37 PM on May 15, 2016 [1 favorite]


Like I'm not going to take up brainspace with a list of websites other people find annoying. I'm just not. I don't think it's reasonable to request that I do this unpaid work. It's completely reasonable to post alternate links in the thread for sites you find annoying. That is completely 100% reasonable and awsome.
posted by stoneweaver at 2:01 PM on May 15, 2016 [15 favorites]


Which streaming service(s) can I use to watch The Jessamyn Project? That show sounds awesome.
posted by deludingmyself at 3:03 PM on May 15, 2016 [1 favorite]

"I'm sorry that you don't want to pay for content, but I don't see why your choice should limit the stuff I see."
Who's limiting the stuff you see? If you subscribe everywhere, or are happy giving away an email address and/or accepting a million cookies, then nothing anyone has proposed will stop you from seeing anything.

You just might not see it here
posted by Pinback at 4:00 PM on May 15, 2016 [1 favorite]


Which streaming service(s) can I use to watch The Jessamyn Project?

Snapchat! Prepare to be underwhelmed!
posted by jessamyn (retired) at 5:55 PM on May 15, 2016 [6 favorites]


Life sucks, then you die. Never linking to the Washington Post seems a bit extreme.
posted by Ideefixe at 6:29 PM on May 15, 2016 [2 favorites]


I must admit that I use minimal content blocking (except for Chrome's native popup blocker), and I regularly flush out my cookies. I never have any problem viewing content on any website, really. Is this exercising my privilege? Is there something I should be doing to have a crappier experience on the web?
posted by My Dad at 7:19 PM on May 15, 2016 [2 favorites]


I encountered no problems reading any of those articles and in fact am still not clear on what behaviour it is that you are objecting to.

Once you've read more than a handful of articles on some sites, the paywall appears and won't let you read any more. It's enforced by Javascript, which makes it particularly frustrating, because the content has already been served to your browser, it just has specific code that hides it from you immediately afterwards. Wired is particularly egregious: there's no paywall unless you're running an adblocker.

If you're not a habitual reader of a particular site, you'll never see the block. So it's easy to post an article without realizing that there even is a paywall! Similarly for region-blocked videos, mind you- I can't know if a particular video is blocked in the UK or Germany if I'm sitting here in the US short of firing up a VPN and testing manually.

There isn't a general solution to this problem other than perhaps a piece of code on Metafilter that checks links against a list of known paywalled sites, and warn the FPPer that maybe a significant proportion of people won't be able to view that particular link- not as a requirement, mind you, but as a suggestion.
posted by BungaDunga at 7:43 PM on May 15, 2016 [1 favorite]


In that case, the content's hidden from you (editorial you) because you decided you don't want to pay what the provider is charging for the content. Which is absolutely your choice (and it's a choice I make a lot), but that's your own choice, in the same way that you can't just demand a coffee at Starbucks but say you won't pay for it. That doesn't mean Starbucks is "garbage," and while there's an argument to be made that their coffee is bad and overpriced, that doesn't entitle everyone to free Starbucks coffee.
posted by lazuli at 8:05 PM on May 15, 2016 [8 favorites]


... or to demanding that no one else ever mention Starbucks.
posted by lazuli at 8:07 PM on May 15, 2016 [2 favorites]


Opening the link in incognito mode doesn't work?
posted by Jacqueline at 8:08 PM on May 15, 2016


Opening the link in incognito mode doesn't work?

Depends on the site. Many lightly-protected sites that serve X stories per month before locking up can be accessed indefinitely using incognito mode (Wired, Washington Post, many others). Other sites that are dead fucking serious about protecting their content (such as The Times) really, really lock things down. You don't know until you try.
posted by maudlin at 8:13 PM on May 15, 2016




If you're not a habitual reader of a particular site, you'll never see the block

This is flat out wrong. For example, I have 100% for sure never been to the Washington Post on my tablet because it's quite new, yet I'm blocked anyway.
posted by shelleycat at 10:18 PM on May 15, 2016


Or that the media companies in question need to come up with alternative approaches. It is not our job to do their job for them.

Favouriting 1000 x. This ad thing is not working, it's now absurd, and clearly counterproductive. And apparently actively malicious. Chasing (probably) accidental clicks for (vanishing) ghost money is not working, it is done. Anyway, the problem's already been solved on the blue (bundled subscriptions and/or guaranteed minimum income, settled).
posted by cotton dress sock at 10:43 PM on May 15, 2016


Chasing (probably) accidental clicks for (vanishing) ghost money is not working, it is done.

The irony of this proclamation being made on this site is rich indeed.
posted by DarlingBri at 11:06 PM on May 15, 2016 [2 favorites]


And here's the thing, if the article doesn't load for you there's no difference between the post not existing and your present situation.

I don't really have a dog in this race, but this statement is not actually true. Say five of these posts come about on the same day, and maybe two or three of them turn into huge mega thread discussions - now there's suddenly a lot less activity on threads related to shit you can see.
posted by Dysk at 12:22 AM on May 16, 2016


Er. I obviously wasn't talking about this place :/ sorry It's just bonkers - half these sites are simply unreadable, whether it's because of a blocker, or the (device- and bandwidth-burning) clutter. I mean I don't think anyone's quite figured it out. (But I think someone could)
posted by cotton dress sock at 12:39 AM on May 16, 2016 [1 favorite]


Canada, Firefox, Adblock Plus, no WaPo subscription - can read the link just fine.
posted by dazed_one at 5:36 AM on May 16, 2016


Er. I obviously wasn't talking about this place :/ sorry It's just bonkers - half these sites are simply unreadable, whether it's because of a blocker, or the (device- and bandwidth-burning) clutter. I mean I don't think anyone's quite figured it out. (But I think someone could)

I don't have a problem with regionally-limited content, though obviously it is a bit irritating to run into. I don't know of an easy way to test for it, if I was putting together FPP links, actually, though there must be best practices available somewhere.

But I just got back onto a faster internet connection after more than a year of dealing with very slow and intermittent service, and in that time there was a lot of content posted here that simply didn't work. Streaming video was very chancy, and plenty of straightforward text sites would fail for me because of bandwidth-intensive clutter. (The big megathreads here were often unworkable, too.)
posted by Dip Flash at 5:47 AM on May 16, 2016


This isn't about privilege. It's about computer settings. Let's not be nuts about this.

I think this is a bit oversimplified. There definitely is a continuum of who gets access to what here, and it is based on geography, social factors and employment. There's stuff that's clearly off limits: academic papers behind paywalls. It's not reasonable to ask the general mefi readership to cough up $55 to read an article, for example given even that some non-negligible fraction of readers could see it for "free" through their institutional affiliations.

There's stuff that should be allowable, but accessible with alternative methods, like anonymous browsing. Then there's stuff that is geo-locked, which posed more problems---this is a pretty tiresome fuck-you to many people. It generally needs less legal solutions.

Finally, there's stuff that is data-heavy. Only those with access to high-rate data streams and caps are able enough to enjoy those. Fortunately this socio-economic barrier is getting lower all the time, but there are still many folks who are affected by it.

Many posters already put up warnings on their links. That's why a video or even a pdf warning is helpful to a lot of readers, and why it's useful to continue to do so in my view. Similarly, warnings about pay sites also help.

Geo-locking is nearly impossible to figure out by a poster, so, in that case, patience should be extended to comments about being locked out of the content and alternate links to it. Letting participants figure that out should be given space. Complaints about that process, however, should be removed as noise, in my view. That's the only thing that really needs to change.
posted by bonehead at 10:19 AM on May 16, 2016 [2 favorites]


Here's all the ways that I think you can successfully load an article from the Washington Post:

On a computer: Load article 1-5 for the calendar month in your browser of choice. If you try to load article 6, you get blocked unless you deal with cookies in some way (switch to a second browser until you use up 5 articles there; clear cookies manually; never accept cookies with browser settings or plug-ins; browse incognito/in a private window). Each time you get blocked, you will be given the option to subscribe.

On a tablet (at least, on my iPad): Using Safari, you can't see any story unless you provide an email address. It doesn't have to be a real one. Once provided, you will get the same 5 article limit per month. After clearing my history and website data (cookies), I'm allowed another 5 articles without the popup asking for an email address.

On a phone (at least, on my iPhone with 1Blocker): Acts pretty much like the computer when I use Safari. I don't get the popup that asks for my email address that appears on my tablet.

So if you think that you're getting in because of an ad blocker: no. You haven't hit your limit or you have set up your browsing to block cookies. If you're required to submit an email address before you can see even a single article, that's just because this stupid barrier has been added for tablet users. Once you provide an address (real or fake) on a tablet, the same 5 article quota applies. Sites like the WaPo control access with cookies. Cookies all the way down.

Coming back to the focus of this post: locked down sources, like The Times or Wall Street Journal or academic journals are going to be a bad choice for FPPs because most of us won't have access. Geoblocked stuff is a nuisance, so keep in mind that any video source may be unavailable for many of us. Be prepared to offer an alternative or a sincere apology for those of us without VPNs or magical powers.

It's the lightly locked stuff that can be easily gotten around with cookie management of some sort that can cause confusion. A bunch of us have described exactly how to get around it in this thread, so if the original poster is unaware or didn't include a warning, whoever knows this stuff should probably just add a helpful comment early in the thread.
posted by maudlin at 10:32 AM on May 16, 2016 [5 favorites]


pretty tiresome fuck-you

To be clear, from the rights-owning 1% to the rest of the peons who just live here, you know. I'm not suggesting this insult has anything to do with this site, or someone who simply wants to post a Neat Thing.
posted by bonehead at 10:35 AM on May 16, 2016 [1 favorite]


I guess what I wonder is would you, a person who is unable to read that link, somehow be better off if the FPP containing it were deleted?

Amen. Not all posts are For You. Either because they're about a group you're not a part of, a subject you can't comment on intelligently, or because you just can't view the link. Oh well. Your life is no poorer than if that post had never existed at all.

I agree that user hostile sites suck and we shouldn't be giving them traffic.

I agree, with the caveat that each subgroup of 'we' should make our own decisions and not click through or not make FPPs that point to sites we think suck.

And I don't think No one posts links to HULU
posted by phearlez at 12:10 PM on May 16, 2016 [2 favorites]


Being shut out and excluded does make my life poorer, even if just a little bit at a time. And I'm pretty sick of being told otherwise.
posted by shelleycat at 12:16 PM on May 16, 2016 [2 favorites]


I guess what I wonder is would you, a person who is unable to read that link, somehow be better off if the FPP containing it were deleted?

I think that's a fair question, tho. If non-accessible links make—as you've insisted they do—your life poorer, then I think it's fair to ask if you think your life would be richer if those links were not available at all.

Personally, I think that A) less than ideal, tho it may be, balkanization is the nature of today's internet—everyone of us encounters some kind of content that we may wish to access and can't (or can't conveniently)* and B) that it's a tolerable nuisance, especially in a forum largely intended to entertain. By all means ask people to describe the content they deliver; but ask people to insure that all content is always accessible to you and I think you should tell people how you want them to do that.

*There is so much BBC content that I would enjoy if I could.
posted by octobersurprise at 1:34 PM on May 16, 2016 [3 favorites]


While we're at it, can we put a moratorium on FPPs that feature Etsy links? Unless you have an Etsy account, you can't view the linked material. As you scroll down, Etsy scrolls-up a big "Sign in or join" page blocker.
posted by Thorzdad at 2:21 PM on May 16, 2016 [1 favorite]


Being shut out and excluded does make my life poorer,

But nobody here is shutting you out of anything. Your gripe is with WaPo/Wired/whoever and their dopey limits. The only thing happening here when these links are posted is that some other mefites are saying "hey, this is interesting." They're not excluding you any more than someone who says nice things about a restaurant in a town where you don't live or talking about their new car you can't afford.

But I hate it even more when those in the privileged position of not being shut out and excluded for what ever reason come here posting about how it's no big deal and the rest of us should just stop complaining and leave them to enjoy their privilege

That's a mischaracterization of what's happening here. You're welcome to complain till armageddon as far as I am concerned. What's annoying about these posts isn't the complaining, it's the demand that everyone else be prevented from sharing these posts because some folks have an issue seeing the links.

I'm sorry it's a big deal to you to be unable to see WaPo links. It is completely out of our control, though many people have chimed in here and in past threads with suggestions about workarounds that might work. Nobody wants to exclude any other mefite from seeing FPP links.
posted by phearlez at 2:34 PM on May 16, 2016 [6 favorites]


While we're at it, can we put a moratorium on FPPs that feature Etsy links? Unless you have an Etsy account, you can't view the linked material. As you scroll down, Etsy scrolls-up a big "Sign in or join" page blocker.

Really? That surprises me. They definitely didn't do that before -- I wonder if they're taking a lead from all those discount shopping sites that you can't browse without logging in? It's a pretty regrettable choice for a site that's all about item-discovery if they are.
posted by jacquilynne at 3:04 PM on May 16, 2016


Yeah, jacquilynne, that surprised me, too, the first couple of times I followed an Etsy link from an FPP.
posted by Thorzdad at 3:09 PM on May 16, 2016 [1 favorite]


That's not happening for me on Etsy (not signed in). Are you sure you're not thinking of Pinterest?
posted by lazuli at 5:20 PM on May 16, 2016 [3 favorites]


That's a behavior I associate with Pinterest, too; seems like they just went full-on quora a while back in that sense. I hadn't noticed any such behavior form Etsy, but I don't end up there too often; I will say it sounds like something that would get them Ides of Marched by their collective store owners given that the whole business model is getting people to show up and buy stuff.
posted by cortex (staff) at 6:45 PM on May 16, 2016


Yeah, the Pinterest thing is weird. I've never cared enough to look until following links recently, and now I can't see anything there. But they'd really like me to join! Join what I'm not sure.
posted by bongo_x at 7:23 PM on May 16, 2016 [1 favorite]


This rarely bothers me since I installed the self-destructing cookies extension in Firefox. It lets me whitelist the sites that I want to be signed into (like Metafilter) but automatically explodes those that want to limit my access to a certain number of visits.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 3:56 AM on May 17, 2016


Yeah, my bad. It's Pinterest, not Etsy. Sorry folks. I get my Social-Media-All-The-Cool-Kids-Use stuff confused. I'll go scourge myself now...
posted by Thorzdad at 4:50 AM on May 17, 2016 [1 favorite]


shelleycat: I'm also in Denmark, and a Chrome incognito window works just fine for me.

FWIW, I tried to go to the FPP's link yesterday (in the UK, yay Heathrow) and it didn't work; I didn't think to try incognito so I just closed the post and moved on.

For everyone not shelleycat, yeah, I do think there is a bit of an issue here. When it's one or two links that don't work, I just move on. But if/when it gets to be a significant portion of links that are blocked, that becomes an issue. (And yes, moving to Denmark definitely increased the number of links I can't go to, maybe because most links are posted by people in the US who can't easily check behavior in other countries).
posted by nat at 11:37 AM on May 17, 2016


We should also ban Fanfare posts about Game of Thrones because when I go to HBO it demands a login. Those bastards.
posted by General Malaise at 1:30 PM on May 17, 2016 [3 favorites]


I'll settle for less prudish fingerwagging over copyrights whenever extra-legal methods are discussed to get around market-failure disaster areas like HBO.
posted by bonehead at 4:20 PM on May 17, 2016


"Prudish"? Wow. I think that's an issue you're working out.
posted by bongo_x at 6:32 PM on May 17, 2016 [5 favorites]


I'm all for people linking whatever got them excited enough to post.
posted by michaelh at 7:05 PM on May 17, 2016 [2 favorites]


it's not always possible for the end-user to know what restrictions are on content they themselves can see.

Did you know that if you post your password on Metafilter, it shows up for you but everybody else just sees black dots?

Mine is ••••••••••••
posted by flabdablet at 9:48 PM on May 17, 2016 [1 favorite]


hunter2
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 9:54 PM on May 17, 2016


•••••••
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 21:54 on May 17 [+] [!]


It works!
posted by flabdablet at 9:56 PM on May 17, 2016 [6 favorites]


Cool. Thanks for another awesome pony, pb!
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 10:21 PM on May 17, 2016 [1 favorite]


I approve of devolving to old IRC gags
posted by phearlez at 7:30 AM on May 18, 2016 [2 favorites]


Coming to this a little late, there may be a case with some FPPs of having multiple, different, links around the same item. This works easiest, of course, for newsy items as you can often quickly find similars using news.google.com. Multiple links about the same thing means, as well as being current-proofed against some readers being shut out, the post becomes more future-proofed against a link failing. Multiples sources can give different perspectives too. A couple of examples I've done on (randomly picks) cheese and dildos, both of which should still work at least partially multiple years in the future, being useful to future readers and historians.
posted by Wordshore at 9:27 AM on May 18, 2016 [2 favorites]



When there's a paywalled article making the rounds on Favebook that my colleagues want to share, I know some people will use Evernote to produce a pdf version and then share that via a Dropbox link. Perhaps there's some other way to accomplish that?


Saving the article to Instapaper and sharing the Instapaper link works too. (Or so I've heard. ; ) )
posted by SisterHavana at 4:27 PM on May 18, 2016


Something confused me about the Evernote comment and it applies here, too. I understand how it works (or the steps that make it work, at least) but I don't understand where in the workflow this would be. If someone wants to add Evernote or InstaPaper links in the comments that's great, but if there is an expectation that people would download software on their device(s) and then produce those links I think that's in the "I'm not getting paid enough" category.
posted by Room 641-A at 7:07 PM on May 18, 2016



Not being all cagey and mystery meaty with the post helps a lot too. If a link goes bad but the post explains what the link is about then someone who is really interested can attempt to search for the topic.
posted by Mitheral at 12:40 AM on May 19, 2016 [3 favorites]


Something confused me about the Evernote comment and it applies here, too. I understand how it works (or the steps that make it work, at least) but I don't understand where in the workflow this would be.

I myself don't fully understand that workflow, which is why I asked. As an example, I'd normally take something from the Chronicle or the New York Review of Books and use the Clearly extension on my browser to get a "simplified" unpaginated copy. Then I'd print directly to pdf in the extension.

That worked well when Evernote were still supporting Clearly. It seems to work less well with the new Web Clipper extension; I don't get a shareable pdf, instead I get an Evernote note.

Instapaper doesn't seem to create something I can share, either.

So I think I'm still looking for the right rip-and-share solution for geolocked or paywalled stuff, something we can put in the FAQ or the wiki.

Some background: when I do this with colleagues, we don't think of this as stealing, really, since we all have institutional subscriptions. We're just trying to make the thing legible from social media shares for when we're not on campus. The model is the one we use for journal article e-offprints, where it's presumed that anyone who gives a shit about the context probably has library access.

That said, the comments about The Toast really worry me. With web ad traffic declining, I do kind of think we have a responsibility to craft a response that's ethical and allows writers to get paid.
posted by anotherpanacea at 7:55 AM on May 19, 2016


I'm just noticing that links to mobile.nytimes.com allow me to read the article in a heavily-armored browser with non-VPN privacy measures maxed out, whereas if I change the same URI's domain to www.nytimes.com I get the standard behavior in which it bounces me to a login page unless I enable cookies. I don't know how long that's worked, but if it's stable behavior and it works for other people maybe it would be worth rewriting links?
posted by XMLicious at 1:53 PM on May 21, 2016


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