We should stop linking to the NY Times November 5, 2019 7:04 AM   Subscribe

The history of the NY Times paywall has been one of cat and mouse games, but at present the site is so aggressively paywalled as to be functionally unreachable for many. Continuing to link to it as a primary source in a post seems contrary to community standards.

Note: if your instinct is to respond with "did you try [X]?" -- in all likelihood, yes. In the past year the Times has significantly ramped up their methods. For the technical minded: at this point, near as I can tell, they're going so far as to load the full article and then delete most of it from the DOM via JS after showing it to you momentarily, so even if you had a plugin or just straight up used dev tools to remove the paywall itself, the content isn't even there anymore.
posted by tocts to Etiquette/Policy at 7:04 AM (107 comments total) 25 users marked this as a favorite

Yeah, I agree that a single NYT link as a post is a big problem these days. I think it would be reasonable to ask people to repost with supporting links that provide the basic info so everyone can participate in the conversation.
posted by taz (staff) at 7:11 AM on November 5 [20 favorites]


I think we should stop linking to them because they are white supremacist sympathizers, but hey, whatever works!
posted by agregoli at 7:15 AM on November 5 [59 favorites]


I used to link to their site quite a bit but I've cut back, so I'm glad to see this being discussed here. I still do occasionally but I've mostly stopped clicking through to their site.

I think there's also a strong argument to be made to avoid The New York Times because of their editorial decisions as of late. I used to be a subscriber, but cancelled last year because there were a few too many sympathetic "both sides"-ism kind of op-ed pieces.
posted by Fizz at 7:16 AM on November 5 [7 favorites]


agregoli beat me to it and said it much better than I did.
posted by Fizz at 7:16 AM on November 5 [1 favorite]


On usability grounds alone I agree. The editorial question is also valid, though I suspect it's not a criterion we would apply evenly or reliably to other sites with questionable, poor, or downright immoral editorial standards.
posted by sugar and confetti at 7:26 AM on November 5 [5 favorites]


I think it is. Do we allow links to Daily Stormer? Breitbart? Fox News? I'd be surprised if those wouldn't be flagged to oblivion.
posted by agregoli at 7:32 AM on November 5 [6 favorites]


they're going so far as to load the full article and then delete most of it from the DOM via JS after showing it to you momentarily, so even if you had a plugin or just straight up used dev tools to remove the paywall itself, the content isn't even there anymore.

Is this what the Washington Post is doing?
posted by Mitheral at 7:34 AM on November 5


Do we allow links to Daily Stormer? Breitbart? Fox News?
I suspect that most Mefites and the people they talk to read NYT content from time to time or even on the regular. I suspect they are basically unfamiliar with the outlets you mention.

Not to say the NYT is politically unproblematic, but it does set the conversation in educated liberal circles and thus, IMHO, can‘t just be ignored like a fascist propaganda rag.
posted by The Toad at 7:46 AM on November 5 [21 favorites]


> Mitheral: Is this what the Washington Post is doing?

Yeah, I was going to suggest we add the WaPo and the Wall Street Journal to whatever messaging/decisions come of this, and it probably could stand to be a larger discussion about paywalled content in general.
posted by Rock Steady at 7:51 AM on November 5 [5 favorites]


I hate what the NYT has become editorial-wise, and I dislike paywalls. At the same time, there are instances where (a) only NYT has the story, and (b) the topic is worth discussing. The Scorsese Marvel interview seems to fall into that category. Sure, people could link to another site that's discussing the interview with a few pull-quotes, or some reactions to it, but ultimately the content we're interested in is the NYT story, and only they have the full interview.

The question becomes: does the community benefit from a discussion where only some of the readers are able to view the full story, or is it better to not have that story at all. (A middle ground might be allowing a link to the NYT with a paywall warning, but also requiring some links to some third-party sites covering it.) I had read a few articles about it in my RSS reader earlier, so I knew the general gist of what Scorsese was saying, but I'm also very glad to be able to get the MeFi community's reaction to it, and wouldn't want to lose that because people are discouraged from posting stories that originate from the NYT's coverage.
posted by tonycpsu at 7:55 AM on November 5 [14 favorites]


If the majority of Mefites can't access a link, another site needs to be linked to as well. I am interested in the Scorcese topic but I can't read his full thoughts, so how can I understand his position and comment on it here? It's disappointing and I feel I cannot join the discussion.
posted by agregoli at 8:02 AM on November 5 [12 favorites]


This is not intended to be a general or systematic solution for anything, but to get around the new-style paywall, you can use a browser plugin that allows you to selectively disable javascript. NoScript is the original, though there are some new really simple ones that allow you to click a button once on a page that reloads the page without javascript (for chrome and firefox).
posted by Jpfed at 8:04 AM on November 5 [12 favorites]


I think we should stop linking to them because they are white supremacist sympathizers, but hey, whatever works!
posted by agregoli

If the majority of Mefites can't access a link, another site needs to be linked to as well. I am interested in the Scorcese topic but I can't read his full thoughts, so how can I understand his position and comment on it here? It's disappointing and I feel I cannot join the discussion.
posted by agregoli


Which one is it? Are they bad and people shouldn't read the Times at all or does the paywall suck and you can't keep reading their stories which you want to understand and comment on, expanding the cultural reach of the NYT?

This seems like, "Boy, the food at this place is terrible, and such small portions!"
posted by ActingTheGoat at 8:50 AM on November 5 [15 favorites]


Did I try "X". Yes. I know this isnt a solution long term. For those interested in short term solutions:

Current whac-a-mole:

Use chrome reader view (use the app store to add it as a plugin) then, as the page loads, switching to reader view, bypasses the paywall. You may have to refresh the page once and try again...... I tried this 10 minutes ago. it works. for now.

Basically the reader view intercepts the javascript removal technique....
posted by lalochezia at 8:55 AM on November 5 [5 favorites]


This seems like, "Boy, the food at this place is terrible, and such small portions!"

That is sort of how I feel about the NYT these days, and I haven't gotten myself to a coherent place on it. That is, I stopped subscribing and am not giving them any money as a matter of principle after how they handled the 2016 election (on top of the Iraq War, and on top of Whitewater -- it was a slow burn). But I really miss them, both in their role as Paper of Record for hard news and also because I found their cultural coverage entertaining and enjoyable. Not subscribing hurts.

Which means that I guess I'm in favor of not linking to it, but I think it will mean missing stuff.
posted by LizardBreath at 8:57 AM on November 5 [17 favorites]


Acting the Goat, it's both! I hate NYT. I think we shouldn't link to them. And we shouldn't use a main link in a post to anything the majority of mefites can't read cause of paywall. Why is that confusing? Two issues, linked in this instance. Nothing contradictory about that.
posted by agregoli at 8:58 AM on November 5 [8 favorites]


For any topic that is covered in a different outlet (like an event in the news), I see the wisdom in not allowing the NYT link. If there’s something of interest to the community that is only available in the NYT, I don’t think it’s wrong to link that.

I have chosen not to participate in FPPs in the past because I didn’t want to use one of my NYT views and didn’t feel right participating without reading the piece. To me it was ok (if not ideal) to feel like that post was somewhat off-limits to me.
posted by sallybrown at 9:45 AM on November 5 [6 favorites]


The other day in our group chat our mutual friend asked my bestie for a no-knead dutch oven bread recipe that he'd referred to in conversation previously. He quickly linked to a NYT article all about it. She replied "well I guess there will be no bread in my future because I'm paywalled." My bestie responded to this with 1) sad face emoji bread loaf emoji and 2) taking five minutes to google a bit more. Turns out that the original creator of the recipe has shared it on epicurious with no paywall and more detail and pictures and credit directly given to the chef, and my bestie's original search "dodged" this result because, y'know, SEO.

This is just to say that I agree with the original sentiment of this post - we should discourage linking to the New York Times and sites with similar practices because the majority of Mefites cannot access the content. And I think that a lot of that content, or perhaps very similar and related, can probably be found elsewhere with some search savviness and gumption. Especially if perhaps some of the folks interested in helping others craft FPPs were to talk about ways to go about this as part of that help.
posted by Mizu at 9:47 AM on November 5 [6 favorites]


I’m against this policy.

The NYT has had a paywall for nearly a decade now, if some don’t want to engage with it that’s fine but I don’t think it’s cool to make that determination for the rest of us.
posted by girlmightlive at 10:22 AM on November 5 [10 favorites]


Articles that are behind a paywall (or whatever you call a "free with registration" wall) are not okay for single-link posts and this has been true for over a decade. If the NYT is doing this, people should try to find other supporting links.

I personally agree that the NYT has become super problematic in their editorial pages (and with many of their other article choices) for the past few years but other than links to hate sites, links to most things on the internet, including the aggravating NYT, have always been ok.
posted by jessamyn (retired) at 10:37 AM on November 5 [34 favorites]


I agree that we shouldn't link to them anymore. I've grown to resent their idiotic coverage so much the past three years and the aggressive paywalling only compounds it.

This is timely for me because I planned to make an FPP later tonight where one of the many source links was going to be from NYT, but I'm now going to drop that article from the post. There are plenty of alternative sources including ones that are smaller and independent.
posted by nightrecordings at 11:43 AM on November 5


For many (maybe not all?) paywalled/register-for-full-content articles, there's the option of using a Wayback link instead of the original. (I wind up doing this for NYT and WaPo articles a lot.) This avoids both the paywall javascript and giving hits to the original site.
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 11:53 AM on November 5 [1 favorite]


> The NYT has had a paywall for nearly a decade now, if some don’t want to engage with it that’s fine but I don’t think it’s cool to make that determination for the rest of us.

The paywalling of their content has gotten significantly more aggressive over the last ten years, both in the amount of content behind the wall and the lengths to which they'll go to prevent casual readers from accessing it. It's reached a tipping point.

I was a longtime paper-copy subscriber and a former web subscriber. I'm not unsympathetic to the need to generate revenue. But continuous tech development to fill the moat with alligators now appears to be a higher priority than the reporting that once made them the paper of record.
posted by desuetude at 11:56 AM on November 5 [5 favorites]


At this point, I don't see what the difference is between linking to an NYT article and and to a post in a closed forum. Single-link posts to either should be summarily deleted, IMO.
posted by invitapriore at 12:04 PM on November 5 [2 favorites]


I agree that it would be better not to post them, but for annoyed people in this thread, I recommend this Firefox extension to read the articles.
posted by value of information at 12:09 PM on November 5 [2 favorites]


For many (maybe not all?) paywalled/register-for-full-content articles, there's the option of using a Wayback link instead of the original.

May have previously been true, is not true now. The current Scorcese post's only link, if viewed via the wayback machine, has the same content-deleting JS and prompt for payment.

To reiterate: yes, the NYT has had a paywall for a while. However, that paywall has in the past ranged from trivially avoidable to avoidable with minor effort. This is not the case anymore. I swear to god, even going into a browser I have never used in 2+ years (Edge) on the same computer that was blocked out in Chrome, the content is not available. Not on mobile, not on a different computer entirely -- simply not doable, without writing a custom browser plugin that prevents it and would have to be updated constantly.

The NYT has finally made their paywall annoying enough that working around it is not worth the effort. Maybe that will mean they get more subscriptions. However, 100% for sure, that makes it an awful choice for the primary link on a site where, while not always achieved perfectly, the intent is for posts to be accessible to the whole userbase.
posted by tocts at 12:10 PM on November 5 [4 favorites]


....Is there a similar "hide the paywall" extension for people who use Chrome?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:11 PM on November 5




I agree with the usability (lack of) argument.

I hesitate to agree with the content argument; while it's true that they have made many extremely problematic editorial decisions, they have also published some important reporting, like Trump Engaged in Suspect Tax Schemes.

But if we discourage linking to them just on the ground of lack of access, it doesn't so much matter if we all agree about the editorial aspect.

Maybe we can find follow-up reports from other sources, and link to those instead.
posted by kristi at 12:32 PM on November 5


I don't understand how people can simultaneously mourn the demise of journalism on the web and complain about paywalls. I don't think it's a particularly righteous position to state that you're completely against paywall-ed newspaper sites. That's what Reddit goes with, and I thought we were better than Reddit? It's been shown again and again that "free" online content from newspapers is not sustainable. Someone needs to pay journalists to write stuff. I understand why people are annoyed by the NYTimes paywall, or their editorial slant, but what is the solution you suggest instead? Personally, I'm happy to pay the NYTimes and the Washington Post some money to keep doing what they're doing, because I think having at least some reasonable quality journalism in this country is important.
posted by peacheater at 12:43 PM on November 5 [54 favorites]


Neither the the NYT not the Washington Post are newspapers in my country. Part of making the front page more accessible to anything but Americans is not having paywalls that have the added difficulty of not being in their country.

We sorted this out years ago with web sites like JSTOR; lots of good stuff there that we just straight up don't link to. I don't know whether the NYT's paywall has reached that level but it's mighty close. That a significant portion of Mefites already have access (and I doubt it reaches even single digit percentage of logged in monthly users) shouldn't have a bearing on the policy.
posted by Mitheral at 12:55 PM on November 5 [9 favorites]


I mean. Would we also be banning any YouTube or Twitter links in FPPs? (Do we or do we not link to sites whose business model involves playing footsie with nazis?)
posted by sugar and confetti at 12:59 PM on November 5 [3 favorites]


...which is to say, I don't think the editorial argument holds up to scrutiny, shitty as the NYT is, but in response to tocts' original question, I agree on usability grounds that we should not single-link to sites that enforce paywalls as aggressively as the NYT does.
posted by sugar and confetti at 1:06 PM on November 5 [1 favorite]


I don't understand how people can simultaneously mourn the demise of journalism on the web and complain about paywalls.

People are complaining about links to paywalled content, and a few are complaining about the NYT as an editorial entity. Nobody is saying that journalists should not be paid to do journalism, just that on a site where many of us are already paying to participate, we don't want to run into a whole FPP that is unreadable without paying additional money...
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 2:19 PM on November 5 [7 favorites]


Someone needs to pay journalists to write stuff.

Sure. But two things. One, not all of us can afford to pay every media outlet that Mefi might reference.

Two, when Mefites do support information sources, it's not Mefi's business or yours which ones we support. "You ought to support journalism if you have the money" is a defensible position; "you must subscribe to the New York Times" is not.
posted by zompist at 2:43 PM on November 5 [7 favorites]


I strongly disagree with this suggestion.
posted by Harvey Kilobit at 3:22 PM on November 5 [1 favorite]


Not on mobile, not on a different computer entirely -- simply not doable, without writing a custom browser plugin that prevents it and would have to be updated constantly.

As Jpfed said, this isn't a response to the issue at hand or necessarily a permanent solution, but for whoever this is helpful to: I can access the site fine on Firefox, desktop and mobile, using noscript.
posted by trig at 3:22 PM on November 5 [2 favorites]


I understand why people are annoyed by the NYTimes paywall, or their editorial slant, but what is the solution you suggest instead?

The NYT paywall is /particularly/ egregious. They're not just saying 'hey we'd like you to pay for journalism', they're saying, "Peasant, if you can't afford our newspaper, we will give you absolutely no inkling of the important news contained." The NYT has gone through a lot of variations. It was fine when it was paywalled, but avoidable, and it was fine when it was paywalled except for articles of national importance. It is not fine when literally everything is super-paywalled, and I would agree we should not be linking it.
posted by corb at 3:35 PM on November 5 [4 favorites]


Are they really not allowing logged-in users their 10 articles a month? That always seemed like the right tradeoff between browsing the front page at the newstand for free and buying the thing. Having attractive content and charging for it beyond a small free ration seemed like a win-win. Regardless, I agree that fully paywalled content, even from major sources, shouldn't be the sole source of a post.

Would something like Blendle (pay per article) work? You can get the Scorsese piece there for US$.19, and they have a free trial with $5 of credit before you have to top up. I realize that's adding one more paywall to the mix, and the Blendle user interface has a lot to be desired because you can't search by URL. So to find the Blendle version you have to search for "Scorsese Marvel" (and to their credit it comes up pretty frequently).
posted by wnissen at 3:55 PM on November 5 [1 favorite]


Hey just throwing my hat in with Fuck the NYT and fuck their paywall, their transphobia, their white supremacy and their racism.
posted by odinsdream at 5:46 PM on November 5 [9 favorites]


I would agree that single link NYT posts can be iffy, but I think that's true for single link posts in general. I get that the paywall is a nuisance. In fact I got a subscription in part because of it. Not everyone can or wants to do that, of course.

Looking at the past week it seems like perhaps a dozen NYT links have been posted to the front page. As far as I can gather a lot of these links provide background on some person or topic. I guess I don't see the harm in having them, if there's a lack of more accessible resources.
posted by dmh at 6:16 PM on November 5


Two recent headlines:
A [Florida] library wanted a New York Times subscription. Officials refused, citing Trump and ‘fake news.’

White House urges all federal agencies to cancel Washington Post and New York Times subscriptions.
In reaction to this I mightily disagree with censoring any linkage to the NYT here. Please continue informing all of us what you're seeing there. Please include lots of quotes from articles to benefit those of us like Mitheral mentions. Please continue posting hacks to get around their paywall (as well as the WaPo's.)

If there’s something of interest to the community that is only available in the NYT, I don’t think it’s wrong to link that.

Completely agree. Screw their editorials; it's the news that's important. Very often I see links to their articles in Google News which is the only source of a story. Helps us out, those of you with subscriptions!
posted by Rash at 6:44 PM on November 5 [5 favorites]


In reaction to this I mightily disagree with censoring any linkage to the NYT here.

It is not censorship to refrain from linking to articles that most people cannot read because of a paywall. If the Times is desperately in need of more views, they have every right to make their content accessible, a right which at present they have chosen not to avail themselves of.
posted by tocts at 7:38 PM on November 5 [4 favorites]


MSN and other outlets sometimes reprint articles from WaPo and the NYT, and while it seems like best practice to link to the original source, in the past I have also included links to reprints, and maybe we should all be in the habit of also including links to reprints whenever one is available on a more accessible site.

I also appreciate this MeTa, because I hadn't fully considered how it isn't standard practice to have basic security protections like NoScript installed, but I do think that Jpfed and trig raise important points to consider in this discussion.
posted by katra at 8:20 PM on November 5


Every news channel is commercialised and favours ruling parties. Gone are those days when BBC would be the best and most reliable news source. They used to show truth but today money has exploited everything. So I don't read any news anymore.
posted by crisscross31 at 9:16 PM on November 5


That Scorcese post has 275 comments, single link NYT posts don’t seem to be holding people back from discussion if they so choose.
posted by girlmightlive at 10:31 PM on November 5 [7 favorites]


The flipside of that though is the Scorcese post is a setup for a discussion of (a) a thing that's been making the rounds on social media already in a zeitgeisty way independent of the specific article, and (b) a thing that people can find plenty to chatter/argue about independent of any article. I think there's less of a case, in that particular instance, for "the paywall isn't a problem" so much as "access to the link isn't really essential to people's participation".

Whatever else there is to say about the balance on the paywall issue (and I generally agree with the "avoid hanging a post entirely on an NYT link if possible" sentiment because they really have been getting up to a lot of brinksmanship bullshit with their paywall stuff), people are gonna argue about movies and argue about arguments about movies.
posted by cortex (staff) at 10:38 PM on November 5 [3 favorites]


They're not just saying 'hey we'd like you to pay for journalism'

(Which, by contrast, is exactly the pitch that, combined with their continued/reiterated focus on quality, is what has recently enabled The Guardian’s return to profitability.)
posted by progosk at 1:22 AM on November 6 [5 favorites]


NYT, WaPo etc . have the right to paywall their content. But I'd like to see MeFi as open access as possible. Personally, paywalled content (which producers have a legitimate right to charge for, etc.) does not strike me as 'best of the Web.' Do we still say 'best of the Web' btw?
posted by carter at 2:53 AM on November 6 [1 favorite]


Weirdly, in the last day or two, I've stopped seeing the NYT paywall. It had been very solid, like the WaPo's for at least a week. I'm not sure if they changed something, my collection of extensions caught up or I'm in an A/B test or what.
posted by hoyland at 3:39 AM on November 6


headdesk probably because it's now November and whatever monthly count reset.
posted by hoyland at 3:40 AM on November 6 [5 favorites]


Here's the Guardian story about what Rash referred to: Florida county refuses to pay for New York Times in libraries: 'It's fake news'

I am not going to use that to defend continuing single-links to the NYT, and no - it's not censorship to stop such linking.

Personally, I find the Guardian a much better source of all kinds of news. I appreciate their full-throated advocacy on the climate crisis, for one thing.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 3:41 AM on November 6 [5 favorites]


I think there's less of a case, in that particular instance, for "the paywall isn't a problem" so much as "access to the link isn't really essential to people's participation".

So it seems single link NYT posts can and do work here.

And people do access the NYT from different resources so I don't know if we should assume that this is a big barrier for as many people as is implied.
posted by girlmightlive at 4:57 AM on November 6 [1 favorite]


Scorcese's article is somewhere else, in full? I wanted to talk about his actual words, not argue in general about movies and art. It is a huge barrier for me, on a post that is very interesting to me. If his article is somewhere else, someone please post it in that thread. I want discussions to focus on the content of a post, not generalities, in the spirit of what Metafilter has ALWAYS been.
posted by agregoli at 5:22 AM on November 6


How do companies deal with digital subscriptions? I ask because what if MetaFilter had accounts to a few of the more-frequently linked news sites, and members can (somehow) use/share the login?

Oh, and fuck the NYT too.
posted by terrapin at 6:34 AM on November 6


People are even complaining in that thread, that "you haven't read the link." Well, yes, because it's paywalled.
posted by agregoli at 8:19 AM on November 6 [3 favorites]


One of the things that makes this tricky is the NYT does still allow some free reading of articles, the limit is just even smaller than it was (I think it’s now five free per month before the paywall kicks in?). Like I said upthread, I ration my views, which means I don’t participate in every FPP here involving a NYT link that I might otherwise, because I don’t want to be the person commenting in the post who didn’t read the article, and I don’t want to spend my views easily. I also don’t comment on FanFare posts where I can’t watch a show because I don’t have Hulu, or even FPP posts built around a longform article I don’t have the time to read. Probably any FPP posted at the end of a given month that involves a NYT link I won’t be able to participate in. But that seems a better world to me than one in which we ban all NYT links, just because the NYT does get some content that other publications don’t that are of interest and importance. I get that others disagree but I don’t think it’s such a huge burden to not be able to comment in every single FPP.
posted by sallybrown at 8:27 AM on November 6 [6 favorites]


I think it’s now five free per month before the paywall kicks in?

At present it is one article (which they describe as "a preview"), unless you are willing to create a free account with them so they can track you / have your contact details. Their wording is squirrely on whether it is one article per month, or ever. They are also very obviously using cross-browser fingerprinting to ensure that you can't get around this by switching from Chrome to Edge or whatever.

If you give them your contact details they will deign to give you 5 free articles per month.

A post on metafilter where people are being kept out not because they don't care about the topic but because the content is inaccessible to them goes against what metafilter has stood for since basically forever.
posted by tocts at 8:42 AM on November 6 [7 favorites]


I support the right of the NYT or any site to paywall. Once a site does paywall, it becomes exclusive and limits its readership to those who can afford it. That too is their choice. Maybe they get higher ad rates because their readership can afford to buy things. I do not know. What I do know is that participation on this site is free (after the $5 signup which I am told can be waived for any individual that needs the waiver). If I have to subscribe to the NYT in order to participate on this site, it is no longer free. Not only that, someone other than this site is collecting the pay to play monies for this site. Odd thing that.

As for NYTs content, I am fascinated by the fact that the left hates the paper as much as the right. I do not like their bias injected into actual news articles and not being clear about what is news and what is opinion or conjecture. In the good ol' days, the articles would be separate. Who, what, where, when went in to one story, the news story, and the editorializing went into another story.

I choose not to read the NYTimes. No biggie. My choice. I choose to not participate in fpp's that have as their primary link, a NYT article. Also no biggie. Also my choice. Having said that, I thought (and still think) that this site is doing its best to be an inclusive site open to all at no cost. Asking for donations and financial support separate from being a requirement to participate is evidence of that. So why let a paywalled site be the limiter on this site?
posted by AugustWest at 8:49 AM on November 6 [2 favorites]


This may get deleted but, I subscribe to my local paper, and can only afford 1 other subscription. If anybody would share a sub to the NYTimes, I'll share WaPo,or vice versa. Meanwhile I go to the Library,and that's all good.
posted by theora55 at 9:32 AM on November 6


So why let a paywalled site be the limiter on this site?

Because banning the NYT as a source (which not everyone is arguing for, but some are) also limits the site by slightly limiting what can be in an FPP. For most sources I don’t think this would be a problem at all (like if we collectively decided to ban HuffPost or something). But because of the NYT’s stature, it gets some exclusive things that are big news or make a big splash. Maybe the Scorsese op-ed is not that, but what about the editorial from Anonymous inside the Trump Administration, for example?

That’s why I would be hesitant to totally ban NYT.
posted by sallybrown at 9:40 AM on November 6 [2 favorites]


A post on metafilter where people are being kept out not because they don't care about the topic but because the content is inaccessible to them goes against what metafilter has stood for since basically forever.

Unless you don't live in the United States, in which case, the attitude to things you can't access has pretty much always been "Oh well."
posted by jacquilynne at 9:52 AM on November 6 [15 favorites]


Another frequent topic of conversation on MeFi are the byzantine rules and customs that make it difficult for new users to participate, and make engagement with the site just a little bit more comfortable.

For the sake of having consistent rules, and with future tweaks and rules in mind, I think a posting guideline like "If you are going to link to a site that is paywalled, please offer additional links to non-paywalled sites to ensure folks can access the information" is more elegant than one-offs like "single-link NYT posts are not allowed." And it keeps the focus on the problem (paywalls and access) rather than which specific sources are and aren't allowed.
posted by sugar and confetti at 10:12 AM on November 6 [28 favorites]


Unless you don't live in the United States, in which case, the attitude to things you can't access has pretty much always been "Oh well."

That's some lovely and useless drive-by snark, but in fact people do try to avoid leaving out people outside the US, when it's obvious it's even a thing (because unfortunately many platforms make it very hard to know). In the case of the times, we know 100% up front that this is the case.
posted by tocts at 10:12 AM on November 6 [1 favorite]


Unless you don't live in the United States, in which case, the attitude to things you can't access has pretty much always been "Oh well."

Not by the mods; this is what the FAQ says. Flag them if you see them,
posted by jessamyn (retired) at 11:36 AM on November 6


The fact that there are NYT posts on the site only means you cannot comment on those posts. There are still plenty of posts you can comment on. And you can read the NYT posts, and their comments, and learn about something you might not have seen otherwise.
posted by DanSachs at 3:24 PM on November 6 [1 favorite]


Is there any way we can compile possible resources to gain free access to frequently-linked paywalled sites like the NY Times? This might be an impossible request, but I'm just throwing it out there.

For instance, I can get online access to the NY Times via my library card. I'm still looking for similar access to the LA Times, Washington Post and WSJ, and would love some sort of "If you live in (particular city or country), you can read for free via xxx. If you live in (other place), try this."

Again, I realize this might be impossible, and I'm not in love with the NY Times, but I think they still have a lot of content that people rightly may want to link to. And the fact that an entire county in Florida has denied its library a subscription to the Times because it's "fake news" is freaking me out.
posted by queensissy at 4:10 PM on November 6 [6 favorites]


BugMeNot used to offer this as a web based service.I've occasionally used it for one-time logins to "free registration" sites where I don't want to register. (not valid for NYTimes but maybe other sites)
posted by jessamyn (retired) at 4:37 PM on November 6


I'm trying to understand how there'd be a scenario where NYT or another paywalled news source is the only source for something that is worth having an FPP about. It feels like a post's quality would overall benefit from having additional sources anyway.
posted by Aleyn at 6:24 PM on November 6 [1 favorite]


I understand the rationale for banning single-link FPPs that would only be accessible to people with subscriptions--such posts reduce, at least a little bit, Metafilter's spirit of inclusivity. However, as has been pointed out above, this has to be weighted against the problem, often discussed here, of the ever-growing list of rules and prohibitions that make it difficult and intimidating for new people to join the community. With that second consideration in mind, I don't think this rule is worth implementing.

The other argument, that we should ban links to the NYT on ideological grounds is, in my opinion, totally wrong. This is the most prominent periodical in the US. Its editorial position has an important influence on public discourse. Its ideological faults are those of a much larger and more consequential segment of this country's political elite, and we ignore that at our peril. And boycotting makes no sense because, for all its faults, the NYT supports a great many journalists, some of whom even do important and laudable work. The benefit they bring is vital, while the mainstreaming of racists and fascists has a more important locus than this newspaper: the state.
posted by a certain Sysoi Pafnut'evich at 7:25 PM on November 6 [10 favorites]


The fact that there are NYT posts on the site only means you cannot comment on those posts.

Oh really? Mods, care to clarify this?

I believe you're allowed to comment on any post (except in the green -- please resist the urge to answer questions conditioned by introductions like "I don't really know but I think/hope/heard that/am guessing the answer is..." etc.) Yes, maybe you can't see the article, but that doesn't mean you don't have something valuable to contribute to the discussion. Maybe you're an expert on the issue, and if so I would like to read your reaction (even if you haven't been able to RTFA).
posted by Rash at 8:11 PM on November 6


I basically don't bother to click on WaPo links, haven't for ages, so I get why it's annoying.

I haven't actually felt like I've had a problem getting around the NYT paywall yet though - granted I am accessing it from at least three different connections most days - am I about to this November?
posted by atoxyl at 8:31 PM on November 6


Anyway I think the "no single link paywall" rule is probably sufficient regardless.
posted by atoxyl at 8:35 PM on November 6 [1 favorite]


> The fact that there are NYT posts on the site only means you cannot comment on those posts.

Oh really? Mods, care to clarify this?


That's not a rule, no. There's certainly a general desire for folks to engage with the content of the links in a post, but it's something we trust folks to basically navigate situationally in any given thread and not something that's explicitly enforced in any case.

To put it another way, there's the odd situation where someone manages to Fail To Read The Article in such an extreme fashion that they'd get their comment deleted, but it takes some real effort to pull off (or some real lack of effort, the prototypical case of this being explicitly declaring you didn't read the article and also here's a hot hot take).

It's good to read the links, but it's also often possible to thoughtfully engage in a thread independent of them, and in any given thread we're likely to see a mix of participation there. Sometimes not reading the links and then commenting leads to folks noting that your comment's at odds with the actual content of the links. That mild social opprobrium is about the level at which any of this is normally enforced.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:05 PM on November 6


If the issue is a paywall, then whatever.

If the issue is “I hate The NY Times” and the paywall is just good cover for that, WTF? Metafilter is now going to screen sources for ideological purity and The NY Times, of all things. doesn’t make the cut? What other sources need to be purged for incorrect thinking?

I get the negative attitudes toward the Times. But it isn’t Breitbart. It is the paper of record. It features journalism not found elsewhere and at scale. Many great writers work for it.

There are reasons I come here less and less. The ideological brittleness of the conversation is a big one.
posted by spitbull at 3:11 AM on November 7 [21 favorites]


Not once have I commented on the ideology of the Times, and I'd thank you for not making up ulterior motives for my posting this. This is, for me, about paywalled sites being bad for MeFi, with the Times having become a particularly notable instance worth calling out specifically.
posted by tocts at 4:04 AM on November 7 [2 favorites]


I think we should stop linking to them because they are white supremacist sympathizers, but hey, whatever works!

I guess I'm not keeping up. Where do they do that?
posted by pracowity at 4:34 AM on November 7


If we don't allow links to JSTOR or other journal portals (we don't) then I don't see why the NYT is any different. If something is so ubiquitous that it's being discussed in all sorts of other places too, link to one of those places, not the NYT.
posted by Dysk at 5:42 AM on November 7 [2 favorites]


I'm trying to understand how there'd be a scenario where NYT or another paywalled news source is the only source for something that is worth having an FPP about. It feels like a post's quality would overall benefit from having additional sources anyway.

Here's an example I'm thinking of today- the NYTimes has a video opinion piece from Mary Cain about her experience training with Alberto Salazar. You could pad out the post with details about her career but the video is the primary source for the post. I would not agree with a policy that would keep a post of this video off Metafilter.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 6:36 AM on November 7 [5 favorites]


Personally, I find the Guardian a much better source of all kinds of news.

For me, as of yesterday, the Guardian website is now showing a very large yellow "please subscribe" banner on all pages, with no obvious close mechanism. It's obtrusive enough to put me off the website altogether, and means I probably won't be posting Guardian links in comments here any more.

(I actually *do* subscribe, or at least I pay them a recurring fee via the iPhone app, but my credentials aren't recognised on the website as being associated with a subscription. I don't know whether that's because what I'm doing is categorised as something else, or whether I've managed to wind up with two different sets of credentials in the two different places, or what.)
posted by ManyLeggedCreature at 6:41 AM on November 7 [2 favorites]


I think we should stop linking to them because they are white supremacist sympathizers, but hey, whatever works!

I guess I'm not keeping up. Where do they do that?


I was puzzled by that too. I'm guessing it's a reference to this article from a couple of years ago, A Voice of Hate in America, where a white nationalist is profiled and presented as a human being who is not necessarily 100% evil in every aspect of his life. It looks at what he thinks and why he says he thinks it without supporting any of his beliefs (but also without stating that his beliefs are evil and that he is a monster.) For those who can't read the original article, this letter from the director of the Anti-Defamation League explains how some people felt about the article.
posted by Redstart at 6:48 AM on November 7 [3 favorites]


Listen, there's tons of research articles I would love to post but don't because many MeFites won't have access to them and I assumed that would be frowned upon. If we decide paywalls are no problem I see no reason why I can't post them (and tell people to read the article when they go "but did they think about x??" when that was already addressed in the article). Get ready for an influx of qualitative autism research, y'all.

but to be clear my vote is still for paywalls are a problem
posted by brook horse at 6:55 AM on November 7 [3 favorites]


Here's an example I'm thinking of today- the NYTimes has a video opinion piece from Mary Cain

it being a video is also an accessibility thing - there's caption but no audio description, from what i can tell, and cognitively or computerily, sometimes a seven-minute video isn't doable. that's not a criticism or a suggestion that video posts aren't ok, just that all fpp content probably can't be accessible to every user, and paywall links just make that explicit.

i don't really know what the limit of linking to paywall sites should be, but if NYT links continue to be ok, i like labelling them [NYT] like some people do as a standard (i would like that for all links, also, personally).
posted by gaybobbie at 7:01 AM on November 7 [1 favorite]


I'm fine with encouraging (not requiring) a secondary link to get to the same information without a paywall, and labeling NYT links as such, but if the decision is to ban NYT links altogether (as some are suggesting here), then I'm out of here.

Paywalls are, for better or worse, one of the things that are sustaining good journalism, and good journalism is essential to sustaining a democratic society. Voluntary donations instead of a hard paywall would not sustain the New York Times. (They are barely sustaining MetaFilter.) If you value good journalism, you should be subscribing to some of it by subscribing, rather than handwringing about it not being sufficiently accessible to people who choose not to support it.
posted by beagle at 7:52 AM on November 7 [7 favorites]


Paywalls are, for better or worse, one of the things that are sustaining good journalism

There are lots of things that are good and should be paid for, but if they aren't open access, they aren't suitable for metafilter.

If you value good journalism, you should be subscribing to some of it by subscribing, rather than handwringing about it not being sufficiently accessible to people who choose not to support it.

Valuing good journalism is not the same as valuing the NYT, and you cannot expect everyone to subscribe to the NYT specifically. There is lots of cool stuff behind various paywalls that I think is worth paying for, but I can't expect everyone to subscribe to that, either. And consequently, neither should go on mefi. It's for sharing cool links, and discussing them. You're not really sharing anything if you're linking to a paywall, except for to the club of people who subscribe to a thing.

And if mefi is going to be anything other than exclusively US-centric, it doesn't make sense to make one exception for an American newspaper.
posted by Dysk at 8:17 AM on November 7 [4 favorites]


Paywalls kind of suck. But the alternative is advertising, which as we well know incentivizes pernicious tracking, malicious code, and carpet-bombing social media with clickbait. Which has done more harm to the web in the long run?

I don't think we should ban links to websites just because they are trying to build business models that rely less on advertising.
posted by oulipian at 8:24 AM on November 7


I don't think we should ban links to websites just because they are trying to build business models that rely less on advertising.

It's not because they're trying to build a business model, it's because it isn't open access and available to all mefites within reasonable parameters.
posted by Dysk at 8:35 AM on November 7 [1 favorite]


There are lots of things that are good and should be paid for, but if they aren't open access, they aren't suitable for metafilter.

But that includes not just the NYT, but now also the Washington Post, The New Yorker, Vanity Fair...probably others that I don’t check often enough to use up my free views. And we’re seeing this kind of limited access increase, not decrease, as time goes on. It’s easier with a subscription setup like the Daily Beast, where some articles are for everyone and others are locked to all non-subscribers, or the WSJ, where the overwhelming majority of articles are subscriber-only no matter what.
posted by sallybrown at 8:39 AM on November 7 [4 favorites]


To me since NYT still allows 5 free articles a month that doesn’t make it inaccessible.
posted by girlmightlive at 9:05 AM on November 7 [2 favorites]


Again, 1 article (possibly ever? again, unclear), unless you create an account.

A link to a site that was free to sign up but required you sign up to see anything would still be a bad fit for MeFi, even without a financial cost.
posted by tocts at 9:10 AM on November 7 [3 favorites]


I'm very confused by the differing accounts of how many free articles you get from the Times. I don't have an account and am still getting 5 free articles a month.
posted by cakelite at 9:26 AM on November 7


It's entirely possible that how bad the paywall seems is based on a number of invisible factors, such as geography, assumed audience membership (i.e. from tracking cookies), etc. It's frankly nuts the degree to which sites can slice up the groups of people coming in these days, and treat them differently based on algorithmic assumptions about how best to try to get them to pay up. If the Times is doing that kind of thing, that's frankly all the more reason to assume they are not a broadly accessible site, and act accordingly.
posted by tocts at 10:05 AM on November 7 [5 favorites]


I'm a bit late to this debate, but I hope we don't do a blanket exclusion on single-link NYT pieces. I have significant problems with their coverage and opinions section, but as a user who primarily makes single-link posts that are not news stories, I would hate to lose the ability to post some of their more significant one-off pieces that we find in the books or culture sections, or the major accomplishment that was the 1619 project. Extra link padding is not an option for these types of posts.
posted by Think_Long at 11:27 AM on November 7 [8 favorites]


If I get a vote, I say NYT links are fine unless they’re the sole link. I don’t care about their editorials—I always skip them in the Times and in the WaPo because I am paying for news, not for an opinion-dictator to tell me what to think. Eliminating a news source because of their editorials is a little more opinion-bubbly than I personally want.
posted by Gilgamesh's Chauffeur at 5:21 PM on November 7 [2 favorites]


Gotta get someone outside the grasp of the American empire to set up the Sci-Hub / libgen for articles concerning recent events.
posted by save alive nothing that breatheth at 7:57 PM on November 7 [1 favorite]


I think it makes sense to differentiate between topics that are covered widely—in which case a single link to a NY Times article doesn't make sense if it is not a relatively convenient way for mefites to get the information at the heart of the post—versus links to NY Times original investigations. In the latter case, you could pad out the post with other links, but the original contribution of the Times reporters and stories from their sources are the heart of the post. In that sense, single-link NY Times posts are the ones I would want to keep because they have the most value, even if everybody can't access the content. The piece on Mary Cain linked above is a great example. Another example: the Times broke the Harvey Weinstein story. Would it have made sense to wait for someone else to cover it to post it here?

Fortunately, a lot of the Times' best stuff is from their partnership with ProPublica and I think all of that is easily accessible at ProPublica's website.
posted by nequalsone at 12:57 PM on November 8 [2 favorites]


Just as a bit of extra data, for those who are so quick to consign the NY Times to the trash bin of white supremacy garbage, I'd encourage you to learn about their 1619 Project. Yes, I understand the irony of a single link to the NY times in a post about not doing that.

The conservative establishment has been outraged by the project and are railing against it. I know that the internet has become all about consigning things to simple categories without nuance. But those of you who are avoiding NYT content on principle might want to learn about the Project.

In August of 1619, a ship appeared on this horizon, near Point Comfort, a coastal port in the English colony of Virginia. It carried more than 20 enslaved Africans, who were sold to the colonists. No aspect of the country that would be formed here has been untouched by the years of slavery that followed. In the 400th anniversary of this fateful moment, it is finally time to tell our story truthfully.
posted by jasper411 at 1:17 PM on November 8 [10 favorites]


I find I'm using Reader View in Safari (I assume other browsers have their own equivalent) more and more, as an increasing number of sites fill the screen with messages and leave you with a letterbox five lines deep to read through. This works for the Guardian, if anyone's interested, at least until they block it.
posted by Grangousier at 4:28 AM on November 9 [1 favorite]


for those who are so quick to consign the NY Times to the trash bin of white supremacy garbage, I'd encourage you to learn about their 1619 Project.

Yeah, no one ever talks about the positive economic effects of the cotton trade, either.
posted by Etrigan at 5:03 AM on November 9


>I mean. Would we also be banning any YouTube or Twitter links in FPPs?

I've been thinking for a long time that the embedded YouTube player should be retired. Almost all links to anything you've heard of have disabled all embedding so (almost) everything displays the dreaded "Video Unavailable." It's a drag, man.
posted by rhizome at 3:47 PM on November 9


I understand the paywall concern, for sure. I have the same issues when trying to read the Washington Post or, for that matter, even my local newspaper. However, the proposal of an outright ban of a source as culturally relevant as the NYT is something that I find really worrisome. Since we are living in strange, often scary times, encouraging any kind of ban is a step that should be taken very, very carefully. I realize that OP's intent was not to "ban" but rather to increase article accessibility; however, much of the tone throughout this thread has been incredibly negative toward the NYT ("fuck the NYT") making this proposal feel more personal than practical to the community. We have a president who deals his problems by making them simply making them go away - if he doesn't like a news outlet, it's relentlessly mocked and then forbidden delivery to the White House (or entire counties). In an increasingly anti-intellectual culture that constantly "cancels" anything/everything/everyone, keeping a measured approach is becoming antiquated.
posted by WaspEnterprises at 6:49 PM on November 9 [5 favorites]


We have a president who deals his problems by making

You Americans do, yeah. We mefites have cortex who does none of those things.
posted by Dysk at 1:51 AM on November 10 [2 favorites]


That’s my error; We have a president who ... should be Folks in the United States have a president who ....
posted by WaspEnterprises at 6:50 AM on November 10 [1 favorite]


This does not affect the discussion here one way or the other, but one still viable workaround to the paywall is Instapaper (and maybe other read-it-later services, I don't know). I frequently find it useful to drop the link in there, and then however it is that instapaper is fetching the content, it doesn't seem to be affected by the paywall. Then I just read it on instapaper's site, which also eliminates any ads or popovers or anything. Not a mass solution, but instapaper is free and it works well.
posted by vibratory manner of working at 12:08 AM on November 11


May have previously been true, is not true now. The current Scorcese post's only link, if viewed via the wayback machine, has the same content-deleting JS and prompt for payment.

It's... not? I just checked:
"http://web.archive.org/web/20191105001002/https://www.nytimes.com/2019/11/04/opinion/martin-scorsese-marvel.html


And this is the very first capture of the 40 captures they have.

And I checked 3 more random stories that are less than 24 hours old from the NYT front page, and they all had their full text in the Wayback Machine. So for me, it seems fairly clear-cut: post the NYT link and post the Wayback link with it. Or just link to Wayback the first place. Problem solved?
posted by KTamas at 2:49 AM on November 11


If the internet archive or instapaper remove the paywall, then just link to those instead of the NYT itself.
posted by Dysk at 2:53 AM on November 11


Addendum: yes this does not solve video content or some of the fancy multimedia stuff, but it seems to be a solution at least for the "traditional" articles.

For the rest, yeah the paywall sucks but I'd say it's still worth posting if it's good content.

The NYT is culturally significant and I think it would be a major blow to MeFi to just blanket ban them.
posted by KTamas at 2:54 AM on November 11


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