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Breaking Down a Paywall

A year or so ago the Raleigh newspaper, the News & Observer, went behind a paywall. They allow a certain number of article views per month before requiring you to pay to view any more. This total varies per device you are viewing on.

At least it's convenient that they allow you to pay straight from the modal window that pops up over the content.
At least it’s convenient that they allow you to pay straight from the modal window that pops up over the content.

You can argue the merits of a paywall at all, but if you’re going to implement one, you should at least make it effective.

If you try to view an article on the N&O’s site and you’re over your paywall limit, it simply displays a modal window over the content asking you to sign in. If you click the X to close the window, it sends you back to the homepage. Fairly effective for your average user I suppose, but it’s also extremely easy to break.

With essentially 1 line of CSS, I was able to completely bypass their paywall.

#gregbox-outer,
#gregbox-outer + div,
#gregbox-signInTab { display: none !important; }

I simply added the above code to the Stylish browser plugin and now I can read all of the content on their website that I want.

It looks like whomever built that paywall didn’t think things through too much.

One Comment

  1. Michael McNeill Michael McNeill

    I also recommend adding that specific element to AdBlock, which then blocks it automatically as an advert.

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