A Follow Up on the STLToday Paywall Story

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Yesterday’s post about how to bypass the weak STLToday.com paywall has gained a fair bit of traction over the last 24 hours. Here’s the story on the Riverfront Times (the alt newspaper in St. Louis).

Before this gets further out of hand I wanted to address a few points that I didn’t hit in my original blog post and weren’t in the RFT article:

  1. To call this “hacking” is…well…it’s not. It’s just a user script that manipulates the web page you downloaded from STLToday.com. I never touched anything on the STLToday.com servers. It’s no different than other scripts that change the look and feel of Reddit or that tweak the interface of GMail.

  2. As I detailed in the previous post, their method of implementing this paywall, running code on the client machine to check and redirect, is a very very thin barrier in front of this content. It’s as if they sent you a book in the mail and stapled the last few pages together. They know this.

  3. It seems quite clear that this was a trial as not much of their content is behind the paywall and they implemented it with the easiest possible client-side solution. My sincere hope is that they take this result result at face value and see how many people are using it to assess what they can or should do going farther based on the data. I’ve already supplied a few solutions and I’d be more than willing to help them more if that’s something they are interested in.