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Brian Krueger, PhD
Columbia University Medical Center
New York NY USA

Brian Krueger is the owner, creator and coder of LabSpaces by night and Next Generation Sequencer by day. He is currently the Director of Genomic Analysis and Technical Operations for the Institute for Genomic Medicine at Columbia University Medical Center. In his blog you will find articles about technology, molecular biology, and editorial comments on the current state of science on the internet.

My posts are presented as opinion and commentary and do not represent the views of LabSpaces Productions, LLC, my employer, or my educational institution.

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Thursday, March 17, 2011

The NYTimes has recently implemented a paywall system where users will be charged for access after a certain number of page views.  Whatever your opinions of this system are, there is an easy way around it.  I heard rumors on twitter that following a link from twitter or facebook to an article would not count against your "free" pageview limit.  Someone has started a twitter feed that links to every new NYTimes article.  This seemed a little excessive to me so I tried changing the web referrer in firefox instead.  Essentially, whenever you visit a website, your web browser tells the webserver where you last visited.  It's really easy to lie about where you've been using the FireFox plugin RefControl.  All you need to do is:

1. Install the plugin.

2. Go to -> Tools -> Add-ons

3. Scroll down to RefControl and click on it

4. An Options button will appear. Click it.

5. In the new window click Add Site.

Fill out the form like this:

Surprisingly this also worked to shut up the "sign up for an account" nag page that appears when new users try to view more than 3 stories.

Even more surprising...It's a built in feature!

Not all visits to will count toward the 20-article limit. In an effort to reduce losses among the Web site’s more than 30 million monthly readers, The Times will allow access to people who arrive at its Web site through search engines like Google and social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter. There will, however, be a five-article limit a day for people who visit the site from Google. - NYTimes

**Edit: Changed the referrer to their main twitter page.

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Blog Comments

Dub C Med School
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Did they close the Google News hole already? For a while I was just plugging the title into GN and grabbing the article that way. That method still works for the Wall Street Journal.

Brian Krueger, PhD
Columbia University Medical Center
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It may really be any referrer.  I ahve only tested it with twitter. I randomly clicked through 40 articles on two different machines using this method.  Maybe test it out on WSJ too?  Just fill out the form with the google reader referrer:

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