Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Misers' methods for reading the NYTimes

Some people have pointed out to me that I am the cheapest (as in most miserly) person they know in my net worth category. I plead guilty.

The Times wants to charge me $35/month for unlimited digital access (that means on multiple devices, like mobile, tablet, computer). Now, I'm all for supporting journalism, and the Times in particular, but it seems kind of high to me. Let's see how it all works out for the Grey Lady. Perhaps a micropayment scheme would be better? (Has Google rolled their version out yet?)

Apparently they won't limit access to articles reached via link (i.e., from blogs, Twitter, search engine; see below for more details). This is strategic: they want their articles to be read, and to be influential, so don't want to frustrate potential readers who arrive via search or social network.

Therefore, I think you can just type the following into Google to get (free) access to daily NYTimes content (up to 5 articles per day; see note at bottom):

site:nytimes.com < today's date > < keywords >


site:nytimes.com march 29 2011 japan reactor


site:nytimes.com 2011/03/29 japan reactor

Soon someone will write a little web or mobile app to do exactly this kind of thing, mashing a nice graphical display with links that connect via Google or Twitter or whatever. Hmm ...

Here is a Twitter feed someone has already put up for this purpose. See also links in comments below.

*** It looks like search engine links are only good for 5 articles a day:

9. Can I still access NYTimes.com articles through Facebook, Twitter, search engines or my blog?

Yes. We encourage links from Facebook, Twitter, search engines, blogs and social media. When you visit NYTimes.com through a link from one of these channels, that article (or video, slide show, etc.) will count toward your monthly limit of 20 free articles, but you will still be able to view it even if you've already read your 20 free articles.

Like other external links, links from search engine results will count toward your monthly limit. If you have reached your monthly limit, you'll have a daily limit of 5 free articles through a given search engine. This limit applies to the majority of search engines.


List2003 said...

here is some discussion about the paywall, and also some very simple ways of bypassing the scheme:


Sabine Hossenfelder said...

Had the same thought. How hard can it be to get a link from Google if that's all what Google is about? But even leaving this aside I think it's a stupid idea. You know what's going to happen? People who have a subscription will 'reproduce' the articles on their blogs, cramming in as many quotes as possible, changing a word here or there, and that's what others will read.

Here's what I don't understand: They're expecting people to pay without knowing what they get. If you buy a book or a movie, you can read a summary or reviews, but for news articles that would defeat the purpose, it's just not doable. More often than not, I read an article with an interesting title and it turns out to be useless blather. But then, there's a few articles per month that I really think are great and give me something to think about. So, why can't I give a few dollars to the author then? I mean, look, it's the equivalent of a latte at Starbucks. I wish they'd implement some easy option for this (using facebook credits maybe??), instead of asking for subscriptions.

steve hsu said...

I've been waiting for over 10 years for a good micropayments system. I even spent some time thinking about it as a startup idea long ago. But you need scale to make it work. I think Google could roll it out and be successful -- I seem to recall related announcements -- but where is the product?

DK said...

I would like to test various schemes but I can't see the paywall in action. I clicked on well over 40 links, "read" definitely more than 20 articles. Saw a pop up saying "this is your last article this month". It disappeared and I continue to be able to read any article without any hassles. What am I doing wrong? I even tried disabling Adblock but even then all the articles are displayed normally. And NYT spent $40M on this?

steve hsu said...

I'm also not seeing the paywall yet, despite having read lots of articles.

DK said...

Same thing at work. A warning disappeared with no consequences. I since opened over twenty articles without any problems. This paywall is strange.

Spandrell said...

They should make you pay a dollar a day. People just hate paying things all at once

steve hsu said...

I think they are experimenting.

Jorg_Haider said...

the Grey Lady

This hasn't been a valid sobriquet for the NYTs since it started using color photographs, but what can be expected?

Ching, chong, ling, long, ping, pong!

Shawn said...

The New Beta Times paywall, which cost $40 million to develop, can be thwarted with a one-click bookmarklet.


I have also found that you can just do a good search for the title of the article to avoid the existing paywall.

DK said...

OK, I found what in my browser prevented the paywall from working. This ought to be the easiest way to defeat NYT pay scheme. In Firefox: network.http.sendRefererHeader integer type set to 0. As soon as I changed it to 1, the paywall came into existence right after 20th click. Deleted cookies, changed back to 0 - ta-da! - paywall disappears.

steve hsu said...

They spent $40 million on that? :-)

DK said...

If they spent any less, they probably would have felt that they didn't do the best job possible... Some guy on the top simply did not want to hear that the same lame job could have been accomplished for about $10K.

In reality, what they want to achieve is simply impossible as long as IPs are dynamic and as long as they are not allowed to plant a file on your computer that you cannot delete.

steve hsu said...

Yes, it will be interesting to see how it evolves. Considering how easy it appears to avoid the paywall they might be disappointed in the number of subscribers.

Do subscribers still see ads? Not so long ago people would have complained about paying a fee and having to see ads.

Kevin Babcock said...

The New York Times paywall is very much like another venerable tool for newspaper sales: the newspaper vending machine. Its level of security it simple to circumvent. One can insert into the slot enough coins to purchase a single paper and take them all. But it works. Most people only need one paper, and a combination of people's honesty and guilty consciences keep the vending machine as an effective system for selling papers. I see the paywall as a similar device.

Mei Tofu said...

You can use Tor to bypass paywall

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