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[ NNSquad ] New York Times paywall oddities abound

New York Times paywall oddities abound
http://j.mp/hpAbzE  (This message on Google Buzz)

 - - -

Early experiments with the New York Times paywall suggest that
oddities abound.

Various reports are indicating that:

 - Deleting New York Times cookies resets the article count
   [briefly tested, inconsistent results]

 - Running in "private" or "incognito" windows bypasses the count
   [not tested]

 - Referred links (as previously discussed) are not blocked (but
   still count against your quota) unless they come via a Google
   service, in which case a limit of 5 articles a month is applied,
   reportedly even for links from Google Buzz and Google Reader,
   not just from Google Search -- which seems inequitable on its face
   [partially tested, appears confirmed so far]

 - Paywall appears to be dependent on JavaScript 
   [tested and apparently confirmed] 
   Testing so far indicates that for users who routinely
   disable JavaScript or specifically disable JS for NYTimes, the
   paywall code apparently is not activated. E.g., this configuration
   appears to block the paywall (but still enable most videos to play
   properly): http://j.mp/h6rObO (Google Buzz)

I am *not* recommending *any* of these methods as mechanisms to
purposely avoid paying for New York Times materials.  However, most of
these techniques (cookies and JavaScript limitations, etc.) above are
routinely already employed by many Internet users due to
security/privacy concerns totally unrelated to paywalls of any kind.

This appears to create the bizarre situation where large numbers
of persons will never hit the paywall simply due to their routine
browser settings, while others will reach the paywall limits
in short order.

I believe that it could be persuasively argued that all of this
complexity is creating a fundamentally unfair paywall environment,
that is likely to confuse many users.

Lauren Weinstein (lauren@vortex.com): http://www.vortex.com/lauren
Co-Founder: People For Internet Responsibility: http://www.pfir.org
 - Network Neutrality Squad: http://www.nnsquad.org
 - Global Coalition for Transparent Internet Performance: http://www.gctip.org
 - PRIVACY Forum: http://www.vortex.com
Member: ACM Committee on Computers and Public Policy
Blog: http://lauren.vortex.com
Twitter: https://twitter.com/laurenweinstein 
Google Buzz: http://j.mp/laurenbuzz 
Quora: http://www.quora.com/Lauren-Weinstein
Tel: +1 (818) 225-2800 / Skype: vortex.com