Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Testing the Toronto Star paywall.


Today I read that the Toronto Star had introduced a new paywall to their site.  This I applaud, because it's a step in the right direction - producing content is expensive, and someone needs to pay for it.

There's just one problem - I spent about 10 minutes poking this paywall, and it's not very hard to circumvent it in it's current form.

The first thing I noted is this supposed "10 free articles" seems to be a lot more.  It could be that to trigger a view impression you need to go below the fold, or to the bottom of the page, but my random clicking through articles seems to allow me to view at least double the supposed amount.  

The second thing I noticed is that if I expire my 10 free articles, then going into "Privacy mode" in my browser gained another "7 remaining" articles (they say 7, but again, I went something like 12 or 13 more before that expired).

The third thing I noticed was that turning off JavaScript then totally chopped the paywall off at its knees.  A further ten minutes of browsing around didn't raise any further restrictions.

Conclusion:
If they're going to make this work, they need to move the lock from the client side to the server side.  What they've done is taken a bank vault approach, and then placed the vault on the sidewalk instead of in the bank.

That needs to be remedied immediately.