Ever followed a link to a news story only to plow into an annoying registration wall? Back in the old days (like, five or six years ago) there was the cypherpunks hack
— try “cypherpunks” for both the user ID and the password; if that wasn’t already registered, then register with those values. There were complications — if the site didn’t allow a password that was the same as the user ID, “writecode” was the traditional alternative password. Then some sites caught on and started blocking that ID, so people started using “cpunks”, and with four possible combinations to try, it got unwieldy.
Next step: a common clearing house of ID/password combos — BugMeNot
! Pretty handy, especially if you install the Firefox extension
, or the MSIE extension
. [Note: I’ve modified that copy of the bookmarklet, adding “www.” to the bugmenot.com domain name; it wouldn’t work without it. Must be a side-effect of the host move.]
Not that it’s a perfect solution. Various news sites have been spidering BugMeNot’s content, and then dropping those IDs from their registration databases. Sometimes it takes two or three tries to get a password that works. But still, a decent solution.
(And no, they aren’t sharing credit card info or anything like that. BugMeNot has a firm policy
of only storing passwords for free sites. Any pay site can send them email asking to be removed/blocked from their database.)
Then, tragedy! BugMeNot was gone!
For several days news sites like LAtimes.com had to go without my eyeballs. Turns out someone had pressured BugMeNot’s web host
to shut the site down.
But now they’re back, hosted on NearlyFreeSpeech.net
. And there’s a discussion going in that Mozilla forum
on how to improve the service — decentralize it, publish in XML format, etc.