Using Wikipedia during the blackout

Wednesday. 18 January 2012. 08:30 UTC
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Today Wikipedia is blacking out its entire english catalog (aside from the following links) to protest SOPA and PIPA. This is a worthy thing for Wikipedia to do, however, it can leave us information seekers in the lurch. We wrote this quick bookmarklet to unblock Wikipedia and we hope you find it useful. Just drag the following link to your browser’s bookmarks bar:

Unblock Wikipedia

Now load up any “dark” page on Wikipedia—for example, Devo’s discography—and click your new Unblock Wikipedia bookmarklet. You will see the black overlay disappear and the original content restored. (Tested in Chrome, Safari, Opera, and Firefox for OS X.)

How does it work? Wikipedia is still serving up its content, but it’s configuring those content pieces to be invisible. When you load up a topic page you’ll actually see the content payload appear for just a fraction of a second before it realizes it should be invisible. Here’s the code that the bookmarklet uses to hide the dark overlay and reveal that content payload:

javascript:(function(){$('#mw-sopaOverlay').hide();$('#mw-page-base,#mw-head-base,#content,#mw-head,#mw-panel,#footer').show();})();

If you found this post useful give us a retweet on Twitter. You can also live chat about the Wikipedia blackout in the Chatttr: Wikipedia Blackout room. Please note, the Wikipedia blackout protest is not a strike in the traditional sense. (How could it be when the majority of Wikipedia’s essence is the result of free crowd-sourced labor? Are you personally on strike right now as a Wikipedia contributor? If you are on strike, what does your strike entail?) The protest is a grab for media attention (one that we support) in order to alert and educate as many people as possible about the dangers of SOPA and PIPA before these measures can be snuck into law. Finding a way around the blackout is not “being a scab” or devaluing the protest.

Wikipedia agrees: Our purpose here isn’t to make it completely impossible for people to read Wikipedia, and it’s okay for you to circumvent the blackout. We just want to make sure you see our message. This is why they honor a page request by sending the actual content, superficially marked as “invisible” rather than send a page with no content other than the protest message. As a result of their protest’s architecture a user can disable JavaScript or merely hit Escape before the protest script loads, bypassing the blackout overlay altogether. But you have to be quick. If you forget to hit Escape, or if you’re just not fast enough, you’ll have to reload the page and try again. As that’s all a bit annoying anyway having the above bookmarklet is still helpful.

Warm regards to the following sites for linking to this blog post:
Gawker. What Even Non Nerds Need to Know About SOPA.
Print Magazine. Black Out.
Poynter Institute. How to access Wikipedia during Wednesday’s SOPA blackout.


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Tags. hack, JavaScript