What's the easiest way to check if an article is paywalled?
January 13, 2022 1:23 PM   Subscribe

I wind up posting articles here or on social media that are restricted to subscribers and behind paywalls more often than I'd like. Is there an easy tool that will tell me whether or not some random person in another country with no subscription or affiliation is likely to be able to read something? Some search engine hack?

I know how to make new browser profiles and I know more than I'd like to know about SSH-tunnels and VPNs. But, I'm usually already on an academic VPN, and switching is a pain. (Often actually requiring rebooting, 'cause I have no choice but terrible cisco products.) I could set up a cheap single board computer at home just for this. . . but, that won't help with national and regional restrictions. Surely someone else has solved it already. Is there an "is this a thing others can actually read" service that I haven't found?
posted by eotvos to Computers & Internet (4 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
With respect to subscriptions, simply opening an Incognito (Chrome) or Private (Firefox) window and trying the link in question will let you know if it's a paywall.

Region locking, though, is not easily assessed.
posted by Sunburnt at 1:47 PM on January 13 [1 favorite]

Can't answer that question, but have you seen 12ft.io?
posted by bullatony at 2:32 PM on January 13 [2 favorites]

You can also post the same thing with an archive link. If you take the URL and paste it in the search box on archive.org, you'll get a link that is accessible to all.
posted by ivanthenotsoterrible at 7:33 PM on January 13 [1 favorite]

Archive Today (https://archive.fo/) does two things:
1. If you paste in the the URL of a (potentially paywalled) article then then it creates a freely available version and makes that URL available for sharing.
2. If you search for the URL of a page you are interested in - then it will let you know if somebody else has already done step 1 - and will let you know the URL.

Whether or not step 2 comes up with an existing URL is probably the best quick test of "whether the article is paywalled". Already on the list: it was almost certainly paywalled. Not yet on the list but giving you the opportunity to create a free link for others: paywalled.
posted by rongorongo at 1:09 AM on January 14 [3 favorites]

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