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Ask HN: Why HN lets sharing content that is behind a paywall e.g. WSJ?
9 points by milkers 9 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 13 comments
I frustrate when I clicked to a title or entry and when I go to the tab I see that I need to pay for a subscription to see the content. I think this creates a great struggle in an open community like HN.

True, although I wouldn't like prohibiting paywalls. Maybe displaying [Paywall] next to the title would be a solution?

The domain is visible next to the submission. Tags like [video] and [pdf] are useful when it isn't completely obvious but the WSJ domain is already strong enough of an indication to check the comments for alternatives imho if that's something you need.

That wouldn't be appropriate because articles with hard paywalls aren't allowed on HN.

If it's on the front page of HN, it's a signal that the article can be accessed by anyone.

It may need a workaround, which someone will post in the comments.

If no workaround exists (e.g. using http://archive.is/ or https://outline.com/), the article should be flagged and removed from the front page.

The FAQ covers this:


Yep, that convention could have really worked.

This topic gets questioned/debated weekly, including most times a paywalled article gets on the front page.

It is answered in the FAQ [1] and re-iterated frequently by dang.

Paywalled pages are OK if a bypass is available. If there is one, usually someone will post it in the comments.

If nobody has yet, you could try viewing the article in http://archive.is/ or https://outline.com/, and if it works, share the link here.

If no paywall bypass is available, the item should not be on HN, so you should flag it.

[1] https://news.ycombinator.com/newsfaq.html

Can I make a feature request to have the non paywalled version as a separate link next to the post? Seems like there are a fair number of sites that this could be generated for automatically(wsj etc.)

I can think of several reasons - some to do with tech implementation and some to do with things like dimplomacy with publishers and copyright issues - why it would be better for this to be handled organically by the community.

I know the status quo seems imperfect; it absolutely is, but thoughtful consideration always leads to the conclusion that the status quo is the least-worst of the available options.

People w subscriptions should just copy and paste the articles in the comments

Because some valuable content may cost money to access. FWIW, at least many/most U.S. library systems let you access such paywalled content for free, so I recommend getting yourself a library card if you're in the U.S. :).

Let me be the devil's advocate and ask: Why should paywalled content be penalized?

By presenting a barrier to entry for accessing the content, the volume of discussion is reduced since a smaller portion of the community can get to it. This is particularly undesirable when a free alternative may exist.

The quality of the discussion may also reduce, as the non-subscribers can only respond to commenters without benefit of context of the original material.

Should enough of these posts exist, the effects could impact the community at-large; resulting in a decrease in diversity of opinion, and the popularity and relevance of HN as a site. This, in turn, could give rise to, or cause a traffic shift towards, more open competitors.

from OP:

> I frustrate when I clicked to a title or entry and when I go to the tab I see that I need to pay for a subscription to see the content. I think this creates a great struggle in an open community like HN.

Don't have an answer for why but usually when I find a paywall, I paste the link on either archive.org or archive.is and find the article without paywall. archive.org often works better.

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