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Chrome extension lets you read Quora without logging in (github.com)
55 points by BenjaminCoe on Aug 7, 2012 | hide | past | web | favorite | 50 comments

Google, and the other search engines, should develop a standard that allows a page to tell the search engine if it does this kind of thing. More generally, it should be able to tell the search engine which of these categories the page falls under:

• Freely readable with no need to register. E.g., Stack Exchange.

• Site requires login, but accounts are generally free. E.g., Quora.

• Site requires login, accounts are not necessarily free. E.g., Wall Street Journal.

• Per article fee. E.g., many scientific journals.

• Content not actually available online. E.g., many hits on Google Books, where they have excerpts of the book online so you can find it via search, but to actually get the full content you have to by the physical book.

Users could then choose to exclude some categories from their search results, or to have some shown ahead of others.

How could google index a page if the page requires an account to view? I'm pretty sure googlebot has no such account. Surely such pages are invisible to google.

Somewhat related, the hidden answers on Quora are always visible/indexable in the page source (on occasion that's how I've read answers without signing in and without downloading an extension)

Many forums give read-only access to Google and other search engines so that they can be indexed without requiring an account, sometimes by UA or IP range.

It's called cloaking when a bot gets one version of the site and a normal user gets a different page. This can be done based on user agent or IP.

Then it might be possible to bypass paywalls by reading from google's cached version.

You're assuming sites like experts-exchange, which use SEO to lure in users with hidden answers to questions, will actually provide this data?

You could just crowd source it. When you quickly back out of a page from Google, it offers to "Block all Pages from somedomain.com". This could easily be repurposed to also garner additional details about the site.

why should anyone install an extension to read a website that obviously does not care about the (life)time of it's visitors.

just stop reading quora and stop clicking on quora links (especially in the google SERPs) and the problem will solve itself.

To be honest, my goal with this extension was to raise awareness about Quora obfuscating answers for anonymous visitors ala Experts Exchange.

Most contributors on Quora don't know that their content is being presented this way. (According to Quora's ToS, the submitter's content is their own.)

Suggested rename: Because Fuck Quora

It's probably worth using now that they publish everything you read as well.

Worth noting that you can opt out of that.

Yeah but it's one of those subtle privacy invasions that you have to realize has occurred before you can opt out, and most people will never see the "X viewed this" link tucked away at the bottom of the page.

you definitely succeded

There's actually a lot of really great, interesting content on Quora. I wish I could stop clicking, but when I see them in search results or get their emails, I know that whatever content is on the other side is likely to be good. I actually have a Quora account, too, but I don't understand why I need to log in to read something. Lately my strategy has just been to edit the CSS in the inspector.

This isn't to say I like Quora. I can't wait for someone to come along and fucking destroy them, and take their excellent userbase with them.

I typically just want the answer to my question when I Google something.

block quora pages from your google results. problem solved.

I don't understand why any websites do things like this. Yesterday I tried visiting a link someone had tweeted for fab.com, only to find I had to sign up before I could view it[0]. Does this technique actually work for building a customer base? It actively drives me away, that's for sure.

[0] For fob's sake, you can't even view their Contact Us page without signing up: http://fab.com/contact-us/

Same situation for other sites like that (Gilt Groupe, The Clymb, etc.). Even as a registered user, if I'm on a new device (especially mobile) and I click on a link through an email and I can't see those products, I'm not going to log in to buy. I've played that game countless times and I truly don't understand it. There's nothing "exclusive" about it. If you don't have an account, that's as exclusive as it gets, but at least show me what I'm missing.

I found this great little jQuery bookmarklet generator from Ben Alman:


You can just paste this code in and generate yourself a bookmarklet to reveal the quora answers (should work on all browsers).


Let's see if HN allows this long link directly to the generated bookmarklet:


Yeah, there's nothing magical about the actual implementation (there are a couple more lines in the repo, though).

The Chrome extension is nice because it automatically executes on quora.com (and not elsewhere). Install and forget.

The extension won't install for me but it is easy enough to follow his link to the user script that inspired 80% of the extension and just use that. Also easy enough to add the missing 20% as well. Great idea. I had noticed last week just how easy it was to manipulate the CSS on Quora to do this. Glad some people took the time to roll something up for the rest of us. I seem to be finding myself linked here more recently. :/

Shitty. Any clues as to what happened? I just removed and reinstalled via the Chrome store without any trouble.

Probably that I'm using RockMelt and not Chrome. I don't know enough about extensions to even make a guess at why some work in RockMelt and some don't.

Erm... I am not getting any "spectacles" and I am not logged in. I don't even have an account with Quora.

Here's what I see - http://imgur.com/m9G1Q

What am I missing?

I get the blurred answers 100% of the time if you arrive at Quora via a Google search. Try this URL:


Also, the first answer is always clear - they blur subsequent answers.

Ah, so you only get those blurred answers if you come from a search engine. That's the first time I see it in action. I have javascript disabled so I get an opaque block over the answer.

I don't from that link; just a big green "Sign Up" button at the top and unblurred answers below

All the answers were blurred after loading for me.

What browser are you using and do you have javascript enabled?

My friend and I believe that this is part of Quora's A/B testing.

(I got the blur, while my friend could see everything.)

That is a very sensible guess. I am too now getting the blur.

Wasn't this the first time "Quora fucked up"? Why is everyone being so harsh instead of waiting for what they are going to say about it?

I'm curious to what they have to say about having to email them (and waiting 24h) in order to delete your account.

You can just highlight the blurred text on Quora to read it. No extension required.

Doesn't work for me in Chrome: http://imgur.com/OAwSY.png

Or Firefox: http://i.imgur.com/wv7JJ.png

Works for me on both Chrome and Firefox. These are the Windows versions though, so YMMV. What does Ctrl-A do?

Ah, I was using OS X.

Exactly. CTRL-a. Done.

no support for Chromium on xubuntu 12.04?

Patches are welcome.

I wish google would block quora if theyre going to pull this crap like expertsexchange does... it adds no value

But why? Genuine question. What has quora done that is block worthy? Matt cuts made a video on google webmasters channel on why expertexchangd is not blocked. I am on phone so cant paste link. You should check it out.

It's on the same level as putting content on the page in a 1pt white-on-white font. Sure, the content is technically there, but humans can't read it.

Expert sex change at least has the content on the page, unadulterated, after you scroll past a bunch of ad blocks. Totally different from what Quora does.

I haven't been directed to expert sex change in sometime, perhaps because of Stack Overflow, but unless they've changed, expert sex change is deceptive, they don't say "real answers below ads", they provide answers that make it look as though you need to register, then the provide a crap ton of ads then the real answers. I'd say they are somewhat different from Quora, but not necessarily any less deceptive. I'd say they are gaming Google.

Yea - at least the answers are on the page. Quora is 100% filtered cannot view. They should be banned from the index.

EE used to hide the actual answers until you signed up, but it hurt their SEO. (I think there was a temporary scandal where they showed the Googlebot different pages but it got fixed.)

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