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They don't "block access by tor". They blocked the particular exit node that you were using, probably because abuse originated from it. I just managed to access the site via Tor fine.

I guess I've been very unlucky in my exit node selection then, the last few times I've tried to access arxiv through tor I've gotten a 403.

It's very common for sites to use third-party blocklists, and all those lists compete on number of blocked addresses so they all include tor. So lots of sites are not accessible through tor. I'm glad if arxiv is not one of them, though it sounds like their blocking system is a bit overprotective.

I wish these sites would just give read-only access instead of blocking access to content.

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