How To Work Around The Wikipedia Blackout

English-language editions of Wikipedia will be offline for 24 hours from 4pm Wednesday January 18 (Australian Eastern daylight saving time) to protest the proposed Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) in the US. If you urgently need Wikipedia content during that period, what can you do? Here are a few emergency alternatives.

Obviously, the point of the outage is to demonstrate the level of community concern over SOPA, which creates wide-ranging and poorly-defined powers against sites alleged to be involved in promoting piracy, in itself a broad catch-all. On that level, living without Wikipedia for 24 hours is a minor issue.

If you support efforts to stop the bill, then not using the site and joining in appropriate protests is the best move (and that's what I'll personally be doing). But if you are a very regular user of Wikipedia — let's say you're a researcher or a student — there are a few options you can consider over Wednesday and Thursday.

Use Google Cache or the Wayback Machine

Google stores cached copies of Wikipedia articles, and Wikipedia results are often amongst the top results for searches. So in theory you should be able to click on the cache link (which appears after you hover over a link on Google and then click the double-arrow to the right) to access it.

One issue is that Google updates its cache very regularly, so it might soon fill with blacked-out content over that day. In that happens, grabbing the URL and pasting into the Internet Wayback machine will also get you older versions of the article.

Use a foreign-language version of Wikipedia

Non-English versions of Wikipedia will be running protest banners, but not shutting down. You could grab an article from one of these (the largest are the German, French and Dutch versions) and then use Google Translate (or Chrome's automatic offer of translation) to access the content. This won't be good for detailed research if you don't already speak the language, but it could be handy for quick checking.

Cache a copy of Wikipedia for local use

We've featured a number of tools in the past for creating offline copies of Wikipedia, including WikiTaxi and Pocket Wikipedia. Installing one of these today will give you a good repository of basic information. (Note though that a backup of the English Wiki can consume 3.5GB, so you'll want to get started soon and have a reasonable download allowance.)

Research a little bit harder

Wikipedia is incredibly useful, but a good Wikipedia article is entirely referenced, pointing to sources for all its information. So if you can't rely on it to provide information, you should still be able to search for it in other sources online. It will take a little more effort, but it won't hurt your research and verification skills. If all else fails, hit your local library: there are still plenty of reference books there. Picture by katykat

Tweak the site

Now the blackout is live, there are some more options: •Because the blackout diverts using JavaScript, you can avoid it by disabling JavaScript, using a script-blocking extension or hitting ESC as soon as the page loads. •The mobile site isn't affected, so if you edit the address to begin with 'en.m.wikipedia.org' rather than 'en.wikipedia.org', you'll be able to see the relevant article.

I'll state it again: if you support Wikipedia's protest, then not using the site and joining in the protest activity is what you should be doing. These are back-up strategies (and none of them break the law).


Comments

    The blackout will be done via javascript, disable javascript (or use noscript), and you should be able to access it (although, editing will still be disabled via other means).

    what will the google doodle point to on D Day???

    That screenshot of the Wikipedia blackout page shows a 'or continue to Wikipedia' link so if it's legitimate, then it's safe to assume that it'll be like just another one of Jimmy's fundraising banners, but a bit more annoying.

      If it were that simple, would the article have had any reason to include all this?

      No, that was an early prototype (when there was still support for a "soft" blackout). The idea is this will be a proper blackout.

    What are we going to use to resolve arguments about silly facts while drinking at the pub tonight ... For the next 24 hours (from 4pm) it's going to be like drinking in the 90's again, when an argument about Cool Runnings not being a factual representation of the real Jamaican Blobsled team could last for hours!

    Answers.com has Wikipedia articles, it's what I've used in the past when Wikipedia was down.

    Won't Google be going down during the shutdown as well? Thus making Google's Caching of websites useless?

      Google and Facebook are not participating in this protest.

    Use the CoralCDN service by adding .nyud.net after wikipedia.org.
    http://www.coralcdn.org/

    The Resurrect Pages add-on to has easy access to cached versions from web services.
    https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/resurrect-pages/

    Or press stop on the browser after the normal page loads but before the blackout page loads over it!

      I tipped lifehacker that about an hour ago :D We think alike.

      That's what I was about to say!

    I wrote a work around a couple minutes ago: execute the following javascript code in your browser. (either "javascript:" in address bar or some add on/developer tool)

    arr=["mw-page-base","mw-head-base","content","mw-head","mw-panel","footer","mw-sopaOverlay"];for(i=0;i<arr.length;i++)document.getElementById(arr[i]).style.display = (i == arr.length -1)?"none":"block"; chrome=1;

    Disable Javascript. Pretty difficult I know.

    The muppets left their mobile site up!

      @Watson - They know that. They're protesting, but there's no need for them to completley shut down Wikipedia to do that.

    Works on Wikipanion on my iPhone...

    But then again, we can assume that most of those 'tech savvy' enough to get around the blackout, have been exposed somewhat to information/news about SOPA, and possibly already have an opinion. I think this isn't necessarily the group in which The Wikimedia Fdn are trying to create awareness

    I just used lynx (linux command line browser) and it worked fine.

    Guys. Press escape before the page loads completely. That would prevent the javascript from executing.

    Not sure if this has been posted yet but just put in ?banner=none at the end of the wiki url and itll work

    Or use the mobile version of wikipedia, its not blacked out. Insert an 'm' (en.m.wikipedia.org/..........)

    Just press escape once the information page is loaded that's it.. :)

    http://amanrulesit.blogspot.com

    1.go to the wanted wiki page
    2.copy it's source
    3.paste it to any html editor
    4.???
    5.profit

    Pretty easy, just paste this at the end of each wikipedia URL: ?banner=none

    This works for me (IE9):
    Go to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Main_Page
    Right click on blackout page and 'Translate with Bing'
    It will translate English to ...English, but no Javascript!!!

    1. Firefox
    2. NoScript
    3. Forbid wikimedia.org
    4. Profit

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