MSN Tech & Gadgets blog

How to beat the Wikipedia blackout

Bring the facts back with one quick change to your browser settings

By Nik Taylor 18/01/2012 13:09
Head over to Wikipedia today and you won't find the random fact you were looking for. Instead, you'll see a black page explaining why Wikipedia is currently unavailable.
The English language version of Wikipedia is currently blacked out. (image © Wikipedia)The English-language version of the website has been taken down for 24 hours in protest against two anti-piracy laws currently being debated by the US Congress.

But although Wikipedia is hidden behind a blackout page for the day, it's not completely disappeared.

One page of the site remains accessible - an article which explains what the protest is about and what the anti-piracy bills (known as Sopa and Pipa) could mean for internet users.

On that page, Wikipedia also explains how others can join the protest and states, "Our purpose here isn't to make it completely impossible for people to read Wikipedia, and it's okay for you to circumvent the blackout. We just want to make sure you see our message."

As Wikipedia says, there are ways to continue using the site today and it's actually very easy to do so. For one thing, Wikipedia has not blacked out its mobile version - so if you run a search on a smartphone with internet access, you can browse the site in full.

If you're trying to browse the desktop version, you just need to make a quick change to your web browser. As Sophos spokesman Graham Cluley points out on his excellent blog, Wikipedia's blackout is achieved using JavaScript.

Cluley goes on to show how Firefox users can get around the blackout using the NoScript add-on.

But if you're on Internet Explorer, it's just as easy to get back into Wikipedia. First, open up the 'Internet options' box. In IE9, this means clicking on the Tools icon at the top right of your window, then clicking on Internet options.

Internet options in IE9 (image © Microsoft)Now click on the Security tab and click on the Restricted sites icon. Click on the Sites button to open the Restricted sites window. Type into the box at the top (if you're on the Wikipedia page, this will already be filled in).

Now click the Add button, then Close, then OK. And that's it. Adding Wikipedia to your list of restricted sites blocks it from running scripts, so all those handy facts are once again at your fingertips.

All the facts: why Wikipedia has shut down today
18/01/2012 14:42
Nik Taylor, you should be ashamed of yourself. Just because you can get around it, doesn't mean you should. Wikipedia has done this for a perfectly legitimate cause, and you're just shrugging that off for some blog traffic. You should be joining the cause, not blowing it off.
18/01/2012 14:35

Why is a site like MSN undermining a perfectly justified protest.

Apart from the fact it's just rude, it's also harming M$ credibility

18/01/2012 15:01
This is disgusting! The entire point of Wikipedia's black out is to show people what it would be like to NOT be able to use the internet in the way that they would like. You are completely undermining the entire protest. Do you not understand that if SOPA and PIPA are passed, I could, by simply posting a link to a copyright infringement website in YOUR comment boxes, make YOU eligible for a lawsuit? This is about internet restriction. You should be supporting Wikipedia not encouraging your users to get around the blackout. Shame on you.
18/01/2012 16:45
Why not do a report on why there "on strike" and not how to "beat" them....shame on you msn.
18/01/2012 15:13
Not clever, MSN. 

Wikipedia are not the enemy - they're the good guys.

They don't charge anything for their great info site ( though they've been seeking donations for years - I wonder how many do support them financially?)

If you are happy to use the site on a regular basis - you should be happy to support them in this protest - for just 1 day! (unless that's the only place you get all your knowledge from?)
18/01/2012 16:23

If you actually clicked on the learn more part of the blackout page, Wikipedia gives clear instructions on how to bypass the page. They are not trying to stop you accessing Wikipedia just raise awareness of the bill.


MSN sorry but this is a pointless article.

18/01/2012 17:49

It is a very sad day when, a trusted and a well respected site like MSN, has decided to be very selective in allowing people to comment. They have decided in their own wisdom or through political pressures, to stop people commenting on very serious and important issues, such as; unemployment, our constant interference in other countries affairs, Euro problems, Bankers bonuses and most importantly--the dismemberment of NHS through devious means by the current government.

For the last two months, we have been deprived from voicing our concerns in an open forum. One can comment on silly topics like Eastenders or on some one who you have not heard before.


18/01/2012 16:37
Come guys! This article is absolute rubbish, and cos we all know that wiki are doing it for great reasons we should all share the link on Facebook. That's what i did and loads of my friends shared it!! WIKI <3 x
18/01/2012 15:35

MSN missing the point completely here!?


Hey I've found a way around the protest in Iran as well, SHOOT THE PROTESTERS!


Nik Taylor you should be ashamed!

18/01/2012 16:19
MSN... why the hell would you post this? Do you not understand they are striking for a very good reason? Your promoting that their strike is worthless if your posting this... Have some respect. They do not wish their site to be up and running today for a very good reason! 

Take this down! Have some respect! 
18/01/2012 15:01
Wikipedia have said all of this on their own website, if you click on the Learn More link it tells you all of this and that they aren't trying to disable Wikipedia but just make people aware of whats happening
18/01/2012 16:18
no no no people dont understand the dam point. if SOPA goes through there will be NO wikipedia. you will not be able to find a loophole, you will not be able to search your easy homework or get details of whatever your researching. majority of sites will go. thats when you'll all start complaining. and this just shows to me that MSN support SOPA. So I'll be changing emails very soon.
18/01/2012 15:27
I support Wiki in their protest, and wont be using any 'get around' and Im surprised MSN are not supporting them by publishing this info. Shame on you Nik Taylor
18/01/2012 19:01
I think it's shocking that MSN posted instructions on how to disable the blackout.  It's the equivalent of covering a group of protesters with a big tarpaulin.  I know Wikipedia is basically just for fun and not always reliable, and I wouldn't say that I personally have particularly strong opinions on free and open internet or the legislation in question, but the people who run Wikipedia have a right to protest, and to have their protest respected and preserved at least for the 24 hours they intended.  I don't know if the people at MSN responsible for this are reading any of these comment, but if they are, then they should know that the way they went about reporting on the "Wikipedia blackout" really isn't fair play.

I don't know if MSN has ever claimed to be a totally unbiased organisation, and whoever is at the top certainly has a right to act in the interest of his/her agenda (if they have one), but when so many people pass by your site every day, you really do have a responsibility to respect the wishes of anyone who is (as far as I can tell) just looking out for the rights of those very same masses.
18/01/2012 17:29
wikipedia themselves actually tell you how to get round it, to not hurt their readers.

This is a copy and paste job from msn.

typical lazy msn journalism.

stick to providing email services.

18/01/2012 18:09
MSN quick to provide solutions on how to beat the Wikipedia blackout, mighty slow to re-provide freedom of expression and comment on current major news items within it's own news sections.
18/01/2012 16:20
I hope you guys remember to request permission before using this image or MSN could be shut down, by the laws being protested by the website your under-miming  with this article.
18/01/2012 15:15
It is a fair and decent protest especially when information might be blocked or censored, so one should not try to hinder what is being done in a fair and proper manner. Of course one c ould disagree and should say so but not by undermining someone else's actions. Money seems to be the sole aim behind what is being proposed by the US Congress.
18/01/2012 17:45
is it not bad enough that there is no such thing as freedom of speech anymore, that they now want to take away our freedom of knowledge, personally i think the governments all round the world are as bad as each other just in different ways!!!
18/01/2012 18:59
I think MSN should not be posting articles about how to access sites that are closed for protests. It is clearly undermining Wikipedia allowing people to access the site when it supposed to be closed for a simple protest. I agree with Wikipedia and think they provide us with such a fantastic service for which they are not thanked very well. I think this protest has show how much we use Wikipedia and how badly it was missed for only one day. 
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About Nik
  • Nik TaylorNik Taylor

    Nik Taylor is a co-editor of MSN Tech & Gadgets, where he works alongside fellow editor Verity Burns to keep the site up to date.

About Verity
  • Verity BurnsVerity Burns

    Verity Burns is the co-editor of MSN Tech & Gadgets, teaming up with Nik Taylor to produce features and blogs.

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