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Ryan
Ryan

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Why are paywalls so weak?

As part of my day job I've been investigating (soft) paywall implementation.

As I poke at various influential sites I'm finding all of them are very soft. When a user is logged out, they all seem to be using localStorage with simple integer counters, or sometimes json with a record of the articles read.

Obviously there are serious technical, privacy and (possibly) legal challenges to tracking logged out users. And I would never want sites to implement something like that.

But why don't more site force user login immediately?

With tracking limited to localStorage, users can bypass the wall by switching to incognito, switching browser or clearing cache; and often these steps are less onerous than actually signing up for an account.

Why don't publisher care?

Discussion (6)

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ben profile image
Ben Halpern

With tracking limited to localStorage, users can bypass the wall by switching to incognito

I'd guess the average web user doesn't have the slightest clue about how they might do this. Even the part of switching to incognito, which seems low stakes may not be obvious.

Furthermore, in certain mobile contexts it might be even less obvious or even impossible.

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siriniok profile image
Vladyslav Siriniok

Probably, because the content must be indexed by search engines. Mandatory login would prevent that.

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pavelloz profile image
Paweł Kowalski

Well, there are ways to expose content to robots and not people.
Easy to work around, but still harder than clearing LS ;)

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siriniok profile image
Vladyslav Siriniok

Yes, but Google required to show the same content to robots and people in the past... I'm not sure if that's still a thing though.

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Ryan Author

I'm inclined to agree with you. I'm wondering if anybody has ever published stats/studies that quantify this. It would be nice to give our stakeholders something more concrete than "...well that's how everybody else is doing it."