Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Hitting a (pay)wall with ESPN Insider

After over a week of trying, I can now comfortably (albeit, very irritably) say that I cannot find a good way around ESPN Insider's paywall.

But all is not lost.  As with any failed attempt at doing something, I've gained some insight on what doesn't work.  And so I feel it's only fair to share that consolation prize with you fine people.

Things I've learned from trying to hack ESPN Insider, but failing:

1. ESPN isn't stupid.  They have a lot of good coders there, and they don't make dumb mistakes.  For instance, unlike with the New York Times or the Wall Street Journal, they don't accidentally include a URL in their meta tags or script tags which points a person to full version of their for-pay articles.  Meaning, it's impossible to find their article online for free.

2. I can't figure out how or when they populate the article content.  I thought it might be as simple as calling a web service and getting the content that way, but it's not.  Or maybe it is, but i haven't succeeded in identifying where that web service is called and when.

3. Faking being a user through some nifty javascript/jquery doesn't do a damn thing. I'm pretty sure copying a registered user's cookie would solve all my issues, but that's no different than just stealing username/password info.  That's cheating.

And that's it.  I encourage anybody out there to pick up where I left off, and hopefully succeed where I failed.  As for me, I'm giving up.  This site made me waste a week, and that pisses me off.  So I gotta' move on.

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