Wednesday, January 18, 2012

How to Bypass the Wikipedia Blackout

The short answer:

Add "?banner=none" onto the end of the URL, like this:

The long answer (explains how the blackout works and the manual removal):
The Wikipedia blackout brings up a message about Internet censorship over every article you search on the site (except the article for "censorship", of course). This is to draw attention to the SOPA bill that is working its way through the U.S. Congress right now.

Visiting an article, such as "irony":

Causes this blackout message to appear after a quick moment, showing you what you're missing:

The mechanism behind this blackout is a trifecta of changes to the source code after a few seconds:

  1. A style ID is added to the <head> called "mw-sopa-blackout"
  2. All visible content on the page has an inline style applied called "display:none" which renders the content invisible
  3. The blackout message is overlayed on the page using a <div> with the ID "mw-sopaOverlay"

Getting Rid of the Wikipedia Blackout Message

You can reverse all of these changes manually by using a code editing browser plugin such as Firebug. Here's what you need to do:

  1. Open Firebug and look at the very bottom of the <head> section. Click the <style id="mw-sopa-blackout"> code and press the Delete key.
  1. Look near the top of the <body> section for <div id="content" style="display:none;">. Click the "style" part of this line and press the Delete key.

Note: The overlay text from the blackout message still exists, so step 3 is still necessary to truly remove the blackout.
  1. Go to the very bottom of the <body> section. Click the <div id="mw-sopaOverlay"> code and press the Delete key.

That's all there is to it. You can go through and remove all the "display: none;" code if you like, but the article's content should now be visible.

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