How to bypass Wikipedia’s anti-SOPA blackout in Internet Explorer

[Post updated]

On January 18, 2012, Wikipedia blacked out its website to protest some truly frightening legislation that is working its way through the U.S. Congress.

If you tried to visit a Wikipedia page that day, you would have seen this image:


But what if you get it already and you’ve contacted your lawmakers and you just really, really need to look something up? The Wikipedia protest was really just a snippet of JavaScript. All you had to do to work around it was to disable JavaScript. The technique comes in handy in other situations as well, when a site’s script is causing it to behave in unintended ways.

For that type of situation, there’s a workaround available via Internet Explorer.

  1. Open the Internet Options menu. In IE8, click Tools, Internet Options. In IE9, click the gear icon and then click Internet Options.
  2. Click the Security tab and then click the Restricted Sites icon, as shown here:SNAGHTML9182b72
  3. Click the Sitesbutton and add the main address for your region’s Wikipedia page in the box at the top, as I’ve done here for the English-language site:SNAGHTML91a1073
  4. Click Add, and then click Close.

You have now added Wikipedia to the Restricted Sites zone, where script is not allowed. And because the blackout is based on JavaScript, this trick effectively gives you access to the full site.

To remove a site from the Restricted list so it works normally, repeat the steps, but this time select the entry you added and click Remove.

For more details on SOPA and why it’s a bad thing, see this article at Wired. The good news is that it looks like the bill is dead … for now.

6 thoughts on “How to bypass Wikipedia’s anti-SOPA blackout in Internet Explorer

  1. How can people feel the significance of the loss if you give them an easy solution? The idea to give them a 12-24 hour taste of what the web could be like without Wikipedia, and other sites they tend to take for granted. Each time their habits drive them to look something up on Wikipedia, and they get the black out page, that’s a reminder of what is being threatened. The only solution is as follows: do not allow SOPA and PIPA survive as they are currently written.

    In my opinion, this JavaScript quick fix sends the wrong message, and is against the spirit of the blackout.

    1. Hey, ya know what, Matt. I get it already, and an extra 18 hours isn’t going to make me get it any more. If I wanted to punish myself I would have remained a Catholic.

      You, of course, are welcome to experience the full suffering for as long as you want.


  2. Okay, I understand your position on this. However, my concern is that your shortcut might lessen the impact of the blackout on people who may need the extra convincing – the extra suffering.

  3. I tend to get to Wikipedia from a Google search; I open search results in a new window. Yesterday I discovered quite by accident that if I opened to a Wikipedia entry and got the blackout, I could return to the Google results window and open the link as usual in another page.

    For what it’s worth, I did enter my ZIP code and click the links to get to my congresspeople’s Web sites at least once (to whom I did write), but even after doing that, I had to return to the Google results to open the link in a new window, and it worked all whopping three times I tried it. Using Firefox 9.current, but without NoScript at the time. Statistically irrelevant, of course, but it might be interesting to look at the script code, if anyone snatched a copy.

    (Can’t tell you how proud I am to be from Minnesota, where both our Senators cosponsored SOPA. Nope; how proud I am is something I just really cannot tell you.)

    — Timothy J. McGowan

  4. Oh, the anguish of acronyms! Of course, it’s PIPA that Minnesota’s senators cosponsored, not SOPA. (I also have difficulty keeping Iran and Iraq straight in my head. At least I know I’m not alone in that regard.)

    — Timothy J. McGowan

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