Illegitimi non carborundum...
August 18, 2004 5:25 PM   Subscribe

bugmenot.com is a casualty. It's gone. No word as to why, how or when. Buh'bye to another great subversion of the corporate web.
posted by dash_slot- (49 comments total)
 
Maybe they're just having server problems?...
posted by punishinglemur at 5:32 PM on August 18, 2004


If this is indeed the case, perhaps we need some sort of distributed system to do what bugmenot did.

Bugmenet!
posted by insomnia_lj at 5:35 PM on August 18, 2004


Maybe they're just having server problems?

did you click the link? the server is working fine. the directory is empty.
posted by quonsar at 5:38 PM on August 18, 2004


It's still working, you just need the password to log in and access everything.

Oh wai...
posted by tapeguy at 5:41 PM on August 18, 2004


crap... I noticed yesterday the page wouldn't load. I thought it was just me.
posted by leotrotsky at 5:42 PM on August 18, 2004


game over, man. it must have been that corporate registration bit they just did. the dark internet publishing powers that be will not let you login/login! or cpunks/cpunks!
posted by mrgrimm at 5:46 PM on August 18, 2004


did you click the link? the server is working fine. the directory is empty.

it's not showing me an empty directory, it's showing me a cannot find server page.
posted by t r a c y at 5:48 PM on August 18, 2004


It shows me an empty directory.
posted by eustacescrubb at 5:50 PM on August 18, 2004


I'm jittering and sweating and hyperventilating already. Please - there must be an alternative?
posted by CunningLinguist at 5:51 PM on August 18, 2004


Did anyone ever take them up on their offer to create a mirror?
posted by bcwinters at 5:58 PM on August 18, 2004


I had noticed over the past few weeks that most of their logins were not working anymore on major media sites (WaPo, NYT, etc.).

I figured they had someone obsessively clicking for all the bugmenot accounts so they could block them.
posted by karmaville at 6:00 PM on August 18, 2004


if some people are getting a blank directory and others are getting nothing at all, my guess is they are changing servers and are not dead just yet.
posted by mathowie at 6:11 PM on August 18, 2004


I had noticed over the past few weeks that most of their logins were not working anymore on major media sites

i noticed that as well, and i figured the same, but wouldn't it be easier for corporate sites to invalidate any accounts that come in from more than X number of IP addresses?
posted by mrgrimm at 6:20 PM on August 18, 2004


quonsar: Yes.
posted by punishinglemur at 6:25 PM on August 18, 2004


It's been down for a few days at least. But it shouldn't be too hard to recreate, for someone with the bandwidth.

WHen I noticed it was down, I thought about alternatives, and one is to just propagate the following idea:

If site http://www.crappynews.com requires registration, just login as crappynews/crappynews, if there is no such account - create a fake one with that info. If they require an email, use 'crappynews@mailinator.com' If password must be different from usename the use 'bugmenot' as the password.

It could be a kind of bugmenot protocol by mass consensus.
posted by bashos_frog at 6:27 PM on August 18, 2004


.
posted by Fezboy! at 6:37 PM on August 18, 2004


I always found BugMeNot a waste of time. I can fill in bogus info in less time and use a junk email address. Why not have someone go around and set up username "username" and a password of "password" for all these sites? Then you already know what it would be, without having to visit BugMeNot.
posted by MrAnonymous at 6:44 PM on August 18, 2004


MrAnonymous + Bashos_frog - the problem with that solution is that as soon as they see 50,000 people logging in through "username/password" or "crappynews/crappynews", they'll block that account and stop people signing up for it again.

BugMeNot was beautiful because it spread the love around a bit - it's harder to work out who's using hundreds of fake accounts than who's using one fake account.

Can I just say that I never read papers like the NYT online until Bugmenot was invented? Before that, I quite honestly couldn't be stuffed going through the sign-up process, and skipped any link I saw with "free registration required" written next to it. Smart move, fellas.
posted by Jimbob at 7:13 PM on August 18, 2004


I used the site two or three times a day (I surf a lot of small papers) and damnit I had just discovered the oh-so-cool bookmarklet. Do you guys think it will be back?
posted by CunningLinguist at 7:15 PM on August 18, 2004 [1 favorite]


There's actually a Mozilla/Firefox extension that would automatically fetch a bugmenot account whenever you needed one. Now that's a thing of beauty.
posted by George_Spiggott at 7:21 PM on August 18, 2004


So are we just waiving the fact that this is a blatant double post?
posted by banished at 7:35 PM on August 18, 2004


no, we've sent mr_crash_davis after the nipple clamps and car battery.
posted by quonsar at 7:44 PM on August 18, 2004


It's been down for a few days at least.

Uh, I used it two days ago for sure (on the blog interupted thread) and I'm pretty sure I used it yesterday as well.
posted by dobbs at 7:48 PM on August 18, 2004


The "use a standard username/password" concept is not new -- the cypherpunks movement has been doing that since before the dawn of time (plus or minus a day or so).

bugmenot works/worked because there wasn't just one account per site. It made it more difficult for them to see which were real accounts, and which were fake. As they deleted accounts, new ones were created.

Perhaps the fact that we can't access it now is a good reminder that we've been relying on a service like it and there aren't really any alternatives (other than the whole "actually registering" thing). What're you willing to do to ensure that we've always got a service like this?

(I went to post this and got a JRun error -- it's a cover-up conspiracy! :)
posted by Lionfire at 8:37 PM on August 18, 2004


NYT Random Login Generator
posted by Space Coyote at 8:45 PM on August 18, 2004


Lionfire: I did too, and if I was bothered I woulda taken a screenshot to demonstrate I got the error at status.metafilter.com again, too. My ISP must have DNS issues...

So are we just waiving the fact that this is a blatant double post?
posted by banished at 7:35 PM PST on August 18


Not really - was that a joke? When it was posted before, it was to announce it's birth.
An obituary notice so soon after is remarkable, don't you think?
Though I s'pose not many deaths are announced with the PS "probably", on second thoughts I give you that ...

posted by dash_slot- at 8:50 PM on August 18, 2004


What was bugmenot's business model anyway? I mean, how were they paying the bills?

On the other hand, as many people use fake logins, group logins, logins of other people, and make up fake identities with logins, I am forced to wonder why free news sites bother with registrations. What useful information do they really think they are getting?
posted by ilsa at 9:17 PM on August 18, 2004


Before jumping to conclusions about a media conspiracy, my first guess would be that they are having server trouble or didn't pay their server bill...
posted by mmoncur at 9:47 PM on August 18, 2004


I wonder how much work would be involved in making this a distributed service.

Hell, I would pay a small yearly fee for bugmenot. The firefox plug-in was wonderful. Just right-click and it fills in the username/password fields. Oh well, let the registration backlash continue. I really hope these news sites are keeping track of how many people see a login page and just close the window.

btw, AP/Reuters, yahoo news, and most of google news is still free with no registration.

Maybe they just gave up. Its easy to compromise an automated system. During its last days, butmenot's success rate was like 10%. I'm guessing some people took offense to it and quickly removed accounts listed or accessed by more than a few IPs. Toss in some jerks who were putting in bogus information and deleting the logins that worked, and well, here we are.

>Before jumping to conclusions about a media conspiracy

Some sites are getting pretty damned anal about sharing logins. The few logins I shared for the Chicago Tribune no longer work. The NYTimes one I memorized (some of us *gasp* use different machines without those wonderful cookies following us) don't work. And I'm not talking shared by thousands, but shared with a few friends.

The bugmenot accounts saved locally don't work anymore either.

I'm not saying there was legal action involved, but the media companies sure as hell cracked down on shared registration.
posted by skallas at 10:10 PM on August 18, 2004


Well at least adblock is still working. I realise how good that is everytime i have to use IE.
posted by PaddyJames at 3:07 AM on August 19, 2004


This is from Fezboy's title comments on his comment:

I know it's a really effing lame idea, but how about complying with their free registration requests? You get nifty news items to post to MeFi and their marketing research folks get new data to churn. How hard is it, really, to take the 30 seconds and give them a little something for the effort of regurgitating AP|UPI|KR feeds in a nifty, branded web-page?

Since June I have had to register for 382 web sites. Most of them were newspapers. That's why I fricking hate registering for web sites. It's a result of the work I do and the web site I keep which, I know, make me an atypical Internet user, but still.

What's makes it worse is newspaper groups like Real Cities. They have a crapload of newspapers on their network, yet you have to register for every single newspaper in the network separately. It's so incredibly stupid I can't even begin to comprehend how they stay in business.

They, like so many other newspapers with web sites, appear to be under the impression that 1) their audience is still local; 2) that the minimal information they are gathering is useful; 3) that anyone who is a desireable marketing target wants to receive the crappy advert-letters from their "partners"; 4) that anyone who is not in their local community will ever want to read more than one or two articles a year; 5) that anyone wants to pay more per single archived article than the newsstand cost of the paper. This last complaint is not strictly on-topic here, but it seems to go hand-in-hand with requiring registration.

At the end of the day, my biggest complaint, far and above all the others, is this: after 12 years on the Internet and thousands of registrations and forms filled out, the advertising I am seeing still does not appear to reflect my tastes, interests, previous buying habits, professional background, academic background, or income level. They have yet to successfully target me. My conclusion is that the information is being gathered only to sit on a dusty hard drive somewhere, never to be used, while the stupid marketing people continue to try to hit bees with buckshot.

Or else they are simply targeting the stupid, the ignorant, the weak, the innocent, and the naive, groups I from which I naturally exclude myself. In which case I am relieved they haven't pegged me yet.
posted by Mo Nickels at 5:21 AM on August 19, 2004 [1 favorite]


Hell, I would pay a small yearly fee for bugmenot.

But the registration at news sites is free! If you are that excited about paying a small yearly fee, how about the $20 a M-F delivery subscription to the NYT costs?
posted by ChasFile at 6:50 AM on August 19, 2004


I don't mind needing an account on NYTimes or WashPost. I read them daily and it works pretty seamlessly. It's fair that they get some tracking data out of me in exchange for the free articles.

OTOH, when someone links to an article in a podunk newspaper site I'll never go to again, I'm not going to give them my name, address, and birthday just to read it. It seems like the smaller the newspaper, the more data they want. I'll just close the browser window and say oh well.
posted by smackfu at 6:59 AM on August 19, 2004


Chas: I think the idea is that money is paid for the convenience of not having to fill in stupid %&$ forms and wasting time that could be better spend elsewhere.
posted by leotrotsky at 7:06 AM on August 19, 2004


I never understood the value of bugmenot. I just use a junk yahoo account set up for nothing but registrations and type random characters into all of the info fields. Takes no time at all and the only hassle is that every now and again I have to go into the yahoo account to clean it up. Bugmenot seemed unnecessary.
posted by rtimmel at 7:10 AM on August 19, 2004


From Mo Nickels
It's a result of the work I do ...

You're getting paid to go through free registration processes. I'm certainly glad my job isn't that degrading.

They, like so many other newspapers with web sites, appear to be under the impression that: 1) their audience is still local;

I can assure you that once you get beyond the major dailies, the primary audience of these sites is, in fact, local.

2) that the minimal information they are gathering is useful;

No effect = no harm = no foul. Personally, I am thankful that marketing departments are particularly inept. I think it would be quite troublesome if the reverse were true.

3) that anyone who is a desireable marketing target wants to receive the crappy advert-letters from their "partners";

Which is why they generally give you an opt-out. There are many ways around those who do not. My preferred is to use the domain name as an alias, complete the registration process, and then block mail from that alias. Simple, no?

At the end of the day, my biggest complaint, far and above all the others, is this: after 12 years on the Internet and thousands of registrations and forms filled out, the advertising I am seeing still does not appear to reflect my tastes, interests, previous buying habits, professional background, academic background, or income level. They have yet to successfully target me.

Which just goes to show you how harmless the registration process really is.

The facts remains:

1. you want to use their product
2. they want to gather information on who uses their product
3. these are the terms you agree to in order to use their product
4. you ought to comply (at least nominally) with their terms or
5. you ought to find alternative sources.

oh, and Or else they are simply targeting the stupid, the ignorant, the weak, the innocent, and the naive,

Thanks for the left-handed compliment.

and by way of explanation: I posted my comment as a title attribute because I knew it was a counter-prductive troll that ought not be posted at all, but I was unable to muster the restraint required to just close the window and move along.
posted by Fezboy! at 7:26 AM on August 19, 2004


Wow. I just checked and for the first time ever, my work's internet filter gave me the following message for bugmenot.com:
Access to this web page is restricted at this time.

Reason:
The Websense category "Racism and Hate" is filtered.

----------------------------------------------------------------------

URL:
http://www.bugmenot.com/
That's kind of crazy... Then again, Websense isn't known for perfectly categorized the web.
posted by elvissinatra at 8:38 AM on August 19, 2004


It seems like there is a solution that would satisfy most members of the debate, which is, a centralized identifier system. That is, you fill out your info at site X. When you go to NYT or WaPo or PodunkNews you just give your username from siteX and that's it, they fetch your demographic info from siteX and you never need to think about it again, or fill anything in. Something like bugmenot could still work, it would just give out username/passwords for siteX.
posted by RustyBrooks at 9:01 AM on August 19, 2004


Rusty, its called MS Passport. It hasn't been much of a success.
posted by PigAlien at 9:10 AM on August 19, 2004


Or, it's called Adult Check and it has been a success. I guess it's largely a matter of how bad a site wants to participate, and how bad a user wants to see content ;)

Or, it's called debit cards (which are a proxy for hundreds of banks, and the vendor doesn't need to care which, nor do you need to give all of your info to the vendor to purchase something).

Or, it's called DNS, which lets a word or two describe paragraphs of information about a site which anyone can look up.

Or it's called a drivers license, where a single number identifies you uniquely to lots of government agencies (and some public ones?)

It's a very common concept. The reason that MS Passport has not taken off is not clear to me, other than maybe that it sucks, I don't know.
posted by RustyBrooks at 9:16 AM on August 19, 2004


You're getting paid to go through free registration processes. I'm certainly glad my job isn't that degrading.

I like my job, fuck you very much.

I can assure you that once you get beyond the major dailies, the primary audience of these sites is, in fact, local.

I can assure you that any site anyone on the Internet can visit is not local. "Primarily local" is like "almost on the moon." Either you're local or on the moon, or you're not. There's no way in hell my information is in any way useful to most of these sites which require registration: I don't live in their town, I don't buy their paper, I will probably visit their site a handful of times in my life. If they are telling the truth and will not sell my information--and this has proven to be a lie more often than anyone at the DMA is willing to admit--then they're wasting my time, their resources, and everyone's bandwidth.

There are many ways around those who do not. My preferred is to use the domain name as an alias, complete the registration process, and then block mail from that alias. Simple, no?

I do the exact same thing, which is why I know that too many web sites lie about what they'll do with my info. They have two favorite tricks: 1) They change the terms of service to permit them to send email. 2) They do not include the "don't send me email" option on the registration, and don't have it come up at all during the registration process. It exists only on a separate preferences page you don't see or don't know about until they start sending you spam and include a link to it. Often, that page requires a separate registration, or worse, wants even more information from you before you can unsubscribe.

Which just goes to show you how harmless the registration process really is.

It's harmless only if you don't understand economies of scale. Many people don't; many people are stupid.
posted by Mo Nickels at 9:30 AM on August 19, 2004


Looks like BugMeNot's host pulled the plug. [via waxy]
posted by plemeljr at 9:47 AM on August 19, 2004


So did anybody ever successfully use BugMeNot to view members-only porn sites? They did indicate that doing so was possible, and in fact gave that as one of the reasons for not publishing the list of sites that had passwords in their system.
posted by etoile at 10:22 AM on August 19, 2004


There's always the Canadian mirror.
posted by DrJohnEvans at 11:05 AM on August 19, 2004


found this site via plemeljr's link. same purpose, surely more reliable, just a lot slower. let's see ... ass@dodgeit.com = qasser/mcgasser at latimes.com - golden.
posted by mrgrimm at 12:17 PM on August 19, 2004


Sorry to kick off an eppy, but we appear to be talking across one another on a few points.

I can assure you that any site anyone on the Internet can visit is not local. "Primarily local" is like...
I'm not arguing availability. What I am stating is that these podunk papers care very little about their international audience. Their primary audience is the local jeb who does visit regularly to read items of local interest. These are the folks they wish to identify and market. Unfortunately you are the stray dolphin caught in the tuna net.

[hypocracy of demographic information gatherers]
I'll not argue that many of these organizations engage in shady ethical practices. We both agree that they can be dodged with a little pre-emptive planning.

What I am arguing, and which you did not address, is that:
1. They've got something you want
2. You've got something they want
3. The transaction, as presented by them, is to trade stuff.
4. You have the following options:
     a) accept the offer
     b) decline the offer
     c) attempt to renegotiate the offer

I was merely pointing out that (a) is not completely unreasonable if their content is compelling enough--which in your case it seems to be. No matter how banal, stupid, naive, or wasteful their demands, they control access to the content they generate and can set the terms of access in any way they see fit (within acceptible legal bounds, etc). If you find that to be disagreeable, you are free to not request their content. I hate market-based justifications, but this seems pretty cut-n-dried.

Not once have I justified these sites' T&C (which I also think are inane and wasteful, btw). All I have done is frame the situation to point out that it seems painless enough. The barrier to access is hardly unbreachable. I mean, fuck, at least most papers still allow 'free' access. My own local Hick Times has gone full subscription only except for the classifieds. How's that for EvilBastardCo?

Using your 382 registrations since June 1--that breaks down to slightly over three minutes and twenty seconds per workday spent registering (382 registrations * 30 seconds per / 57 working days since June 1--assuming a US work calendar with Independence Day as time off). Personally, I spend more time every workday futzing with my coffee.

I puposely did not engage you on the topics of inconsiderate architecture (Real Cities), the utility of gathering demographic data for marketing purposes, assumptions about who wants to receive spam from their 'partners', or the pricing for archived articles because I agree with you.

BugMeNot was a swell, but ethically questionable, service. I'm certainly interested in the gory details about its disappearance, but am not surprised that it is gone. I know I should not have posted the screed at all, but I experienced a moment of weakness. At least I hid it behind a moment of silence.
posted by Fezboy! at 12:37 PM on August 19, 2004


So did anybody ever successfully use BugMeNot to view members-only porn sites? They did indicate that doing so was possible, and in fact gave that as one of the reasons for not publishing the list of sites that had passwords in their system.

damn etoile, stop trying to find a way around it. bite the bullet and pay for your porn like the rest of us.

or get it from a p2p, but you didn't hear that from me...
posted by joedan at 1:56 PM on August 19, 2004


Just thought I'd drop back by and mention that things look fine now.
posted by freebird at 10:11 AM on August 20, 2004


IT'S BACK! IT'S BACK!
posted by CunningLinguist at 10:25 AM on August 20, 2004


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