Skip to: Content
Skip to: Site Navigation
Skip to: Search


SOPA blackout: How to get around the Wikipedia protest

Wikipedia imposed a SOPA blackout today, redacting its English encyclopedia in protest of the US bill. Don't worry. Here are five ways to get around the blackout.

By / January 18, 2012

Wikipedia imposed a SOPA blackout today to protest the House bill. Fret not. You can get around the blockade.



Wikipedia went dark Wednesday. The online encyclopedia blacked out almost all of its English entries in protest of the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), which is currently working its way through the US House of Representatives.

Skip to next paragraph

Recent posts

"Right now, the U.S. Congress is considering legislation that could fatally damage the free and open Internet," says the website. "For 24 hours, to raise awareness, we are blacking out Wikipedia."

This SOPA blackout is a bold stand, but it doesn't cut off Wikipedia altogether. If you rely on the encyclopedia for quick answers, here are five ways to get around the protest.

1) Use your phone

The SOPA blackout doesn't affect Wikipedia's mobile edition.

You can actually take advantage of this trick on PCs, as well. When faced with Wikipedia's "Imagine a World Without Free Knowledge" blackout page, take a look at the Web address. They all start the same way – with the letters "en" and then a dot, signifying that the page is written in English. For example, the Wikipedia page on the Monitor is:

You can switch this to the mobile version by adding just two characters, an "m" and another period. Like so:

That's all it takes. Wikipedia attached a black box to the top of each mobile page, so you can still learn why the website opposes SOPA. But the rest of the text will appear as normal – although the formatting may look a little weird, since it's designed for smart phones, not computer monitors.

2) Turn off Javascript

Every major Web browser offers some way to turn off Javascript, a coding language used to make websites more interactive. For its protest, Wikipedia uses Javascript to show you your desired page for just a moment before the blackout takes over. If you turn off Javascript, then the black screen will not appear.

Remember to turn Javascript back on when you're done. If you forget, other websites may act a little strangely.

3) Download all of Wikipedia

This is easier said than done. The online encyclopedia offers a way to download every Wikipedia page, picture, link, and even every user edit. However, this process takes a really long time. "Because of the size of some files (TERAbytes), downloads can take days, or even weeks, NOT including queueing time for your request," says Wikipedia. It estimates that downloading every English article will take 8 to 9 days.


Read Comments

View reader comments | Comment on this story

  • Weekly review of global news and ideas
  • Balanced, insightful and trustworthy
  • Subscribe in print or digital

Special Offer


Doing Good


What happens when ordinary people decide to pay it forward? Extraordinary change...

Danny Bent poses at the starting line of the Boston Marathon in Hopkinton, Mass.

After the Boston Marathon bombings, Danny Bent took on a cross-country challenge

The athlete-adventurer co-founded a relay run called One Run for Boston that started in Los Angeles and ended at the marathon finish line to raise funds for victims.

Become a fan! Follow us! Google+ YouTube See our feeds!