Experts Exchange WTF



  • So it looks like Experts Exchange has switched to a paid model, and no longer allows posted solutions to be viewed for free.

    Thus, though the questions are made available for free and in the clear, the actual answers posted to those questions aren't.  Check out, for instance, [url=http://www.experts-exchange.com/Community_Support/Announcements/Q_22375047.html]this thread[/url] announcing the new site.

    Only one problem:  though there's some CSS and Javascript veneer over it, the answers are still there.  Yes, they're garbled, but... it's ROT13.  No, not just some randomly determined substitution cipher, which would've made sense.  Not even using something like The Eater of Meaning to render it unintelligible.  The text is obscured using good old-fashioned ROT13; for those unfamiliar with that term, it simply means shifting all letters 13 places in the alphabet.

    Need I even mention how trivial it is for much of the site's audience to write a ROT13 decoder?



  • Yeah, but probably not the audience that visits to ask for help. 95% of the questions are answered by searching google, anyhow.

    I wonder if I would get a DMCA takedown notice for making a proxy website that loads the EE site and decodes the content on the fly.




  • why write your own?

    www.rot13.com

    www.rot13.org

    www.rot13.net




  • Is it just me, or is the answer also blurred out?

    @Pap said:

    Yeah, but probably not the audience that visits to ask for help. 95% of the questions are answered by searching google, anyhow.

    I wonder if I would get a DMCA takedown notice for making a proxy website that loads the EE site and decodes the content on the fly.

     
    You totally should :) 



  • I happened upon that yesterday as I was searching for some random answer.  Although, after coming across that I said 'F this' and went to the next result google had to offer.



  • @rbowes said:

    Is it just me, or is the answer also blurred out?

    Yes, thanks to some CSS trickery.  But a quick trip to View Source-- or better yet, copying and pasting-- can fix that easily.



  • If you look at the google cache of the page you can read it without the blur and ROT13... They still want answers to be indexed by google so those aren't applied for the googlebot user agent -- hence being able to view the cache perfectly



  • For me, Experts Exchange has ruined the "I Feel Lucky" button on Google.

    I use to be able to search for something and hit the IFL and I could trust that Google would find me the answer I needed.  But after two or three trips to the Experts Exchange, I had to stop using the IFL.  

    There are plenty of free answers out there, Experts Exchange is nothing but a waste of time.

     



  • Yeah, it used to be impossible to read the solutions without an account, now it's perfectly legible! A simple jaunt through FireBug and it's perfectly readable.

    Talk about seriously bad over-engineering. 



  • I also like how they have a "related solutions" section on an announcement thread.    



  • I'm assuming that free members can still read the solutions? After all, the free members get "Expert Points" by replying to questions...

    I have not used Experts-Exchange in ages. It was good in 2002-2003 or so (when I signed up), but it's just been getting worse and worse since then.



  • @Daniel15 said:

    I'm assuming that free members can still read the solutions? After all, the free members get "Expert Points" by replying to questions...

    OK, I take back what I said initially about the paid membership thing.  They still do have free membership available - but they actually hide it.

    All the "sign up" links lead directly to the premium (i.e., paid) registration form.  The only way I can find to join for free and amass points manually is to click the tiny "Read More" link under "Become an Expert" on the same sign-up page.  There's no indication whatsoever, of course, that that link has anything to do with free membership.

    ...WTF, indeed.



  • Here's the funny part. Scroll down past the blurred solutions. And past the Giant Wall Of Category Links. Way down. All the replies are there again, unobscured. So you can subscribe to avoid 3 seconds of scroll wheel action, I guess.



  • @morry said:

    why write your own?
    www.rot13.com
    www.rot13.org
    www.rot13.net

    Or use the old faithful 'rot13' command line tool available on any linux distro (part of bsdgames).

    I've always hated experts exchange for keeping answers hidden, but now I almost pity them for being so retarded in their implementation!! "Expert" exchange.. right.. but the information is routed by idiots!
     



  • @db2 said:

    Here's the funny part. Scroll down past the blurred solutions. And past the Giant Wall Of Category Links. Way down. All the replies are there again, unobscured. So you can subscribe to avoid 3 seconds of scroll wheel action, I guess.

    LOL. Wow. It's even worse than I thought. Seriously, what is the point?!

    [b]Edited to add:[/b] OK, apparently it's not that way on all posts. There are no un-ROT13ed versions of the comments on [url=http://www.experts-exchange.com/Database/Reporting_/Crystal_Reports/Q_20303867.html]this Crystal Reports post[/url], for instance (which is how I ended up discovering the WTF in the first place).



  • @lizardfoot said:

    For me, Experts Exchange has ruined the "I Feel Lucky" button on Google.

    I use to be able to search for something and hit the IFL and I could trust that Google would find me the answer I needed.  But after two or three trips to the Experts Exchange, I had to stop using the IFL.  

    There are plenty of free answers out there, Experts Exchange is nothing but a waste of time.

     

     

    Suggestion for dealing with ExpertSexChange:   add "-site:expertsexchange.com" to your Google searches.

     



  • A simple greasemonkey script would defeat this, trivially.



  • @Critter said:

    Suggestion for dealing with ExpertSexChange:   add "-site:expertsexchange.com" to your Google searches.

     

    You could probably edit your Firefox search plugins to do this sort of thing automatically, actually.



  • @Critter said:

    @lizardfoot said:

    For me, Experts Exchange has ruined the "I Feel Lucky" button on Google.

    I use to be able to search for something and hit the IFL and I could trust that Google would find me the answer I needed.  But after two or three trips to the Experts Exchange, I had to stop using the IFL.  

    There are plenty of free answers out there, Experts Exchange is nothing but a waste of time.

     

     

    Suggestion for dealing with ExpertSexChange:   add "-site:expertsexchange.com" to your Google searches.

     

     ExpertSexChange

    he he



  • @Harsh said:

     ExpertSexChange

    he he

    That's what I see too, lol. Also, seconding request for a greasemonkey script to strip the css and rot-13 the answers on the fly. 



  • @lizardfoot said:

    For me, Experts Exchange has ruined the "I Feel Lucky" button on Google.

    I use to be able to search for something and hit the IFL and I could trust that Google would find me the answer I needed.  But after two or three trips to the Experts Exchange, I had to stop using the IFL.  

    There are plenty of free answers out there, Experts Exchange is nothing but a waste of time.

     

     

    I am waiting for Google to support a 'blacklist' of domains that you don't want to see in any response.

    Or simply another checkbox next to the safesearch radiobutton on the preferences page. Something like, 'Filter paid answer web sites' 

     
     



  • except when google cache gets you the paid answer for free...



  • also PenIsland.com was funny too.



  • Their old system of "limiting" free answers was a joke too. You could always view all the posts on your first time to the site, but an account was required after that. However, a simple clearing of cookies & authentication, and boom, unlimited free answers.

     And, as someone else mentioned, sign up to become an expert, and get free answers anyway.
     




  • Just did a userstyle.



  • That seems to eliminate all the responses for me.



  • @Kemp said:

    That seems to eliminate all the responses for me.
    It leaves the ones that are worth reading. :D



  • View source will give you the answer.



  • @alias said:

    If you look at the google cache of the page you can read it without the blur and ROT13... They still want answers to be indexed by google so those aren't applied for the googlebot user agent -- hence being able to view the cache perfectly
    There are still a few sites out there that look at the user-agent to determine what they show you - is this what they're doing? I'm not on a PC where I can change the UA, nor am I inclined to go to EE anyway... Just a suggestion.



  • There's a GreaseMonkey script for this: http://userscripts.org/scripts/show/9627

    Before, I was using the Firefox extensions NukeAnything and LeetKey to remove the "gray out" image on top of the text and decode the ROT13.



  • I am always amused by the amount of effort people are willing to expend on gaining access to bad advice.



  • @asuffield said:

    I am always amused by the amount of effort people are willing to expend on gaining access to bad advice.

    Yes, but this al all because of the great minds at expertsexchange. They know IT geeks will laugh and be slightly insulted by the blurring and rot13.
    They know a lot of those geeks will spend some time breaking it. 

    Then when the geek sees that the answer they just spend 10 minutes on to decode is crap, they will be even more insulted. And perhaps a small part of those people, will be insulted enough to register (or go to bugmenot) and post the correct answer.

    and thus the system works.

     

    The problem with knowledge sites is not attracting the people who don't know, the problem is attracting the people who do know :) 



  • Well, the quality of EE varies widely by category.  The points whoring is obnoxious, but encourages fast answers.  Few things are more frustrating than researching a problem on Google and finding a half dozen unanswered posts on various forums from people experiencing the same issue - from two years ago.

     

     



  • @stratos said:

    Yes, but this al all because of the great minds at expertsexchange. They know IT geeks will laugh and be slightly insulted by the blurring and rot13.


    Then of course they will also know that we would figure out their secret plan, so that means they're expecting us [i]not[/i] to break it.



  • @asuffield said:

    I am always amused by the amount of effort people are willing to expend on gaining access to bad advice.

     Seriously. I read the topic title and I was surprised about how many comments were posted.

     "You mean to say that Experts Exchange isn't a huge WTF itself; we need to actually TALK about it?"

    That being said... its nice to have it when you're having a durrrrrrrr moment. Sometimes you luck out and the Q/A there snaps you out of it.
     


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