How to use AdBlock to bypass The Onion’s paywall

October 07, 2011 By: erik Category: Complaining, Geeky, Internet, Marketing 16,618 views

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The Onion Pay WallI’ve been a fan of The Onion for a long time, so I was quite distressed to see that they’ve put up a paywall. Now, when you view more than five articles in thirty days, it pops up a box asking you to pay $2.95/month or $29.95/year for full access. My personal philosophy is that content should be monetized by advertisements and the minority of people that choose to use technology to block those ads just have to be accepted as a loss. With a little HTML investigation, I figured out which elements need to be hidden from the page to disable their fairly weak attempt at securing their content behind a paywall. If you have the popular AdBlock plugin (Firefox, Safari, Chrome) installed, you need only add two rules to your AdBlock settings.

The Onion Pay Wall

To allow their content to be crawlable by search engines, they display it all, but then put up a translucent element on top of the entire page to block navigation and easy human consumption. If they really wanted to get serious about the paywall, they could do so pretty easily, but I guess they assume this tactic will stop most people.

AdBlock rules to disable The Onion’s paywall[id="gregbox-wrap"][id="gregbox-overlay"]

International Only

At the moment, this paywall is only in effect for international visitors. A statement from The Onion:

We have found that most of our readers share articles with each other, and flow in and out of our site, and we do not want to limit that behavior.

There is also a set of avid readers, and we have chosen an article limit which allows that fan base to support us directly. On other platforms like the Kindle and Nook, we have had great support from our fans and other interested readers, which has given us confidence for this move.

We are testing a meter internationally as readers in those markets are already used to paying directly for some (other) content, particularly in the UK where we have many readers.

  • aquariumdrinker

    My personal philosophy is that video game consoles should be given away for free and monetized with in-game advertisements (which I personally never see), which is why I stole this sweet-ass PS3 rig from Best Buy.

    • That’s quite a tenuous metaphor.

      You might’ve done better going with pirated music.

      • aquariumdrinker

        I defeat your Shield of Obtuseness with my +3 Mists of Obliviousness.

        My point is that it is a moral wrong to reprice someone else’s goods or services to zero without their consent. In this context, it’s not a moral wrong I feel strongly about. I probably do worse stuff in traffic to other drivers several times a week. But it surprises me that you did not try to come up with a justification or excuse better than “my personal philosophy is that these kinds of services shouldn’t cost me anything.”

        Now me, see, I would have said something like “I know this is wrong, but my sister’s children will die slow, horrific deaths without some The Onion to sustain them. Yes, I stole to save their lives and I would do it again. And damn the eyes of any man who have me do otherwise! Who is the monster here, Inspector?”

        • Bbob

          A moral wrong? What kind of wrong is that? One written in a cloud? Or did you just use a proxy to impose your ethics on others?

  • Anonymous

    Thanks for the tip! 🙂

  • Sweet, Welcome back Onion

  • middle east

    Thanks it worked! March, 13, 2012

  • kostas

    Quick Hack without AdBlock:

    (1) Create a text file (e.g. using Notepad)
    (2) Paste following code:


    (3) Save as onion.html
    (4) Open file onion.html
    (5) Drag the “DisplayOnion” to your bookmark bar
    (6) Open, wait for splash screen, click the bookmark to clear screen.

    • skp

      I cant seem to drag “DisplayOnion” to the bookmark bar. I tried chrome and ie. Does it still work?

  • kostas

    Sorry, about previous comment. Grab the code here:

  • aaaaaaaaaaaa

    All you have to do is hit ‘Esc’ as soon as the text loads (before the popup). Quickly though.

    • UKOnioner

      you, my sir, are a legend

    • Thanks a lot.Legend

    • DrBrodski786

      It still works good. Thanks for the advice.

  • fiji gal

    where in adblock do I enter these rules? I tried in “Manually edit your filters ” and “hide a section of a webpage” and no dice. hitting esc before the box loads workd except it sometimes stop the photo from loading as well. 🙁

  • manicstreetpreacher

    I have been using your Adblock rules to bypass The Onion paywall for some time, but I think the site’s administrators have rumbled us and have changed the rules. 🙁

    I’m not as computer literate as you clearly are, so I was wondering whether you could take a look at the website and post the new rules.

    Clearing my browser cache and disabling cookies works on other paywalled sites like The Daily Telegraph but isn’t not on The Onion.



  • Jack

    This article is irrelevant now use the advice from this instead as the onion have updated their filters.

  • Brad

    Here are some new rules you can use since they have changed the DOM.“gregbox-outer”]“gregbox-outer”] + DIV“gregbox-signInTab”]“gregbox-signInTab”] + IMG

    • Gandu

      Thank you, Sir!

    • Warren Burstein

      This isn’t working for me. Has it changed again?

    • Sarah Harding-Roberts

      No dice

      • Paul


        Or edit your hosts file and point and to localhost.

  • Pat


  • phylius1988

    This method is still working for me.

  • ZzzZombi

    In case someone finds this page. Here are updated things to block:

    • Sarah Harding-Roberts

      Yeah this one still works, thanks!

  • Jesse

    Alternatively, since whether or not you’re an international viewer determines whether or not you’re disrupted by the pay wall you could just use a simple http proxy.

    Just google http proxy, and use an add on similar to foxy proxy. Find a proxy server hosted in the states, and you should be good to go. From this point forward, as far as the onion is concerned, you’re an American.