iPhone 14 Pro vs. Galaxy S22 Ultra HP Pavilion Plus Planet Crossword Pixel Watch Apple Watch Ultra AirPods Pro 2 iPhone 14 Pro Camera Best Android Phones
Want CNET to notify you of price drops and the latest stories?
No, thank you

How to access Wikipedia during its SOPA blackout

The free encyclopedia will be inaccessible Wednesday as part of a copyright-law protest. But it will still be available via Google's cache.

Using Google caching, it should be possible to access most Wikipedia pages.
Andrew Lih

When Jimmy Wales announced that Wikipedia will go black tomorrow in the United States in solidarity with the anti-SOPA protest movement, it was not a decision taken lightly. It might have even surprised many who thought the popular free encyclopedia Wales founded would be adopting a less stark way of protesting the Draconian copyright act. (See CNET's FAQ on SOPA.)

After all, Wikipedia is one of the most popular Web sites in the world, and a major source of information for millions of people.

But fret not. Thanks to some clever advice from Andrew Lih, the author of The Wikipedia Revolution, you don't have to go without Wikipedia during the blackout.

This is a sample of what visitors to Wikipedia will likely see in the United States on Wednesday as the free encyclopedia goes dark in protest against SOPA. Andrew Lih

Accessing Wikipedia--and most other blacked out sites, it would seem--is actually quite simple. This process assumes that you know what you want to look for on Wikipedia, but if you do, here's how to find it.

First, do a Google search for your desired topic, for example, the "Stop Online Piracy Act."

Next, run your mouse over the right hand side of the search results, and you should see some arrows and a page preview for each result.

Finally, scroll down until you see the Wikipedia page you're looking for (it will frequently be in the top few results, if not first overall), click on "Cached" and Google will deliver you its cached version of the page.

To be sure, the cached version will not be the most current, but it should make do in the absence of Wikipedia.

And as Lih points out, this isn't the first time Wikipedia has gone dark. In fact, the Italian version of the encyclopedia was the first to adopt a blackout, having done so last October in protest of Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi's proposed wiretapping act. As Lih writes on Storify, the Italian Wikipedia went silent for three full days, and visitors to the site saw this message: "As things stand, the page you want still exists and is only hidden, but the risk is that soon we will be forced by Law to actually delete it."

Here in the U.S., Wikipedia is joining blackouts by sites such as Reddit, Boing Boing, the Cheezburger Network, and others.