Making The Guardian website slightly less annoying for subscribers…

My in-laws are visiting us, and my father-in-law is a dedicated newspaper reader, so I was prompted me to take out a subscription to The Guardian, Prince Edward Island’s newspaper of record, for the next while.

There’s no way to subscribe only to the printed newspaper: the standard $17.50/month subscription includes daily home delivery of the print newspaper along with the “e-edition” and all-you-can-eat access to the otherwise-metered website.  Oddly, the price for this without the printed newspaper is exactly the same. Which doesn’t bode well for print, as it suggests that the print newspaper is deemed to be worth $0.

The first copy of the newspaper arrived this morning (impressive, given that I purchased my subscription only yesterday) and included an excellent cover story on government expenses reported by Teresa Wright and Ryan Ross. It was a good issue to start a subscription with.

Meanwhile, I decided to use my newly-unlocked access to the entire Guardian website as an opportunity to try and make it less confusing to read (I found, to my surprise, that unlocking the website with a subscription doesn’t make any of the ads, offers and extraneous elements go away).

Hence this Greasemonkey user script:

// ==UserScript==
// @name        cleanup-pei-guardian
// @namespace
// @include*
// @description Hides the annoying parts of The Guardian website.
// @version     1
// @require
// @grant       GM_addStyle
// ==/UserScript==

This script, once installed in Greasemoney, has the effect of turning this:

The Guardian: Before Greasemonkey

into this:

The Guardian: After Greasemonkey

The effect is dramatic, and reading the altered version makes me feel like I can breathe again. And it makes me feel like I’d actually like to spend some time exploring the website.

I realize the irony of this experiment, as the bulk of my living derives, directly or indirectly, from web advertising revenue that appears in ways that are often as jarring as on The Guardian. The difference, though, is that I’m paying The Guardian $17.50 and the least they could do is make the experience of reading the website slightly less annoying.

It’s worth remembering that The Guardian has more than 100 years of a history of using design non-annoyingly; witness the front page of the print newspaper from today’s date in 1939:

The Guardian, Dec. 20, 1939

It is a thing of beauty.


nate 's picture
nate on December 21, 2014 - 14:52

Interesting. Adblock Plus can block most of the ads but your method blocks is more effective.

Peter Rukavina's picture
Peter Rukavina on December 21, 2014 - 19:19

All my method is doing is hiding content: the ads are still “there,” you just can’t see them. I’m not sure how this contrasts with AdBlock.

The other nice thing about my approach is that you can omit any part of the website that you don’t find useful: for example, in addition to blocking ads, I’m blocking all slide shows, as I never find these useful.

Igor's picture
Igor on December 23, 2014 - 14:39

I saw the link to this post and saved it for later reading. Imagine my surprise when I'm reading your post, expecting that you're writing about a newspaper with the same name, but slightly different origin. You should have seen me raising an eyebrow when I read that The Guardian is the newspaper of record for PEI. I literally was thinking "how progressive". Only after opening up the post, I understood that you had a different paper in mind. :)

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