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Web Junkie: BUGMENOT.COM – Who has time to register?


Published: Monday, December 4, 2006

Updated: Monday, January 18, 2010

Whether you’re reading The New York Times online, browsing YouTube, or just trying to read a forum post, chances are you’ve ran into the dreaded “Please Register” wall, demanding you spend several minutes entering your name, email and often address and phone number, all for the privilege of viewing otherwise-free content. Sites that require registration say it’s a small price to pay for free content, gives them a better understanding of their audience, and allows them to protect minors from objectionable content. Many readers call it an invasion of privacy and a waste of time, demanding a way to bypass registration altogether.

Ask, and the Internet shall provide. is a site where users can find free, pre-registered login info for just about any non-pay site requiring it. When you’re cruising the web and run up against a please-register page (at, for instance…), you can open Bugmenot in a separate window and enter in the offender’s URL. Usually, you’ll be presented with a long list of login names and passwords, along with a statistic for the login’s success rate and the ability to answer, “Did this login work for you?”

As of this writing, Bugmenot claims having false accounts for 136,603 unique websites. All of these logins are donated by other Bugmenot users. If the site can’t provide you with a working login, you’re encouraged to register for the site with false info and then donate the resulting info. That “false info” part is important, because once the donated info is live, anyone can use it. You don’t want hundreds of thousands of web junkies doing as they please with your nametag on their shirt.

Is all this ethical? The site’s administrators dodge the issue – “You’ll have to find your own way there,” says Bugmenot’s FAQ before referring readers to a debate on the topic at, the website of famed journalism school The Poynter Institute. However, the opinion of Bugmenot’s admistrators is made abundantly clear elsewhere on the site. Under “Why not just register?” is a long list mentioning privacy issues, spam, the spirit of the Internet and, best of all, because “It’s annoying as hell.”

The site does take steps to protect themselves from Big e-Business’s many lawyers. No where on Bugmenot’s pages do they provide a list of the sites they hold accounts for, nor do they link to any site (ensuring they remain off any referrer lists, thus preventing anyone from guessing how many forced registrations the site is circumventing). They also disallow submission of paid account info, meaning you can’t sneak into a for-pay website for free. Just in case one sneaks in, Bugmenot is willing to blocks sites by request… granted they are either for pay, a community forum with alterable content, or a fraud risk.

If opening a separate window and searching for the site in question sounds too slow, Bugmenot links to a handy extension for the Firefox web browser. Once installed, this will allow you to right-click (or control-click for Macs) on login fields and ask Bugmenot to do it for you. The extension will automatically enter the best login Bugmenot has, and keep trying different info until it either succeeds or runs out of options.’s yet another example of the increasingly complex ethical dilemmas of online businesses and privacy, raising questions that aren’t easy to answer. It’s also incredibly useful. For the time being, that may be all that counts.

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