Web Users Try to Navigate Around TimesSelect

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By: Jay DeFoore

Although The New York Times now requires online readers to pay to read its popular Op-Ed columnists, Web users are a notoriously ingenious bunch when it comes to bending the rules to get what they want.

A look at the most popular searches at Technorati — a Web site that indexes the ever-expanding world of blogs — reveals that half of the top 10 searches are for New York Times Op-Ed columnists.

Could it be that Web users are hoping to find the paid content posted for free somewhere in the blogosphere?

As of mid-day Thursday, Maureen Dowd was the most popular search string on Technorati, followed by fellow New York Times columnists David Brooks (No. 3), Bob Herbert (No. 6), Paul Krugman (No. 8), and John Tierney (No. 10).

Most of the posts linked from Technorati summarized or commented on the columns, or simply made passing reference to the Times’ star opinion-makers. Still other bloggers found they could manipulate Technorati and drive traffic to their sites by embedding popular search keywords in their blog posts.

But a quick search turned up one whole column of copyrighted material. Herbert’s Sept. 29 column “Blood on Their Hands” was reposted at a blog called “Life Goes On?!”

The New York Times will certainly have its hands full tracking down all the bloggers who post copyrighted material on their (usually anonymous) sites, a Sisyphean task if there ever were one.

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