Is there such a thing as a free Experts Exchange account? One that doesn’t require a credit card? One that does not expire after a trial period?
Yes! Yes you can get a free Experts Exchange account that does not require credit card information! Just click here, read all of the text to make sure you understand what you have to do (It’s simple! Really!) and then sign up by clicking the “I want to be an expert!” button at the bottom of the page!
Most every IT professional is familiar with Experts Exchange. Started in 1996, it became one of the premier gathering places for IT pros to discuss their technical challenges and dispense their wisdom to others. It is also made from raw evil. Well, maybe that’s a bit of an overstatement.
The biggest problem I and many others have with Experts Exchange is that the site shows certain content to search engines (based on the user agent given) and other content to regular browsers. If you browse the website normally, all answers to questions are hidden. However, if you land on the Experts Exchange website through a search engine link, you can scroll to the bottom of the page and see the discussion and accepted solution(s).
The deception and filthy lies are what bothers me the most. Look at this graphic that is taken from Experts Exchange after clicking through a search engine link:
The verbiage in the text makes it seem that the only way to view the solution is to sign up for the service. Of course, you can have a 30-day free trial, but that requires credit card information. Look at another graphic from the page:
Again, the verbiage only suggests that a 30-day trial is what you must use to see the comments. What I find most disturbing is that the revealed comments in the thread including any accepted solutions are just a few pixels away. If you clicked through to Experts Exchange from a search engine URL, you can merely scroll down past the filthy lies and you will see all of the comments and accepted solutions at the bottom:
And Experts Exchange knows it too! What does a person see when they scroll down to see the full thread? This little floating gem graces the right side of the browser as soon as the actual comments of the thread appear:
It is true that these days (as of July 2010) Experts Exchange is a bit more forthright about advertising their free account. As you can see in the above graphic, the option to “Answer 3 questions/month” is displayed. Also, on the side of the site you see the three possible ways to sign up for an account where the bottommost option is “Answer for Membership”:
Not too long ago, you used to have to slog through their FAQ and find an obscure link to get to the free registration page.
Another way of seeing the hidden answers on Experts Exchange is to change the user agent that your browser displays to web sites. You can do that in Firefox using the User Agent Switcher extension.
The free account is not without a few little hoops that you must jump through. In order to have access to the answers on the site, you must earn at least 3,000 points per month. That’s not an unreasonable amount of points to gain, and it can be done by contributing three good answers. You can also earn a premium membership by earning 10,000 points in a month (supposedly about 7 questions answered).
If you’re willing to put a few minutes a month into maintaining your membership, then it could be worth it. Indeed, there is good content on Experts Exchange. However, if you feel compelled to contribute to Experts Exchange beyond the mandatory 3,000 points (or 10,000 if you want a premium membership), consider giving your time to sites that are not evil such as ServerFault, StackOverflow and SuperUser.
Fie on thee, deceitful Experts Exchange. Long live the StackExchange Trilogy!