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How I Got Blocked by the ACM

I recently heard about the ACM’s History of Programming Languages book. Being a nerd, I wanted to read it. The book is split into almost 100 sections on the ACM’s website, each of which requires a separate PDF download. I’d prefer to have a single PDF that I can put on my e-reader, so I set about opening many tabs to download and combine all of the sections. A few sections in, I realized that the URLs were made up of sequential numbers; soon I had a nifty script ready:

for n in $(seq 339 429); do
    curl -LO "https://dl.acm.org/doi/pdf/10.1145/800025.1198$n"
done

I ran the script and… now I’m blocked from accessing any publications on the ACM’s website. Oof.

screenshot of the ACM website showing that my IP address is blocked with a support email listed for help

Let’s hope they actually check that support email! If not, I’ll be stuck using a VPN to read papers for school.

Update: I got an email back telling me that the block was an automatic response to “an action that could be the work of an automated program” and that the block should go away on its own after a few hours. 28 hours later, I seem to finally have access again!

[This page was last updated on November 8, 2022]