Why you should care

You can fool friends and colleagues into thinking you’re a serious sort of person. It’s a cure for shame … but not guilt.

Do you suffer from Web-browsing shame? Have you ever felt embarrassed when somebody caught you checking Buzzfeed or TMZ and wished you’d been spotted reading The New York Times instead?

You are not alone. Even the most virtuous news consumers can’t stop themselves from clicking on intriguing headlines like “6 Outrageous Kanye Quotes You’ve Overlooked” or beautifully improbable titles like “Girl With World-Famous Butt Meets Guy Who Threw Porn Star Off His Roof.”

Reading gossip is like peeing in pools; it’s gross but we’ve all done it.

With Timesify, you can now check out those stories without fear of being caught. This cheeky bookmarklet for Web browsers gives articles on popular yet embarrassing sites the look of the vaunted Gray Lady.

That means no more making up lame excuses or rushing to minimize your screen whenever a coworker walks by or a family member peeps over your shoulder. With Timesify, everybody will think you’re an informed citizen — while you learn about the latest celebrity nip slip.

The brainchild of Daniel Fenjves, Dustin Nelson and Esteban Pastorino, Timesify won the Grand Prize at the 2014 Comedy Hack Day NYC.

The project was a last-minute choice after they found out their original idea had already been done. “We settled on the Timesify idea as a last resort. We actually didn’t think it was very funny at the time,” says Fenjves, who helped develop in it just six hours. “When it all of a sudden took off, we were blown away.”

Indeed, Timesify seems to have struck a chord with the closeted gossip lovers. Since its launch in June, the app has won more than 44,300 unique users who’ve “Timesified” more than 100,000 articles, mostly from Buzzfeed, TMZ, Facebook, Gawker and ESPN.

An ‘In case anyone asks’ section provides a handy, two-sentence blurb of the NYT article in case someone catches you off guard with a question.

Trying it is simple. Go to the Timesify site, drag the Timesify button to your bookmark bar and, whenever you’ve hit upon something you’d rather camouflage, click on the bookmarklet.

In a matter of seconds, the article on how “Miley Cyrus Peed on a Tree” will appear on a page that looks like The New York Times — and with a headline and photo from a bonafide, recent New York Times piece, like “Iraqi Relief Flights Rescue Dozens, but Leave Thousands Behind.”

That’s not all. Every Timesify article includes an “In case anyone asks” section on top. It provides a handy, two-sentence blurb of the NYT article so that you have an alibi if someone catches you off guard with a question.

But what about the pictures? Don’t worry, for those eager to see the images for Buzzfeed’s thrilling exposé, “17 Celebrity Instagrams You Need To See This Week,” the original photos are hidden behind a dummy ad on the “Timesified” page. Click on it and the pics will appear.

Of course, instead of going through all this trouble to hide our guilty reading habits, we could just mend our ways and buy the NYT, or at least admit that reading gossip is like peeing in pools; it’s gross but we’ve all done it.

Or maybe The New York Times should take a hint and reverse engineer the app, make reading the NYT look like Buzzfeed. Surely there are plenty of hip news consumers embarrassed to let friends know they’re browsing such dreadfully serious stuff.

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