My fellow blogger and photographer Doug Stockdale, is having a hard time accessing blogs while traveling in China. Here I loan him again a post so he can share his experiences and findings on how to access a blog when you are in China. If any reader has information on how the censorship that limits access to external blogs from China works, or how to get around it, please share it with us. Here there is some information about China Censorship from wikipedia.
China Blog Blocking
by Doug Stockdale, photo-blogger, Singular Images
If you are a photo-blogger, or really any blogger, and you don’t get many ‘views’ from China, it’s more than just a language issue. And the reason may also explain why you don’t get much visibility in other tightly controlled governmental regions of the world.
During my recent assignment in China last Fall, I found that I was totally unable to post, administrate or view my blog Singular Images. Grrrr, what the heck was going on? And I could not access most of my other favorite blogs, so how was I to find out what was REALLY going on in the world? Anyhow, I am not a techie, but I was not going to give up easily. So I tried other computers, internet browsers, servers, etc. to no avail. NO can do!
So after returning to California, I started posting my images from China and venting my frustrating experience. A photo blogger from WanHu China then commented on something I was beginning to suspect, it was not me but the China Blogger ‘Red Guard’. Yes, it was not ME! I now can say that China is not Blogger Friendly, but there is a way. So the blogger sent me the Chinese blog ‘work around’ and it’s very complicated and not simple. Yikes! Complicated and not simple, and I have problems with simple;- )
So now that I am back in China on another assignment , I had left a message on my blog that I am not available until the end of the month. Oh, well.
But I have not given up yet! I am now working on a ‘simple’ way to increase access and I think that I have a couple of recommendations that break the China blocking filter code. And I suspect that these same blog blockers are being utilized by other governments that don’t condone blogs.
First, you’re blog URL can not be the traditional blog name with the ‘dot’ truncating the name from the blog service, such as mine: www.singularimages.wordpress.com and typical of WordPress, Blogger and Typepad. Any URL with the dot-truncated name is going to have major issues. Two potential solutions to this, first is to have a single word URL such as my web gallery: www.douglasstockdale.com, which works here. Another alternative is to use slashes to provide the address name, such as Jorg Colberg’s Conscientious site: http://www.jmcolberg.com/weblog/
Second, you are going to have to eliminate the word ‘blog’ from any of your website title, name and meta data. Until China puts a block on it, ‘weblog’ could be one of your alternatives. My guess is that someone from the China Blogger Red Guard will soon read this, but pretty soon they will have to block just everything and that is going to make a bigger mess over here.
This may not be perfect fix, such as this blog, exposurecompensation.com, is not readable in China and Miguel just did a check of his source code and meta data which does not use the word ‘blog’. But at least if you make these changes, you improve your readability odds;- )
As I was not entirely sure about the meta data, I tried a little experiment and did a Google of bunch of words and terms I felt were sensitive for China. Such as the following words: democracy, Christianity, politics, religion and nude as well as a whole bunch more. Most did single word URLs not have a problem, but ‘democracy’ was really mixed (Duh!) and ‘nude’ was a solid block. So of course, I tried a few courser variations on nude and they were also blocked. But when I went to a photo web site that has some beautiful nudes such as Kim Weston’s, no problems. So that is when I suspected that China employs two types of filters, both the truncated URL as well as the wording of the meta data and web titles.
Thus, one of my projects when I return to California next month is to modify how I have my blog running on the internet, eliminate the dot-truncation and to make sure that my meta data does not have the word ‘blog’, probably use ‘weblog’. I have read some blogs here in China that do meet these conditions and use a blogger service, such as WordPress, as the backbone. I just need to figure out how!
Thus, if you want to have a greater impact with your photo-blogging, especially in China, you might want to consider doing the same.
By the way, if you are going to China, there is a way to at least read your blogs while here, but it won’t help to administrate, at least for WordPress. With thanks to Meredith at OFOTO Gallery, you can use the following ‘simple’ process; type in the following URL and at the end, add the URL for the blog you want to read.
http://anonymouse.org/cgi-bin/anon-www.cgi/http://(then your blog URL)
For example, for my blog Singular Images, I used the following URL here in China to view it:
Best regards and currently reporting from JiaShan China,
Your foreign investigative photo-blogging reporter, Doug Stockdale