Friday, March 02, 2007

Hey, China! Ban THIS!

When an anonymous individual fired a vicious personal attack at me from the safety of, I was more amused than insulted. But now an entire country hates me.

My website has been banned in China. Apparently, it's subversive.

Oddly, Chinese citizens are allowed to read this blog. Apparently the government censors aren't worried that its title, No rules, will incite anarchy.

My website is mostly about my writing, although it includes a large section on how to write romance novels and another of preparing and serving afternoon tea. All pretty innocuous and wholly apolitical. So the Chinese censors have made a mistake. What they "should" have banned is this blog, because it's here that I occasionally stir things up. For example:

The most powerful country in the world not only grants its citizens the right, but actively encourages them to exchange ideas and information. It's a crying shame that the grumpy old men who run The People's Republic of China aren't bright enough to figure out that the primary reason behind the financial success and political might of The United States of America is the fact that it truly is a "people's republic," and has been from its beginning some 230 years ago.

Only very occasionally have I noticed people visiting this blog from China. But if anyone in China happens to read this post, I'd like to remind you that the world is still watching--you haven't been forgotten. And many of us are praying for you.

Want to see if your website has been banned or is viewable from China? Visit The Great Firewall of China and enter a URL; you'll get an immediate answer.


Since posting this, I've begun to wonder whether authors' websites are being blocked as a matter of course.

This from the FAQ page of The Great Firewall of China:

It is estimated that some 30,000 Chinese civil servants are monitoring Internet traffic and blocking content that is deemed undesirable. Typing in sensitive keywords such as ‘democracy’, ‘Falun Gong’ or ‘porno’ in a search engine results in an error message. Websites of a sensitive nature are being blocked. Internet service providers also (self)censor, as do individuals: many people do not express their real thoughts because they know these will be censored anyway.

It's clear that by default, all URLs are accessible to Chinese citizens. "Undesirable" sites are being actively blocked, which means that a censor had to have noticed my website and added it to the list. Since I can't imagine how my site would have drawn their attention, I can only conclude that authors' websites are being blocked as a matter of course. (Everyone knows what a subversive lot we writers can be!) That would be easy to do, as the internet contains many directories of authors' websites. A censor could simply go down the lists and block every website. Under that theory, my blog wouldn't have been blocked because it does not appear in any of those directories.

If you're an author with a blog and/or a website, or if you have tested any authors' websites and blogs to see whether they're blocked, please report in the Comments.


Chris said...

My blog gets through.

My church's website (Free Methodist) gets through.

My wife's summer camp/conference center's site (property operated by the Episcopal church) is Blocked.

Donna Alward said...

I'm okay.

Shauna said...

I, too, wondered if it was authors' websites being blocked and more specifically, Christian authors. So I tried out a few and found this out:

-Dee Henderson - Blocked
-Linda Windsor - Blocked
-Susan Warren - Available
-Ted Dekker - Available

Katie said...

HEY! I'm blocked!

My website gets through, but my blog is off-limits.

Well, that's a surprise!

I do wonder if they choose a site, find all sites that link to it, and then block all of those as a matter of course. Because me with the scandal, not so much.

Very strange!

Emily Veinglory said...

Thanks for the china firewall link. I think that you are right that noticeable writers sites tend to get blocked. The first place I checked was absoultewrite and it is blocked. I haven't checked my site yet.

TrudyJ said...

I'm blocked in China!!

That is SOO cool. I feel subversive. I want a T-shirt that proclaims my website is censored in China.

Katie Hart said...

My blog gets through.

Melissa James said...

I'm with you, Trudy! I write sweet romance, no subversive content - wonder what I did/said? Cool...does anyone know anyone who prints T-shirts, coz I want one too!


Sharon Cullars said...

My blog is blocked, but then again I write about everything, including politics.

Anne said...

Our library blog is blocked, but not the library site. Very weird.
Brenda, I love your blog; you have a real gift for connecting to readers.

Shelley said...

All three of my blogs get through...I noticed the other day that I had a couple of visits from China. That seems kinds of "coincidental" (or something) after reading this.

I checked and it is available, and is available as well.

I also checked (a Christian message board) and it is blocked.

Diana Duncan said...

I'm banned too! But my heroes and heroines would try to topple subversive governments, so maybe that's why. ;)

Elle Fredrix said...

Brenda, thanks for the link. My blog is okay, but I get a message about technical difficulties on my webpage. Maybe becuase I still have it under my AOL account, not on my own domain yet.

Carolanne said...

My blog is blocked.
I was wondering, like Katie, if it is because we are linked to other blocked blogs.. or maybe just because we checked, they decided to block us?
It's almost cool that China feels the need to block my blog! LOL

Marianne Arkins said...

Both my website and my blog go through okay. Wonder if that'll change any time soon.

I'm going to check on some of my friends blogs and websites...

Nell Dixon said...

My website got through.

Brenda Coulter said...

This morning my blog was still accessible from China. Guess they haven't seen this post yet.

Anne, thanks for your kind words.

Mirtika said...

I'm blocked. I must write too much about God. :)


Mia King said...

The site must be down but I can't wait to see if my site or blog is blocked. I wouldn't be surprised, since I worked in China for three years so I kind of know the routine, but it would also be a bummer, BECAUSE I worked in China for three years and I have friends and family who are still there! Plus I plan to travel there again in a year or so and it would be a drag if I couldn't access my own site ...

Thanks, Brenda, for a great post and the link!

Judy said...

My blog is okay, but my website is blocked. And... I'm raising my hand for the t-shirts when they are ready!!!

Brenda Coulter said...

I just want to point out that I haven't assumed or even hinted that my website was banned because I write Christian fiction. I don't know why my site is unavailable in China, but from what I've read, there's often no clear rhyme or reason to the decisions of the government censors. Also, as the FAQ at The Great Firewall of China points out, this is just one proxy server that's testing our URLs. Some sites might be available (or unavailable) at other times via other servers.

Using this single server to check sites' availability in China gives us a good indication of what's going on, but is by no means 100% accurate.

Brenda Coulter said...

Mia, you're very welcome.

I'd love to visit China.

Ceri said...

I've been blocked. Wow, and I haven't even been published yet.

Just wow.

Michelle Pendergrass said...

Mine's blocked.

Pink said...

This makes me wish I had a website that was blocked just so I could join the club too!

davidluc said...

I'm blocked, Sailing Texas, how hilarious. Been blocked for years, even though nothing about China on my websites, both are blocked,
Sailing Texas
PWC Texas

But, not blocked in Hong Kong!