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  • What An Honor

    Posted by Jonathan on February 20th, 2004 (All posts by )

    Classical Values blog reports that Chicagoboyz is one of many blogs that are blocked by the content-filtering system that is marketed to libraries and big companies and the like by a company called SonicWALL.

    I guess some of us (cough) use bad words, or perhaps we link to evil pro-gun sites (“violent content”), or maybe it’s just that we are opinionated and argue a lot. Or maybe someone misinterpreted the name of the blog. Whatever. God forbid an innocent child or sensitive person should read our posts and be corrupted, made to feel uncomfortable or subjected to a hostile environment.

    These filtering systems are inherently flawed because somebody has to decide which topics to censor and which algorithms to use to detect them. Even if the people who run the filters mean well, their incentive will always be to forbid more rather than less. Sometimes that’s because 1) it’s easier (no need to spend time assessing evidence and drawing distinctions), and 2) censorware customers are probably less likely to complain — or sue — if the blocking algorithm is too restrictive than if it is too liberal. And sometimes it’s because the people who design the filters are politically correct control-freaks.

    This kind of software is an expensive cure relative to the costs of the problems it is supposed to address.

    (via InstaPundit and The Gweilo Diaries)

     

    8 Responses to “What An Honor”

    1. Ray Says:

      I’ll leave it to the reader to speculate why, or if, chicagoboyz.com may be the website that is blocked.

      But chicagoboyz.net is, I suspect, not the intended target or is a victim of guilt by similar name.

      Then again, maybe this site is blocked and the other allowed. That wouldn’t be surprising.

    2. Jonathan Says:

      Good question. Classical Values lists blocked blogs from InstaPundit’s link roll, so I thought it likely that chicagoboyz.net was indeed the blocked blog. But who knows. Cases of mistaken identity are not unheard of in connection with filtering software.

      I would be interested in hearing from anyone who has access to a filtered computer or network and can check our blog’s status.

    3. Richard A. Heddleson Says:

      The reason the site is blocked is that the ALA determined that the pictures at the top of the page are Satanic in nature.

    4. Sylvain Galineau Says:

      I still think we need more sex and violence.

    5. aaron Says:

      Did you try asking them?

    6. Jay Manifold Says:

      Asking the pictures at the top of the page for more sex and violence? I dunno, sounds kinda occult to me …

    7. Eric Scheie Says:

      https://www.chicagoboyz.net/ was the URL which was blocked. SonicWALL is particularly insidious because it blocks sites which discuss controversial issues on their list. Big companies concerned with liability love it, and I am sure the mainstream media loves the fact that blogs are blocked. Even Volokh and Kaus are blocked — because they discuss controversial topics like sex, guns, violence, religious cults, etc. By the way, I disagree that your blog was blocked because “the pictures at the top of the page are Satanic in nature” — although I do think the pictures may be implicated. (“Mature content”, you know….)

      Hope it can be stopped, and I thank you for the link!

    8. Jonathan Says:

      Thanks, Eric. And thanks for raising the issue.

      I know why big companies do it. I don’t like it but I can’t really blame them, given that they probably do face liability. But libraries? Nobody is doing children any favors by shielding them from controversial issues. One day they’ll grow up and find themselves swimming in the same opinion sea that filters hide (as if many kids weren’t already doing so, off premises). They are better off learning how to deal with controversy from their parents or other responsible adults rather than from playmates.

      BTW, I think that the remark about the photos was meant in jest.