Talk:List of websites blocked in the United Kingdom

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Please read this before updating the article:

Only major ISPs, mention Cleanfeed[edit]

It should be noted that these sites are only blocked on the major ISP networks, there are a dozens of smaller ISPs who are not required to block these sites (yet).

There should probably be come mention of Cleanfeed as that's the system which implements the filtering, as well as the fact that Cleanfeed also blocks access to sites, identified by the IWF, which host child abuse images.WvvvW (talk) 13:10, 12 August 2013 (UTC)

 Done. Both of these issues are mentioned now. --Jeff Ogden (W163) (talk) 07:18, 19 November 2013 (UTC)

Where do we want this article to go?[edit]

I'm not sure where we want this article to go in the future and would like to start a discussion about it here.

The article includes an XML comment that is repeated in an expanded form at the top of this talk page that says:

This page is for notable websites only. Please avoid listing individual blogs or 
websites with low traffic or without a Wikipedia entry or a 3rd party reliable 
source for their parent organization. Keep list in order by start date. Include 
citations to reliable sources.

But only 8 of the 32 sites currently listed have wikilinks. Do we want the list to include just "notable" sites or should it be more complete? How do we know when a blocked site is notable? Or can we assume that if a site is blocked, that someone thought it was notable enough to need blocking?

Several of the references are to what I suspect are less than reliable third-party sources. This is particularly true of the new "Proxy URL" column. What can we do about this? Without reliable sources, we may need to delete the Proxy URL column and perhaps a few of the rows as well.

Speaking of the Proxy URL column, how do we keep that up-to-date? How do we keep the "End date" column up-to-date? There are two items flagged as "citation needed" in that column now.

Is the Proxy URL column leading us down the path to providing "how to" information? That is something we should avoid, see WP:NOTHOWTO.

All but one of the sites listed are blocked by court order due to copyright infringement. But we know that quite a large number of sites are blocked at the request of the Internet Watch Foundation due to child pornography. Is the article misleading because it doesn't list any of these sites? What can be done about this?

Are there other issues that should be discussed?

--Jeff Ogden (W163) (talk) 21:53, 19 November 2013 (UTC)

Hi Jeff

Most of the new edits including the proxies were mine but I'm doing them under an account now. I definitely agree there are too many non-notable sites taking up space there, I think the answer is to fit them in a more summarized / compressed format rather than their complete removal though.

The entire page and its scope is inherently difficult to maintain because there is and likely never will be UK government approved 'list of banned websites in the UK' because censorship has to inherently be done secretly to be most effective. As a result, the official banning orders would typically come from press coverage of court orders or other exceptional coverage of this nature.

With regards to the proxy sites, it was obviously a bold decision to include them, but I can certainly stand by the fact that they continue to receive significant levels of press coverage as site blocking is proven to be ineffective. I feel it doesn't seem to make sense to store this information on a different page, because the relationships between the site blocks and similar coverages are so intertwined.

I'm hoping to find a decent UK site block checker so I can more authoritatively source the block end dates and move the page towards 100% coverage. Personally I have no plans to list any permanently IWF blocked sites unless they receive wikipedia-like levels of coverage at this time.

Deku-shrub (talk) 10:58, 23 November 2013 (UTC)

Welcome (to you and your new Wikipedia account) and thanks for commenting here.
  • Working to develop a compressed format would be good to try.
  • Perhaps the fact that the list of banned sites is only documented in "exceptional" press coverage could be a blessing in disguise. If a site isn't notable enough to be listed in the exceptional coverage, then perhaps it isn't notable enough to be included in this Wikipedia article?
  • If the proxy sites are getting "significant levels of press coverage", could citations to the articles in the press be added to the Wikipedia article? Without references to reliable third-party sources, I think we'll probably need to delete the proxy column. I don't think it is a matter of using a different page or at least not a different page within Wikipedia. We need to find a way to make the proxy information verifiable without doing WP:Original research. And that brings us back to finding reliable third-party published sources that we can cite.
  • Your desire to find a site block checker and make a more complete list of blocked sites seems like a worthy project, but it seems likely to be WP:Original research as far as Wikipedia is concerned. It would be a shame to go to all the work and then not be able to include it here. Perhaps the list could be developed and maintained elsewhere and some news organization convinced to write some articles about it from time to time?
Good luck. Let me know if I can do anything to help. --Jeff Ogden (W163) (talk) 13:46, 23 November 2013 (UTC)
  • Compressed format will definitely happen which should cover the 'exceptional' status. Might as well keep it comprehensive until a compressed version overflows though.
  • The proxy coverage has received about 1/3rd to 1/2 level of coverage of the site blocking itself when it comes to pirate sites, notably the ppuk proxy for instance which was political move. Coverage of site blocking mentioned the proxy sites in about 50% of the coverage, e.g. the block, and of course the proxies are indexed at dedicated proxy sites. I don't feel the need for a List of proxies to circumvent websites blocked in the United Kingdom page when this'll do. This also highlights the fact (as I contextualised), that the sites are not 'blocked' in the UK, domains, ips and dns records are redirected at 96.5% of the UK ISPs. Therefore this page is inherently misnamed in any case - proxies, technical solutions and levels of 'blocking' are inherantly a part of the discussion
  • I've tried to verify the sites as being blocked myself because I realised I was documenting lots of 'blocked' sites that weren't actually blocked. The page is not List of websites subject to blocking orders in the United Kingdom, implicit is accuracy. Yet the accurate information simply doesn't exist as far as as I can tell.
Happy to hear further tips to keep this page Wikipedia worthy :)
Deku-shrub (talk) 22:11, 23 November 2013 (UTC)
I changed the title of the article from "List of websites blocked in the United Kingdom" to "List of websites subject to blocking orders in the United Kingdom". The old name redirects to the new name. --Jeff Ogden (W163) (talk) 01:39, 24 November 2013 (UTC)
I'm afraid the new title is not correct. Torrentfreak, DNSmadeeasy/Radiotimes etc were never subject to blocking orders, they were sites that were blocked due to bodged implementation of the blocking orders. Not sure what the best title is though Deku-shrub (talk) 20:37, 24 November 2013 (UTC)
As long as the new title is better than the old title, which I think it is, I think we should stick with it. Since Torrentfreak, DNSmadeeasy/Radiotimes were blocked by mistake, only blocked for from one to three days, and are not blocked now, I think we should delete them from the table. If we want, we can add some text to the "Notable blocking orders" section or a new section on "Blocking errors" that explains about the blocking by mistake. --Jeff Ogden (W163) (talk) 05:57, 25 November 2013 (UTC)
Yes but all the IWF blocking errors were different types of mistakes too. Errors are inherent to the technologies used and I'm hoping to illustrate this. Deku-shrub (talk) 10:19, 25 November 2013 (UTC)
You may be trying to do too much in the table. It may be better / clearer to illustrate this in a new section outside of the table in this article or perhaps in the main Internet censorship in the United Kingdom article. --Jeff Ogden (W163) (talk) 13:21, 25 November 2013 (UTC)

Reliable sources?[edit]

Which of the following are considered reliable third-party sources?

  • Reddit Comments
  • The Proxy Bay
  • TorrentFreak
  • TorrentProxies
  • Twitter
  • WordPress Forums

They are all used as sources in the article now. --Jeff Ogden (W163) (talk) 13:31, 25 November 2013 (UTC)

Reddit comments I would avoid, but it's the largest coverage of the Imgur blocking I could find, the media didn't pick up on it this time around. However Twitter comments, when from an official source of course are reliable so between the two it's good. Torrentfreak is an established media site focused on this area, one of only a few dedicated to the purpose, though I've tried to mix in BBC and other tech sites for balance. The Wordpress comments are from officials in an official capacity so I consider them legitimate. The proxy sites I'm hoping to find the best way of citing them so they remain of high quality, I accept things are a bit all over the place at the moment. Deku-shrub (talk) 15:05, 25 November 2013 (UTC)
Is TorrentFreak an independent news site or a media site that advocates a cause? I'm just asking because I really don't know. The name itself and some information in the TorrentFreak Wikipedia article pushes on the side of being an advocate:
  • TorrentFreak is a blog …
  • Regular contributors include Rickard Falkvinge, founder of the Pirate Party.
  • Ernesto, the founder and a major editorial contributor, seems to write under a pseudonym.
While other statements in the Wikipedia article push on the side of being an independent news site with a fairly narrow focus:
  • TorrentFreak is … dedicated to reporting the latest news and trends on the BitTorrent protocol and file sharing.
  • According to Canadian law scholar Michael Geist, TorrentFreak "is widely used as a source of original reporting on digital issues". Examples are The New York Times, The Guardian, CNN, The Wall Street Journal, and the Flemish newspaper De Standaard.
--Jeff Ogden (W163) (talk) 02:58, 26 November 2013 (UTC)
Well it serves its users in an independent fashion. It's certainly Pirate Party leaning, just as other publications have fairly 'normal' left/right biases. I've including cites from Andrew Orlowski of the register, a major anti pirate voice which does provide some balance. Deku-shrub (talk) 12:03, 26 November 2013 (UTC)
I am still uneasy with using TorrentFreak as a reliable source. If there are other reliable sources available, we should probably use them in preference to or together with the TorrentFreak reference. --Jeff Ogden (W163) (talk) 19:03, 8 December 2013 (UTC)
I'm not sure that "Twitter comments, when from an official source" are necessarily reliable third-party sources. They are probably not third-party. And they are probably primary sources, while Wikipedia wants secondary sources (I spent most of my professional life working at a university, so that the idea that secondary sources are better than primary sources takes some getting used to).
Similarly, Wordpress comments from "officials in an official capacity" may be "legitimate", but they may not be considered reliable sources as far as Wikipedia is concerned. There are the same third-party and primary vs. secondary source issues.
Perhaps more to the point for both of these is that what Wikipedia seems to be after in a reliable source is some sort of editorial review as part of the publication process and it isn't clear that there is such a review for comments published on Twitter or WordPress even when the comments come from official sources.
--Jeff Ogden (W163) (talk) 02:58, 26 November 2013 (UTC)
Accepted the sources are not fantastic. I've kicked off a couple of projects outside of wikipedia designed to analyse the data I've captured which should ideally present fuller pictures of the indicents so far Deku-shrub (talk) 12:03, 26 November 2013 (UTC)

Large ISPs subject to blocking orders[edit]

Do we know why only the five large ISPs are subject to blocking orders? Is this formal UK policy or a coincidence? Are the organizations that petition the courts for the blocking orders only asking for these five or is the court limiting it to these five on its own initiative? Does this same rule apply to blocking requests from the IWF or does it only apply to court ordered blocks? --Jeff Ogden (W163) (talk) 17:48, 25 November 2013 (UTC)

I believe is a clause in the Digital Economy act that mandates ISPs with above 500k subscribers to follow various parts of it. I didn't write this down as I'd need to go find the citation :) Deku-shrub (talk) 23:32, 25 November 2013 (UTC)
Found it! Deku-shrub (talk) 19:53, 26 November 2013 (UTC)

Wayback Machine and FileServe[edit]

The entries for Wayback Machine and FileServe in the table say that specific URLs on the sites were blocked and that the blocking was resolved in the same month that it started (January 2009 and November 2011 respectively). Is this really the case?

In both cases there seem to be two types of blocking, the blocking of specific URLs and the fairly brief overblocking of the entire site by some ISPs. I suspect that the blocking of specific URLs is ongoing and it was the overblocking that was resolved. If that is correct, we should remove the dates from the "Resolution date" column. We can deal with the overblocking issue and its resolution in a note or by having a second entry in the table for both sties. Or we could simply ignore the overblocking since it was done by mistake, was resolved reasonably quickly, and is not going on now. --Jeff Ogden (W163) (talk) 02:11, 26 November 2013 (UTC)

The ISPs frequently make errors implementing blocking measures, taking out whole sites and IPs rather than just the specific urls. This can be due to technical errors or overly broad court orders. This is an inherent flaw in the system, so I would argue the different blocking types cannot be easily categorised and all belong on the same list. Deku-shrub (talk) 11:52, 26 November 2013 (UTC)
I'm not convinced splitting these incidents into two rows each time has helped readability. Sites that are correctly blocked are by definition not notable, where as sites controversially blocked by definition are, and that's what's going to make up most of the list. Will allow some time to respond, then I might revert this change Deku-shrub (talk) 22:55, 4 December 2013 (UTC)
I think you have to either split the mistaken blocks into separate rows of their own or omit the mistaken blocks from the table entirely. By combining two things into one row you can't easily explain when one has ended and the other has not and it is easy to confuse people about the reason behind the blocking since there are two reasons, one due to copyright, indecent images, or whatever and the other due to mistaken over blocking. It is important for the entries to be accurate and understandable to the reader. It is hard to do that when two things with separate information are combined into a single row. --Jeff Ogden (W163) (talk) 18:00, 8 December 2013 (UTC)
I don't understand the comment from above that says "Sites that are correctly blocked are by definition not notable, where as sites controversially blocked by definition are, and that's what's going to make up most of the list." Is the controversy here the mistaken blocks or something else? Blocking of websites for whatever reason is going to be controversial to some people because censorship for whatever reasons is controversial. I would think that it is all notable. In any case as far as Wikipedia is concerned, nothing is notable or not notable by definition. Notability is determined by coverage in published reliable secondary third-party sources. Now something can be off-topic. That is different from notability. So, for example, we could choose to only include longer term deliberate blocks in this article and to omit blocking due to mistakes that are quickly rectified. We haven't done that, but we could, and if we did, we might exclude some things, not because they weren't notable, but because they were off-topic for this article. --Jeff Ogden (W163) (talk) 18:00, 8 December 2013 (UTC)
"it is easy to confuse people about the reason behind the blocking since there are two reasons, one due to copyright, indecent images, or whatever and the other due to mistaken over blocking" The issue is inherently confusing IMO. For example, Wikipedia was never blocked in the UK, but anonymous editing was. Fileserve was never blocked, but anonymous uploading was, Radiotimes was never blocked, but some of its domain was, was blocked by some ISPs due to technical error. Wayback machine was blocked due to their caching mechanisms, but they changed their code to fix this.
The waters are very murkey, I'm assuming notability/press coverage should be the main judge of what gets on the list, rather than trying to document secret lists of things. Deku-shrub (talk) 11:24, 9 December 2013 (UTC)

Format and content of references[edit]

It would be helpful if more complete descriptions could be added for references that are added to this (or any Wikipedia) article. See Help:Referencing for beginners without using templates and Help:Referencing for beginners with citation templates.

  • We generally want to avoid direct URLs in the body of an article. There are exceptions such as the "Domain or URL" and "Proxy domain" columns in the table in this article.
  • We want to avoid bare URLs as references.
  • References to Wikipedia articles are not allowed. Wikilinks to an article in the body of an article are OK, but are not a substitute for a reference to an external source.
  • References should come after, not before, punctuation.
  • References in the middle of a sentence interrupt the flow of reading and should, in most cases, be avoided. References should usually come at the end of a sentence, at the end of a paragraph, or sometimes at the end of a clause in a sentence.
  • References should not appear within headings.
  • Dates should be in "day month year" or "month year" format. Avoid the ambiguous "dd/mm/yy" or "mm/dd/yy" formats. Avoid abbreviations, spell out the full month name. Use four digits rather than two digits for the year. For example "1 February 2013" or "February 2013" and not "01/02/13" or "02/01/13".
  • References should include as much of the following information as possible:
    • Title of the article, book, chapter, web page, ... (article, chapter, and web page names appear within double quotes, book names in italics)
    • URL linked to the title
    • Author of the article or book
    • Name of the work (if different from the title) and/or the name of the publisher (if not obvious from the name of the work)
      • the names of works are usually in italics, website and publisher names are in plain text
    • Volume number and/or issue number
    • Page number or page range within longer works
    • Date of publication
    • ISBN and/or doi
    • Reference date (always important, but particularly important when the date of publication isn't known and for websites whose content changes frequently)

--Jeff Ogden (W163) (talk) 15:01, 28 November 2013

Thanks for the directions to the citation templates, I'll begin to use them Deku-shrub (talk) 10:23, 29 November 2013 (UTC)

At 17:51 on 4 December 2013 a reference to the Wikipedia article Internet Watch Foundation and Wikipedia was reinserted by User:Deku-shrub with an edit summary of "Surely this entry needs to direct users to the main article - if this isn't the place, please put the else somewhere else relevant". I'd originally deleted this reference back on 29 November. User:Trivialist deleted the reference again, I think appropriately, at 20:47 on 4 December 2013. I just want to point out two things: (i) that there is already a wikilink to the Internet Watch Foundation and Wikipedia article in the See also section of this article and (ii) that according to WP:WPNOTRS "Wikipedia articles (or Wikipedia mirrors) are not reliable sources for any purpose" (emphasis in original) and WP:CIRCULAR covers this in more detail saying "Do not use articles from Wikipedia as sources". --Jeff Ogden (W163) (talk) 19:22, 5 December 2013 (UTC)

I feel users wanting to know more about that incident should be directed to that page. Perhaps a reference was the wrong way to do it, but I feel readers should be explicitly directed. Deku-shrub (talk) 17:00, 8 December 2013 (UTC)

Wikipedia entry[edit]

The Wikipedia entry in the table had read:

Site name Domain or URL Proxy domain Type of
Reason Blocked
Wikipedia[1][2] Virgin Killer record album article on Online encyclopedia potentially indecent
image of underage child
Internet Watch Foundation 5 December
unblocked by IWF on 9 December 2008

  1. ^ "Wikipedia falls foul of British censors", Bobbie Johnson, The Guardian, 7 December 2008. Retrieved 4 November 2013.
  2. ^ Internet Watch Foundation and Wikipedia

At 14:14 on 28 November 2013 this was changed by User:Deku-shrub to read as shown below with an edit summary of "removing the 'potential' element to reflect the blocking reason. In the eyes of the IWF it's illegal and that was the reason for blocking. Consistent now with Internet_Watch_Foundation_and_Wikipedia#Aftermath":

Site name Domain or URL Proxy domain Type of
Reason Blocked
Wikipedia[1][2] Virgin Killer record album article on Online encyclopedia child pornography[3] Internet Watch Foundation 5 December
unblocked by IWF on 9 December 2008

At 11:54 on 29 November 2013‎ I restored this with an edit summary comment "restore what is more or less a direct quote from the IWF taken from the The Guardian's 7 December 2008 article, the deleted ref contained a quote which was taken unfairly out of context, see talk page".

I reverted the change for several reasons:

  • Reference 3 is poorly formatted and so the source for the quote and who is being quoted is not clear. The formatting couldl have been fixed, but given the other issues that didn't seem to be the best solution.
  • This would have been the only table entry that gave "child pornography" as a reason. Other entries all use the "indecent image(s) of underage child(children)" phrasing (without the word "potentially"). We should use common wording for the "Reason" column whenever possible to avoid implying unintended differences.
  • The full sentence from which the quote from reference 3 is taken is "After a vigorous public debate, the IWF withdrew its block, issuing a confusing and contradictory statement to the effect that even though the image is truly child pornography, they won't block it, unless it's on a British server, in which case they might." Quoting just a portion of the sentence gives a different impression than quoting the entire sentence. And given the way the quoted article is written, it isn't clear if the quote is from the IWF or from the article's author.
  • Earlier in the same paragraph from which the quote in reference 3 was taken it says, "Many reasonable people believed that the classification of the record cover was an error in judgement." This is the other side of the issue and presenting only one side isn't WP:NPOV.
  • The article from reference 1 includes this statement from the IWF, "The content was considered to be a potentially illegal indecent image of a child under the age of 18… and the specific URL was then added to the list." This was the source for the wording before the change.
--Jeff Ogden (W163) (talk) 17:37, 29 November 2013 (UTC)
I accept your point of view there - but I was hoping to push the citations and discussions back over to Internet_Watch_Foundation_and_Wikipedia#Aftermath through my actions, currently the two statements don't match up again - since the whole affair has a dedicated page, it makes sense to sort out the facts there and cite / share citations through to this page. Deku-shrub (talk) 19:09, 1 December 2013 (UTC)

The "Proxy domain" column[edit]

A couple of times earlier on this talk page I suggested that we were probably going to have to delete the "Proxy domain" column, saying:

  • Several of the references are to what I suspect are less than reliable third-party sources. This is particularly true of the new "Proxy URL" column. What can we do about this? Without reliable sources, we may need to delete the Proxy URL column and perhaps a few of the rows as well. [21:53, 19 November 2013 (UTC)]
  • Without references to reliable third-party sources, I think we'll probably need to delete the proxy column. I don't think it is a matter of using a different page or at least not a different page within Wikipedia. [13:46, 23 November 2013 (UTC)]

I think that that time has come and I'm planning to delete the Proxy domain column in a week or so unless more discussion here convinces me that it isn't necessary or isn't a good idea. The reason I think the Proxy domain column needs to be removed is that:

  • only 6 of the 21 rows in the table have an entry in the column,
  • 3 of those 6 rows have one or more crossed out domain entries,
  • one row cites no source and is flagged as citation needed,
  • 4 out of the 8 sources cited in the column are flagged as questionable,
  • 3 more are references to TorrentFreak, which I am still somewhat uneasy about, and
  • depending on how you count TorrentFreak, that leaves either one or perhaps 4 good references.

We can move the crossed out items from the Proxy domain column to the blocked Domain or URL column if there is a source that indicates that the proxy domain is itself blocked. I don't see the Proxy domain column as adding a lot of useful information to this article. I think it would be reasonable to talk about proxies, without necessarily giving a complete list of them, elsewhere in this article or perhaps better in the Internet censorship in the United Kingdom article. The Proxy domain column takes up a lot of space. If we can get rid of it, we might recover enough width to be able to add a new column for notes that would be a place to link to other articles or provide short explanations that aren't otherwise clear from the entries in the table. At least this is my thinking now. --Jeff Ogden (W163) (talk) 18:56, 8 December 2013 (UTC)

Okay, I'm thinking that notable proxies should be merged into the main column. But the revised scope of the column needs to reflect this potentially. Bear in mind, the court order details are secret and so there's an ongoing element of speculation! Deku-shrub (talk) 11:20, 9 December 2013 (UTC)

Format and layout of the table[edit]

I was looking at the List of websites blocked in China article earlier today and was struck by the fact that the layout of the table in that article seemed to be cleaner than the layout of the table in this article. Others might take a look and see what they think. I like the fact that the table in the China article includes a site's Alexa Rank. The China table seems to have less line wrapping within columns than the UK table. The China table only has one item per row. The "condensed" format in the UK table has multiple items in a row, which pretty much makes sorting on the Site name, Domain or URL, or Proxy domain columns useless. Can we learn anything from the China table that might help us improve this article? --Jeff Ogden (W163) (talk) 19:13, 8 December 2013 (UTC)

Interesting. We've a number of differences in approach, for example the reliance on sporadic notable reporting produces far less consistent results than that pages which is mostly pulled and verified against I've actually personally studied how to detected IWF filtered sites which I've put here, but other than, there are not similarly reliable data on such blocks.
Anyhow, I like their merging to start and end data columns, I would encourage the same. I might investigate the Alexa rank at some point and see if it helps with site notability etc Deku-shrub (talk) 11:17, 9 December 2013 (UTC)
I wasn't able to pull meaningful Alexa data as some sites have plummeted following blocks, but half have simply switched domains which Alexa doesn't handle AFAIK Deku-shrub (talk) 15:43, 15 December 2013 (UTC)

Interest in the matter[edit]

Things have gone full circle, with Torrentfreak citing Reddit citing me citing Wikipedia now. Cards on the table Deku-shrub (talk) 14:37, 17 December 2013 (UTC)

Listing of proxy sites[edit]

Lite edit-warring is taking place over the inclusion of the proxy domains that are being blocked. Personally I'm in favour of their inclusion, this is a list page after all, but open to hearing opinions to the contrary. Please discuss the issue here :) Deku-shrub (talk) 18:19, 22 July 2015 (UTC)

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