This guest post is by Rick of www.morebettersmarts.com.
Filtering software may be blocking your blog from being accessed on government computers.
When I first put my blog online, I discovered that my friends on the local military base were prevented from viewing it by the government’s filtering service, Blue Coat.
As none of my posts contained any questionable content, I was interested to find out why my blog was blocked. More importantly, as there are literally millions of federal workers worldwide, I wanted to ensure blog was seen by this audience.While this information pertains specifically to the Blue Coat filtering service, it no doubt applies to other filtering agencies. Blue Coat just seems to be one of the more popular services used by the Department of Defence (DoD) and other government agencies.
Also note the information provided isn’t a way to circumvent the filtering service. The method used is perfectly legal, and I worked through Blue Coat to get it resolved.
When my friends on the military base attempted to access my blog, a very official-looking page popped up with the heading, “ACCESS DENIED.” Further down the page explained that my site was blocked as its “Webfilter Category” was classified as “Blogs/Personal Pages.”
The page also included specific information about contacting the Blue Coat Webpage Review Site if there were any problems. That link is: http://sitereview.bluecoat.com/sitereview.jsp
Clicking the link took me to a simple form that allowed me to enter my URL to see how my blog was categorized. I entered my site name, and clicked Check Rating. Sure enough, my site was classified as Blogs/Personal Pages, and was thus blocked by the DoD computers.
In addition to seeing your site’s category, the review page also provides a form that you can use to easily request a review of your site. This is how you go about getting it reclassified.
There were several dozen categories to choose from via a drop-down menu, and I was initially unsure of which to choose. However, Blue Coat allows you to enter the name of any site to review, so I looked at a couple of blogs that I patterned mine after, to see how they were classified.
Several of these were classified as Reference, so I decided to use this category. I also checked with my friends on the military base that the sites using this classification could be accessed. They verified this, so I was good to go.
I selected “Reference” from the drop-down menu, and didn’t bother with the optional second category. In the comments, I wrote:
www.morebettersmarts.com has the stated mission of “Providing practical wisdom to improve your life and work, home, and play.” The site provides articles on health and fitness, public speaking, life hacks, and productivity. The site is currently listed as Blogs/Personal Pages, but should be classified as Reference. Thank you for your review.
I then clicked the box asking the results be sent to me via email, selected Blue Coat ProxySG as the filtering service, clicked the Submit for Review button, and crossed my fingers.
The actual review process only took a few hours, and I received an email stating my site was now reclassified as Reference. However, it took around 24-48 hours for the government servers to catch up to this change. After that, my blog was made available to several million federal workers. Now only if it would be viewed by several million federal workers, I could probably blog full-time…
A few issues
Of course, your site could also fall under one of the many other classifications regularly blocked by filtering software. For example, if your site is categorized as Political or Entertainment, it will most likely continue to be blocked, so you’re probably out of luck.
Additionally, a note you’ll see all over the Blue Coat site is the filtering service doesn’t decide which sites are filtered. It’s up to the agency or company to make this determination. For example, if the federal government wanted to allow sites classified as Blogs/Personal Pages, there wouldn’t have been an issue.
If you’re new to blogging, there’s a good chance your site is classified as a blog by these filtering services. Hopefully, this quick and legal fix will open your site to a great new source of traffic.
Rick is the owner/author of ‘More Better Smarts,’ supplying practical wisdom to help improve your life at work, home, and play. Visit Rick at www.morebettersmarts.com.