Bugs in the Great Firewall

To surf on the Internet at home is becoming painful recently. I have to say, I has been driven mad for all the strange behaviors in the great censorship plan. When I click on some of the result website in Google, it is not uncommon that I get the “The Page Cannot be Displayed” error.


Bugs in the Great Firewall

I believe there must be some bugs in the Great Firewall. If you think I am talking about the holes on the firewall that allow users within the firewall to access banned site, you will be disappointed. It seems the bugs in the software of the firewall have put a lot of “good site” into the blocklist. Disclaimer: I have no proof to say so, just guess from the behavior of my browser.


The behavior of the Great Firewall was still predictable at the time when Google was banned. At that time, whenever I see a site unaccessible, I can think of a reason for it. For example:

Google was banned, since it returned “unhealthy content” – according to the media.

Blog*Spot was banned, since it provide much noise from individuals.

BBC.com.uk and TIMES.com was banned, since it provide “negative” report to the government

MIT.edu was banned, because ………


(Google ban was unlifted, and Blog*Spot was reported not be banned by the firewall. Instead, there is some technical difficulties)

After some time, people just take it for granted that these sites do not exists in the world at all.

Current buggy firewall

The current version of the firewall seems mad. Many website were unaccessible and I cannot find a reason for it. Why is the homepage of an airport considered “unsuitable” for readers in the country? I cannot understand.

Possible reasons

Friends of mine also complain that many website cannot be accessed. “The Page cannot be displayed” page in IE is frequently visited page. There are two possible reasons:

1) The China Telecom is experiencing technical difficulties. I am using ADSL provided by China Telecom. I hope it is the reason, but it seems unlikely. Sometimes, the home page of a website can be accessed, and most of the pages are OK, just certain pages cannot be accessed. It seems there is a great agrithms behind big Internet and determine certain pages of a site are different than others on the site and should be treated differently.

So the second reason may be

2) There are bugs in the Great Firewall. Since the software has been widely implemented to all the ISPs, they must have a method to judge which site should be blocked and which will not. It must not be on a block list basis since the increasing number of “unhealthy” content will grow faster than the grow of block list. So it may be content based or keyword based.

If there is anything wrong with a single point in the software, it will affects a lot of website, just like a little change in the crawler will result in the great changes to millions of website on ts result page.

This may be the current sitation.

9 thoughts on “Bugs in the Great Firewall

  1. Some news sites are banned. Because foreign newspapers and periodicals are not allowed to be published in mainland. Geocity and angelfire are banned too. Even sourceforge.net had been banned for some time.

  2. The worst thing is not that so many websites have been messed up but those who have done this are not accountable for what they have done. What a shame!

    Jianshuo: you are too nice to call those mess-ups “bugs.” They are not bugs, they are “features!” I remember I read a piece of news about “a great advancement of China’s AI technology,” which proudly claimed that software developed by Chinese scientists was able to distinguish “black contents” from “red contents.” You call such features bugs, while some people would like to call them “Chinese characteristics.”

  3. My website was blocked for a long time, even before I came to China. I still don’t know why – now I’ve gotten around the block by moving to a different virtual host. I think that one of the techniques they use for the Great Firewall is simply to ban IP ranges and nameservers, which would explain why so many perfectly innocent sites get banned for no apparent reason.

  4. yeah, i think it’s both technical difficult and bugz..

    I.E, sometimes i can reach my old site at brinkster, but most of time, can’t access it at all, which i belive it was blocked…

  5. another thing always piss me off, when i come to seach image on google, after viewing 2 or 3 pages, google dosn’t responde at all, so i have to wait about 10-15 mins to back again… strange behavor ???

  6. i had the same problem on google images for pictures of an author. i noticed that one of the images loaded from a banned site (bbc uk) and it kicked me off google for about the next 30 minutes. arghhh!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! sooooooooooooo frustrating.

  7. sorry to bump an old topic, but have there been any advances in finding ways to get through the firewall? i’m trying to get through to an angelfire site at the moment. email me at superdigg at gmail.com

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