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June 9, 2008

How Do You Know If Your Blog is Banned or Blocked?

bannedIn Has Your Blog Been Banned or Blocked?, I asked if your blog has been blocked or banned and how you found out, and what you did about it, if you could do anything. I recently published How to Access Banned WordPress.com Blogs in response to WordPress.com blogs being blocked and recent problems I’ve had trying to access my blogs and Gmail from various hotels and corporate WIFI firewalled networks.

From the stories people have shared, blocks and bans can happen from a variety of sources, not just from within a country. Blocks are in place within businesses, libraries, educational institutions, hotels, and even Internet cafes.

When a friend asked me how would she know if her blog was blocked from any potential readers, I thought it was a question worth investigating. How do you know if your blog is blocked or banned?
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June 7, 2008

Has Your Blog Been Banned or Blocked?

I recently published How to Access Banned WordPress.com Blogs, and a friend asked me how would she know if her blog is banned by a country, government, Internet Provider, company, school, or otherwise. Good question.

On Monday, I’ll be publishing a feature article on how to find out if your blog is banned and offer some options to get your blog off a ban or blocked list, but what about you?

Has your blog been blocked or banned by a government, educational institute, corporation, or web filtering service or program? How did you find out? Did you find out why your blog was blocked? Were you unable to get your blog unblocked?

Share your story with us.

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March 19, 2008

Four Israeli security staff allowed to write mundane blogs

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In an unusual move, Shin Bet, Israel’s domestic security agency, has allowed four of its employees to blog anonymously about their work life.

All four bloggers appear to be involved in fairly administrative roles, with such fascinating snippets as, “You don’t stay at work unless you really have to. It’s rare for me to come home after 6.30pm,” and “I didn’t get a siren to put on my car and I too have to sit in traffic jams.”

Their identities are hidden behind silhouetted portraits, and they use just their initials.

The reason for allowing these blogs? To win over hi-tech recruits.

As the blogs are written in Hebrew, I can’t tell you if they get any more exciting, but it’s somewhat surprising for an agency so heavily involved in security to be sanctioning these blogs, even if they are vetted.

shin-tech.org.il (Via The Guardian)

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February 11, 2008

Blogging the Olympic Games

Olympic Games Rings and torchWhen the international Olympic Games begin, everyone has an opinion on who will win, who should have won, and anything and everything Olympic. As the Olympic Games get closer, I thought I’d research some information to help you blog about the upcoming games in China.

There are a lot of stories and angles to be found on the Olympic Games, from historical perspectives and comparisons to personal interest stories such as the impact of the games on the communities in which they are held, and how the infrastructure and changes brought about by the games help or hinder the community years later. If you are looking for Olympic material for your blog, think about local human interest stories such as a community member who was in the Olympics or traveled to see the Olympics and get their inside story. The Olympics impacts everyone everywhere, so there is an Olympic story around every corner.

The official sites for the upcoming Olympic Games include:
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January 29, 2008

Google launches Arabic version of Blogger

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Google’s Blogger service, familiar to a myriad of bloggers around the world, has just launched support for the Arabic language.

“We’re really excited to be launching Blogger in Arabic,” said Siobhan Quinn, Product Manager at Google. “Blogger’s always been about allowing people to communicate, connect with each other, and share ideas in an easily accessible way; it’s great to bring this platform to this community.”

Promises of the service improving throughout the coming year.

Not much else to say, except that it’s good to see Western companies continuing to expand their services beyond the standard English defaults.

(Via Business Intelligence Middle East)

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January 2, 2008

First Saudi blogger, Fouad al-Farhan, arrested

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The BBC reports that Fouad al-Farhan is the first blogger from Saudi Arabia to be arrested, allegedly for the content of his blog.

Though it can’t be proven that he has been arrested as a direct result of what he blogs about “searching for freedom, dignity, justice, equality, public participation and the other lost Islamic values”, the Saudi authorities say that he is being questioned for “violating non-security regulations”.

However, his blog is highly political, and it would not be a surprise if his support for a group of political reformists who were arrested last year has landed him in hot water with the authorities.

The BBC estimates that there are some 500 bloggers in Saudi Arabia, most of whom blog anonymously and under pseudonyms.

Though Farhan was arrested on 10th December last year, it took the authorities two weeks to acknowledge that he was being held.

Yet another case around the globe where blogging can seriously affect your personal freedom.

(Via BBC News)

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January 1, 2008

Help Translate WordPress For Your Readers and Everyone

I find that most English-written blogs offer international language translations, while few foreign language blogs offer translations in other languages. Why?

If you write a WordPress blog in a non-English language, consider adding a web translation Plugin to your blog so English speakers, and those in other languages, can read your blog.

My review of Translation and Multilingual WordPress Plugins may help, but the ones to start with are:
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December 24, 2007

Freedom of Speech and Anonymous Blogging

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The holidays are around the corner and some of us will be indulging ourselves in festivities. I thought this would be the perfect time to reflect on freedom within the blogosphere. I live in a relatively peaceful country where I can do or say whatever I want within the boundaries of the law. In the Netherlands the law is pretty keen on freedom of speech which sometimes leads to heated debates but at the same time allows me to speak my mind.

Freedom of speech is something I take for granted. Blogging is also something I take for granted.

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November 2, 2007

Blogging Outside of Your Community By Not Blogging in Your Native Tongue

Yesterday, I wrote an analogy of comparing blogging to dancing, and how it helps to know the steps, but I also addressed the issue of blogging in your native language compared to blogging in English.

Words carry a responsibility. They convey meaning. They reek with intent. Change a word and you change the meaning.

I’ve told this story before, but it bears repeating. While teaching English to a doctor in Israel, we practiced how to ask for directions on the street. After many attempts to stop a passerby, he came up with, “Excuse me, can you please help me?”

In the execution, as I “passed by” in the imaginary street of my apartment, map in hand he called out, “Excuse me, can you please me?”

One word, or the lack thereof, changed the whole intent. Such is the risk one takes when they write in a language in which they lack the appropriate fluency.

A person writing in a language that is not their own, especially when those words are published for all to read, may bear a responsibility to their readers to disclose that the language in the blog is not their native language, thus, giving readers a chance to forgive them before they correct them. Once we know, we are a very forgiving lot. If we don’t know, we can be a vicious gang with our attacks.
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September 8, 2007

Deutsche Welle Announces the BOBs: Best of the Blogs

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Deutsche Welle has announced the 2007 Best of the Blogs competition, where blogs from around the world compete for the prestige of being considered the “best” from among 15 categories, including best weblog, best podcast, best videoblog, Blogwurst award, and best weblog in each of the 10 eligible languages. A Reporters Without Borders award will also be given to an eligible blogger who takes a strong stance on freedom of information online.

Partnering with Reporters Without Borders for this year’s competition, the main goals of the BOBs are to “present a wide spectrum of the blogsphere and to
encourage a language-crossing dialogue through this new form of media,” and also to “support bloggers in countries where freedom of speech and press are limited,” according to Deutsche Welle editor-in-chief Uta Thofern.

Nomination is open throughout September this year, and finalists would be selected by October 10th and winners by November 10th. The jury is comprised of bloggers, journalists and media experts from around the globe. The awarding ceremony will be held on November 15th in Berlin, Germany.

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