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Tales From The Closed Web: Working with WordPress Censorship in China


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China is the largest community of Internet users in the world. However, a complex network of bureaucrats, paid trolls, and digital blockades known as the Great Firewall of China has made it difficult for those on the outside to reach the Middle Kingdom. With knowledge and stories from his experiences working with WordPress for many years in Shanghai, John will explain how WordPress gets censored in China and the considerations required for your site to reach the world’s second largest economy.

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Tales From The Closed Web: Working with WordPress Censorship in China

  1. 1. Tales From The Closed Web John P. Gamboa @jgamboa WordCamp US 2016 Working With WordPress Censorship in China
  2. 2. @jgamboa • Technical Success Manager • 2.75 years at WP Engine • Singapore 2009 • South Korea 2010 • China 2011-2013 • Austin 2014 - Present
  3. 3. Shanghai, China 2011 -2013
  4. 4. Danny and Jesse
  5. 5. Blocked in China
  6. 6. Great Firewall of China • Most pervasive form of Internet censorship • Many foreigners pay for VPNs for full web access • Many top Alexa sites blocked • DNS poisoning/filtering • World’s largest Internet population
  7. 7. But why? • Promotes Chinese “Internet sovereignty” • Control points allow for “Great Cannon” foreign DDoSing • Removes foreign competition • Prevents anti-CCP sites and gatherings • Allows monitoring, management and control
  8. 8. • China’s first-ever beer week • Host outside mainland China • Reach foreigners and locals alike • Can’t require a VPN Shanghai Beer Week
  9. 9. Blocked Plugins & Functionality • API/External WordPress calls • Politically-sensitive discussions (BBPress/Disqus) • Blocked IPs and domains on shared hosts • Jetpack,, Gravatar • Google (Plus, Fonts, Photos) • SSL
  10. 10. Developing Around Censorship • Know your blocked plugins • Avoid foreign social media services/APIs • Avoid SSL usage • You are responsible for your users • Hong Kong/Singapore hosting
  11. 11. • 96% all web traffic in China is within the mainland • River Crabs (河蟹), 50 Centers (五毛) & Big Mamas (大妈) • Avoid the Three “T’s” Knowing the System
  12. 12. If you get blocked • Confirm - - - • Ask your host for help - Noisy neighbors - Domain blocks - Change servers/hosts
  13. 13. The Future of WordPress in China • Continue to Support Non-English WordPress • Keep Publishing • Chinese WordPress community:
  14. 14. 结束 John P. Gamboa @jgamboa