A few days ago I started to receive messages and tweets that my blog was not working. That happens sometimes so I did not pay much attention to it. Until I realized that I could still see it in the US on my laptop, but not on my China Mobile phone using GPRS. Also all the people that had contacted me were based in China. A quick check revealed that my blog was ‘harmonized’ as the Chinese euphemistically call it.
Why would my blog be blocked? I don’t think it’s because of the content. I do not write much about political issues, and even if I would I don’t think that would matter much (you can get away with a lot more in China than most people think). I think it likely has to do with my hosting provider GoDaddy.com. I received a message from them that they migrated my content to a new non-dedicated server (without informing me about it in advance, this also caused an outage of a couple of hours), and likely there is some stuff on this server that didn’t pass the censor’s test. In that case all the content on that particular server will be inaccessible from China…
This happened to me with another domain as well a few months ago, also with GoDaddy. At that time I got in touch with them to change that domain to a different IP address, but they could not guarantee that IP would not be blocked in China. Eventually I was forced to move the domain to another hosting provider. I am doing the same with this blog now, however, while doing that it turned out that my credit card was blocked as well!
That was not related to China of course, and when I called my bank they told me that they blocked it because of some transactions in San Francisco. I told them that that was correct, because that’s where I was at that time. “Sorry sir, we did not know this”. Right, but it’s not that I travel for the first time to San Francisco using this credit card.. Well, they unblocked the card, but now my new hosting provider lets me wait before I can change my nameservers. Anyway, hopefully in a few more days this blog should be accessible again within the Great Firewall. And if it isn’t that means that not the server was blocked, but that my blog itself is indeed considered harmful…
Why don’t you just host your blog in China and get a ICP license? That solves all your problems. I’ve been using Sino Hosting for over a year now, they respond fast and solve problems quite quick.
I don’t want to host my blog inside the Great Firewall, don’t want to risk losing all my posts if regulations should change. >80% of my readers are from outside China, so I prefer to keep the servers outside the PRC as well.
I agree that it is preferable to have your hosting provider outside of China. Having one in China is a big pain as your site will likely only be fast in China, not outside. Also Chinese (and European) providers tend to charge obnoxious fees for services that are standard included with most US based hosts.
GoDaddy is known to cause a lot of problems for/to people and I think it is a very wise decision to leave them!
I host on a cheap VPS that assign me a unique IP address. A basic XEN VPS can cost as little as $20/month including a dedicated IP, and be much better technically as I’m sure you know than shared hosting. I use Rimuhosting myself.
Two major US technology companies, Dell and Go Daddy, have threatened to pull out of China in the wake of Google’s departure from the country.
I think it solved the mystery.