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Looking for some censorship circumvention advice here... I'm getting reports that @write_as is now blocked in China: discuss.write.as/t/write-as-in

What's the best thing we can do on our end to work around this?

Quickest solution seems to be serving the site on a new domain name... We're already set up for this, but there are some downsides.

- Anonymous posts stored in the browser won't work anymore, since they're stored with the write.as domain.
- Leads to user sessions across different domains, with no central way to manage them at the moment
- Mobile apps aren't set up for alternative domains

@matt As a Chinese and a 7/24 VPN user I'm so touched by this toot. I'm used to not being treated as a world netizen under GFW, am used to finding my own way & taking more effort to reach thousands of blocked websites. This is maybe first time in my experience that someone would like to help from outside. Thank you.

It seems an additional domain without changing the original one would be a good solution right now. I'm not good with techniques, would it be possible to set up proxy and point the additional domain to the original one? Just a thought...

@flyover I'm really glad to hear that. I'm more than happy to do it! I think there's no reason you should have to go through all that work just to use the sites you enjoy.

Decided to go with the additional domain -- it was relatively simple to set up. That's actually available now here: writeas.xyz

@matt

1. GFW appears to be using DNS filtering to block write.as. [1,2]
Its IP address (174.143.201.208) is still reachable from China. [3]

2. The recommended way is setting up a secondary domain, optionally over a reverse proxy if necessary.

3. Users in China may switch to DNS-over-HTTPS or edit the hosts file to manually resolve the domain, if they don't have a VPN/proxy. Major DoH providers are usually blocked there too; some smaller ones such as dns.sb/doh are still accessible atm.

[1] blocky.greatfire.org/detail/33
[2] blocky.greatfire.org/api/url_t
[3] boce.com/ping/174.143.201.208

@strawberry Thank you, this is really helpful!

I'm working on getting a new domain up now. Apparently, linked domains like our CDN (cdn.writeas.net) are blocked, too, so I guess I'll need to put that the new domain too.

@matt

Thank you so much for your dedication to Chinese users.

The primary domain of my Mastodon instance (cmx.im) has been blocked in China for years. The easiest way around this is to acquire brand new domains as alternative domains for the instance and media CDN. My instance has 4 different backup domains now. However, if the cops are actively monitoring your circumvention attempts, they will promptly block your new domains as well. :notlikethis:

@strawberry Wow, 4 domains! Yeah, hopefully they won't notice the new domain for a while. But we'll be more prepared if that happens again.

New domain is available here: writeas.xyz

@matt @write_as maybe publish a guide on accessing with a VPN that lives on a separate domain?

@mike Thanks, yep I think this is what we'll do.

@matt @write_as I'm not being rude here as I love the service you provide and use it myself but isn't write.as a little small and insignificant to attract the attention of the Chinese authorities? I mean you're not exactly wordpress or tumblr are you?

Or do you have an small, active user base in China? Just curious....

@andyc We actually get the majority of our 5 million daily views from Asia, with much of it coming from China.

Another user on a locked toot explained a bit:

> It's interesting that nobody knows how the GFW works exactly. Based on some observations, it's offen triggered by reports of some pages on your site. For example, if your site has some articles about sex, drugs or gambling, someone may report them to the office.

@andyc

> A quick glance reveals that most user in China use write.as as a community of Chinese transformative works (i.e. a substitute of AO3).

And this is what I've seen. It's likely that people have published content on Write.as that would normally be censored, and someone reported it.

@matt Fascinating. Thanks for the info. Please try to keep the service available.

@matt
@write_as

Suggest different DNS providers.

Create alternate domains (like the .xyz you just created).

Redesign the software so it doesn't rely on domain cookies or the domain.

Provide .onion (@torproject) and .i2p (@i2p) sites to access the same content. Ditto for #gemini but that's a different ball game.

Suggest #VPN providers, start with the ones blocked in Russia like @ivpn

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