Our Discourse is blocked by The Great Firewall of China, any tips?


(Joshua Granick) #1

Hello everyone,

We have developer forums hosted in Discourse, and it is currently blocked (by timeout) by The Great Firewall of China, or so I think.

I was concerned that Akismet or some other behavior in Discourse could be blocking Chinese IP addresses wholesale, but I am not sure if this is the case.

I was wondering anyone had tips with getting Discourse to be acceptable to the firewall?

Is there some way to mirror a Discourse forum, to try and host from multiple IP addresses?


(Jeff Atwood) #2

Are you self hosted or hosted by us?


(Joshua Granick) #3

This is currently self-hosted under a VPS at Linode in Fremont, CA

Interested in what kinds of options (such as using a CDN or using paid Discourse hosting) might make a difference

Thanks :smile:


(Matt Palmer) #4

Discourse itself, as a general technology, doesn’t appear to be on any permanent blocklists. In my experience, the key to not getting a given site blocked by the GFoC is to not piss off the Chinese Government. That means:

  1. Don’t have any talk about Falun Gong, criticism of the regime, or similarly politically controversial topics on your site.
  2. Don’t compete with anything run by a Chinese company.

Mirroring of content to anywhere else outside of China is unlikely to last long, as they’ll find it again and block it. Mirroring it inside China will just result in it getting taken down, possibly with adverse consequences for whoever inside China is responsible for it.

Your best bet is probably to make the site available as a Tor hidden service, and essentially piggy-back off Tor’s continuous efforts to evade the GFoC. Another option might be to develop a domain-fronting-capable app (probably based on our mobile native apps) and host it on GCE, but that’s an awful lot of work.

How sure are you that your site, specifically, has been blocked? What are the chances that the whole netblock you’re in has gotten into trouble? If it’s a straight-up connection timeout block, it could be a whole-block block, rather than a content block. Packet captures from someone inside China could be informative as to what exactly is going on, but simply moving your site to a different provider might solve all your problems quite easily.


(xiasummer) #5

Got the same problem. How did you solve this problem?

Change a new domain? Change a new IP?


(Stephen Chung) #6

I’ve always found that it is a combination of domain name plus IP. Try not to have words like forum or discuss etc. in your domain name as it is then suspicious to the regime. For example, meta works just fine in China, as is many of my sites hosted on Azure.

If you get an IP that was blocked previously, there is no simple way to get it whitelisted again. You just have to move to another one.