Discussions of Mormons and Mormon life, Book of Mormon issues and evidences, and other Latter-day Saint (LDS) topics.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

A Fatal Blow to My Testimony of . . . the Times and Seasons Blog

Times and Seasons is one of the most established and best LDS blogs with a variety of great writers and in depth discussions. But tonight, my testimony of that fine blog was shattered when a friend suggested I try accessing it while I was waiting for a meeting in an LDS stake center. Suddenly I got this frightening warning message (click to enlarge):



Yikes! All this time I thought Times and Seasons was just a good-ol' Mormon blog. I had no idea I had been lured into a site about "Non-Traditional Religions and Occult and Folklore." That occult part was scary enough, but to learn that it also dealt with folklore--whoa, you have to admit that sounds like some kind of cult.

Fortunately, I saw that Mormanity was not blocked by the filter there. At least not yet. (Maybe first thing tomorrow morning, though.) This blog is just a good ol' Mormon blog about my very traditional Mormon faith. You can bet I'm not going to start messing with any of that folklore stuff here.

Of course, when I'm home alone and no one is filtering what I surf, I might still give into temptation every now and then and take a scandalous peak at Times and Seasons.



OK, on a serious note, when LDS facilities do have Internet service, they are meant for Church use and are likely to be password protected for use by those on Church business. It's good policy to have strong filters in place. Anytime a commercial filtering service is used, all sorts of anomalies are likely. It looks like a third-party automated system is in place that may have misclassified a fine LDS blog (or maybe some article or comment was problematic and that has hurt the whole site in the filtering system). I've seen my own mild-mannered pages at JeffLindsay.com banned by various commercial filters for content labeled as occult, hate speech, or inappropriate humor. It is usually possible to request reconsideration of an unfair classification, and I hope someone will do that in this case and allow Church servers to deliver delicious helpings of Times and Seasons--and make sure they get me properly blocked (turns out there is a bit of folklore here after all and just a touch of non-traditional religion).

Bottom line: anomalies happen, but it's good to have Internet filters on Church-provided wifi. It's just odd that I'd be able to get pass the filters, especially with questionable content like tonight's post.

24 comments:

Andrew S said...

It would be interesting to see if the other big blogs are blocked? e.g., By Common Consent, Mormon Matters, fMh, etc., etc.,

it could be that you are just under the radar.

Jackson Davis said...

Hmmm... I wonder if Defy The Consensus us blocked too! Probably is, we've only been writing for a few weeks now.

Carl Youngblood said...

Yeah, Jeff, can you check on other popular Mormon blogs? I would be interested in seeing that.

Kim Siever said...

Ha ha!

I should check out Out Thoughts.

John C. said...

At my work, By Common Consent is sometimes (but only sometimes) blocked for being "Adult/Mature"

MAC said...

"Church-provided wifi"?!!

From those of us who have held Church meetings in a pool hall, you people are from a different planet.

Kaimi said...

We don't need readers like you, Jeff. The Great Earth Goddess Hecuba will see to all of our needs. :P

(I'm not surprised that we got caught by a filter. It's happened before -- we were church-blocked briefly for a few days, and then it was lifted. I'm not sure how the decisions are made, but I have the vague impression that there is usually automatic software involved in the blocking, and that unblocking is manual.)

Kaimi said...

John C.,

That sounds right, since BCC is sometimes (but not always) mature.

Keri Brooks said...

Feminist Mormon Housewives sometimes gets blocked at work because the filter calls it sexually explicit.

openminded said...

Ha, that'd be ironic to a non-LDS.

Chronetics said...

Yes, inputing home teaching has become much harder now that the filters have blocked Gmail and our Elder's Quorum e-mail address...

Bishop: President, I show 0% home teaching for the last three months!

EQ Pres: Ask IT about it, Bishop.

Anonymous said...

Wifi- Why would the church be paying for that? I cannot think how it is needed.

Ben S said...

That's nothing Jeff. I once had lds.org blocked for lingerie! Check out the screenshot.

http://cl.ly/aca5f254eff090fd78ee

Alison Moore Smith said...

Hah! We are pretty darn wild over there! I think I'll blame Kaimi. ;D

Anonymous said...

OMG! It sounds like the filters $cientologists have on their personal computers.

I thought you guys believed in free agency or, at least, being independent adults.

Jeff Lindsay said...

Believing in agency doesn't mean you have to use your private property and resources to give people access to sin.

Bookslinger said...

wifi is used in most chapels that have a Family History Center. That way, people can bring in their own computers and get online without having to go wired.

The Family History Centers' own computers can then be wireless too.

As far as I know, all Family History Centers have Internet access. (You have to with the new temple submission system.)

And if you get a router for the FHC's computers, it might as well be wireless in addition to wired.

Anonymous said...

"Believing in agency doesn't mean you have to use your private property and resources to give people access to sin."

...or, assumedly, respecting the First Amendment of the US Constitution.

It's one thing not to approve of "sin" or accessing or considering information. It's another altogether to deliberately engage in blocking information and prohibiting access to ideas which may or may not even be "sinful".

But if you and the $cientologists are comfortable with this approach I guess it's no skin off my nose. After all, I am free to access and consider information from a variety of sources and the spectrum of human thought. ...so long as I stay out of LDS chapels, apparently.

Anonymous said...

LOL, remember that the content (media, aka books, magazines, newspapers, web pages) is delivered by the mail man, newspaper delivery boy, internet service provider. Whoever has media in their possession always does a certain amount of filtering. Don't believe me? Try going to your local library and getting any sort of book that has been published. Librarians make decisions on what to purchase based on their constituency. Likewise, I would not expect a religious organization to deliver content (insert your favorite form of media) that goes contrary to what they believe (aka their constituency). I have no problem going to church and not finding "offending" material available to me. I like to think that church is a refuge from this sort of stuff.

Bookslinger said...

Anonymous at 12:49 pm doesn't understand what the 1st amendment is. The 1st amendment restricts government actions, not private individuals or groups.

Failure of the church to provide conduit for certain speech through its own privately owned (not public) property/infrastructure (wifi, lan, etc) is not against the 1st amendment.

Bookslinger said...

Jeff, re: T&S getting filtered. Maybe Adam Greenwood was right about T&S being nigh unto apostates. :-)

Michael said...

Most chapels in the US and Canada are getting wireless. Ours was installed in each of our four buildings in our stake by the stake IT director. It is used by the clerks, the Bishops, and the FHC. We also allow access to members for classes and for lessons. I use it on my iPad every Sunday. It is not hard to get the password. However, I have not had T&S banned in our building.

Nathan S. said...

The 1st Ammendment was designed to safeguard "free" speech rather than "forced" speech. To mandate the LDS Church to provide content without filters want would be to dictate its speech by requiring it to "electronically quote" others.

Not filtering would be failure to use such rights. Denying the right to filter denies the Church its 1st Ammendment right to "quote" / speak as it wishes.

Jeff Lindsay said...

I checked and found that nearly all the LDS blogs on my blogroll get past the filter except for Times and Seasons, Messenger and Advocate, and the Backyard Professor. Must be Kerry's salty language, eh?