Sonicwall thinks XKCD is porn. Stick figure porn.

Nathaniel sez, "Sonicwall, the web content filtering vendor, now blocks XKCD as "Adult/Mature". A STICK FIGURE COMIC is now too mature for the internet. Classic."
As of this week I can no longer see XKCD at my office, due to SonicWall, a content filter service my company subscribes to. It is not blocked as "Adult/Mature Content". As this is the same service some businesses that offer public wifi use (Panera Bread in particular), this may mean XKCD has been dropped from a lot of public places.

I don't blame you, guy. I blame SonicWall. They're most anal about the smallest things. Only recently has my office gotten access again to MySpace, which was also listed as "Adult/Mature". was listed as "Occult"; now it's still blocked, but listed as "Other". My best guess is that what did it for XKCD was the sexual positions far as I can tell, these people have little brain and less sense of humor.

SonicWall now blocks XKCD (Thanks, Nathaniel!)



  1. Do these blocking services just block everything that gets tagged?

    It is not blocked as “Adult/Mature Content”

    It’s not?

  2. There are a lot of ways for something to be mature – sure they are just stick figures but I can see the sort of people who are all about filtering objecting to some of the content via subject matter and possibly language.

    I like XKCD and I see why it getting filtered sets off some alarms but I can also see how some people would agree with the filtering. On basic principle I would oppse filtering but this doesn’t seem out of line with the positions and motivations of those who do filter.

  3. If only Nathaniel could find a good, justifiable business reason for needing to read XKCD, then he’d be able to complain to his company and get something done about it. Ideas, anyone?

  4. hell, same company blocked at my friends work place, tagging it as an occult/adult website… LOL all it really is, is a chainmaile tutorial site. I wonder what the brains there are thinking.

  5. I’m surprised Nathaniel’s wasn’t blocked for using the word “anal”… Sonicwall must be broken.

  6. Subscribe to XKCD’s feed in Google Reader & suck it in that way, I might be wrong but I think everything comes in view Google then. Plus, use Ffx & the customizegoogle addon for max obfuscation.

  7. Hey, sysadmin here. I’ve managed multiple sonicwalls in my day job and yes they do block a lot of stuff by default, but that’s a good thing. The controls that filter content are Extremely granular, so, the onus is on your network admin. If I was you, I wouldn’t complain to him, but rather talk to him one on one and ask if you could have it unblocked, so that you can read it on your breaks. If all else fails, you could just use a CGI proxy to bypass the sonicwall entirely.

  8. I’m sure fear of getting sued for not blocking something, causes these filtering companies to over-censor everything. So popular sites get blocked, while there are millions and millions of pages that deserve blocking, but never make it into the black list.

  9. I have purchased SonicWall network appliances in the past. I am not down with content filtering, but they do have a feature where if you attempt to connect your Windows box to THE INTERNET without up-to-date virus software, you are DENIED ACCESS until you remedy the defect.

    Maybe they didn’t invent the tech, but that’s a darn good feature. If only ALL access points did this.

    (I bought it because it did “always on” VPN stuff that my business partners needed.)

  10. When using the wifi at my local Panera on Sunday, I was able to see XKCD without problems. I have noticed though, that everything from TinyURL gets blocked, which is pretty inconvenient.

  11. Hmmm, not trying to sound critical or anything, but this sounds like you guys are blowing this out of the water. You know “Adult/Mature” can mean more than just porn. It can also mean an adult or mature comic, which XKCD is obviously guilty of. I’m sure you guys’ stance on censorship is “LET INFORMATION BE FREE” but this is a private company’s filter. And blocking a comic that jokes about sexual positions from a work and school seems appropriate enough.

  12. what would happen if the term “sonicwall” were to be imbedded in a great deal of porn? What if “sonicwall” became defacto synonymous with say, gay badger smut?

  13. anti-censorship googlebombing, takuan?

    If I had my choice, the first target would be Websense. They were the bane of my high school existence.

  14. Haineux says: “but they do have a feature where if you attempt to connect your Windows box to THE INTERNET without up-to-date virus software, you are DENIED ACCESS until you remedy the defect.”

    So what you’re saying is that in order to use it, you have to provide a backdoor where an external box can check exactly how up-to-date you are.

    How do you, as the Windows user, verify that it’s the firewall asking, rather than some malicious pwned box on the network? I mean, if the pwned box is able to tell how up-to-date you are, it will also know what vulnerabilities it can toss your way and not worry about them being detected.

    Just the sort of reason why many security guides recommend disabling version/release info in outward-facing banners and the like…

    (And an aside to Nathaniel, who started us off by saying “these people have little brain and less sense of humor” – not quite right. They have brains, and sense of humor – but their business model depends on pleasing that segment of the society that is lacking in those areas. Gotta pay the bills somehow…)

  15. Thank GOD!
    Finally, some really good stick figure Porn!!!

    Thank GOD! (again)
    I got rid of my Sonicwall years ago!

    >sudo sonicwall make me a sandwich

  16. ZOMG!!! graphic evidence of sonicwall gay badger sex!!!! Well OK, maybe just sex, BUT SONICWALL BADGER SEX!!!!

  17. do you think sonicwall shareholders have begun to dump their santorum-like holdings as liabilities?
    I mean, “sonicwall” has become associated with “santorum” overnight (or samenight). Well that and the badger sex.

  18. Can’t you use an anonymizer to view these blocked sites? At the hospital where I used to work we used anonymouse and a few others to view sites that weren’t allowed. Also, isn’t there a flash drive tunneler that would work? I haven’t used a tunneler, but I believe that’s what they’re designed to do – let you access sites or streaming data from blocked sites.

  19. Stick figure porn? That’s definitely a new fetish category – and just in time for Christmas.

  20. Well, at my workplace BoingBoing is blocked and labeled as ‘tasteless’, so there you go…

    Going around the filter or installing software is ground for termination.

    Google reader it is for me (without pictures). Gmail… I can unlock 15 minutes at a time, twice a day.

    Worst thing is the workplace is otherwise pleasant.

  21. #17 posted by haineux

    but they do have a feature where if you attempt to connect your Windows box to THE INTERNET without up-to-date virus software, you are DENIED ACCESS until you remedy the defect.

    Wow I imagine that feature never gets annoying when you go to download the latest anti-virus software/updates/patches/etc.

  22. is anyone thinking of the children??!! Filthy badger-sex purveyed by sonicwall is spreading like badger-clap!!

  23. Man, I hate SonicWalls as they break VoIP pretty badly, so anything that makes less people buy them is ok by me.

  24. Perhaps Sonicwall is the missing link.
    Badgers have TB > Sonicwall inflames the farmers with all their badger porn > the farmers take it out on the cows > the cows get TB!

  25. Revised:
    Badgers have TB > Sonicwall and Websense inflame the farmers with all their virgin badger porn > the farmers (wearing capes) forcibly deflower the tweedy vigin badgers > the farmers are justifiably filled with good Chhristian self-loathing > the farmers take it out on the cows > the cows get TB!

  26. My guess is that Sonicwall picked up on this disclaimer from the XKCD website:

    Warning: this comic occasionally contains strong language (which may be unsuitable for children), unusual humor (which may be unsuitable for adults), and advanced mathematics (which may be unsuitable for liberal-arts majors).

    If I were going to write a porn filter, “unsuitable for children” would probably be a string I would block.

  27. Personally, I prefer webcomics with some semblance of maturity. There’s a lot of immature crap on the internets, and I’m happy that XKCD and BoingBoing are not them.

    So, can we get Fox blocked as Immature, please?

  28. You know, many people consider the F-word to be “Adult/Mature Content”, and a quick search shows that xkcd certainly uses it (probably more often than google shows, given that it doesn’t index the words in the comics themselves).

    Also, the subject matters dealt with aren’t for little kids.

    Or maybe your boss is just trying to say that shouldn’t be reading comics at work?

  29. I think this report is incorrect. Or at least misleading.

    I use content filtering service on my SonicWall TZ170 AND I have no problem viewing the xkcd site.

    As far as I can tell most likely the network admin has the Wall cranked down even more than the default CFS settings, OR the Sonic Wall server, which feeds the blocking list to the CFS on the firewall is temporarily down – and that happens way more than I’d like it to.

  30. @#35 “Going around the filter or installing software is ground for termination. ”

    Lots of stuff can run without installation. Live OS CDs, portable Firefox on a thumbdrive….and proxies still go through the filter (not around it). Unless they’ve filtered the proxy itself.

    Your loop hole.

    I’m sure many corporate websites should be labeled as “adult/mature.” I wouldn’t want my kid ordering an industrial laser or buying insurance without my knowledge.
    Perhaps your company is intended for mature audiences? Or does your company do business with children directly?

  31. Occult? Seriously?

    Occult means “hidden” so a site that is blocked becomes occult by definition.

  32. Mine is blocked here at work also, I’ll have to check this out this super explicit website when I get home.

  33. Websense is the bane of my life. Blogger’s login page is blocked (“adult content”). My blog isn’t, despite the naughty words it contains, but my home-business site (social photography) is blocked as “web hosting” – WTF? It’s a workplace, FFS. I thought we were all adults. Isn’t child labour unfashionable just now?

  34. xkcd is one of the most adult and mature things I have ever discovered on the internet.

    Oh… you mean [i]that[/i] use of the word ‘adult’?

    Err, right…

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