Not just in China: Google localized, censored in Azerbaijan?

Boing Boing reader BReed says,

Google repression is old news. With all the hullabaloo about Google's restricting Chinese access, I thought I'd point out that the same is true of folks living in Azerbaijan (where I've live the last 1 1/2 years). If you surf to the main site, you get bumped to, which gives you a significantly restricted set of search results. The same is true of countries like Uzbekistan. The work-around, at least in the former Soviet Union, is to go to; can Chinese Googlers do the same?

Link. Both and are made available for users inside China, and the latter returns censored results. But remember also that government 'net traffic filters likely mean that users in China who may be able to reach could receive filtered search results from that domain. Someone entering an identical search string to from, say, the United States, might receive different/more results.

Reader comment: Darren says,

Back in 2001, I worked at an Irish startup called Cape Clear (Link). We built this absurdly simple thing: If you send an email to, with your search terms in the subject line, you'll get an email back with the top ten results. It was just a trivial gimmick for us, but it got ridiculous attention from the media. It didn't seem very useful, but we heard back from two groups who dug it: blind users, whose automated readers liked the plain text emails as opposed to websites and Chinese folks, who could apparently use it to circumvent censored results. The address is still functional–I'm not sure if it's a useful strategy for Chinese searchers in 2006 or not.

Reader comment: Sean O'Rourke says,

I'm not sure what people think of China's blocking power, but it's not as strong as the impression BoingBoing gives. And this gives a different impression of Google's complacency. In Beijing, I am able to access the "Tiananmen" Google searches and images without much problem. I can see all of the protestors' images. The Great FireWall of China only shows up in a couple ways:

(1) Blocks entire domains. E.g., the BBC. Certain subdomains may be blocked as well. This can be gotten around by proxy. will show all these sites as results, but you will be unable to directly access it in China. Images from sensitive sites will not be shown on an image search, but you will see where they were supposed to be.

(2) Prevents a page from loading. This is the most annoying, as you are often unsure whether there is a slow connection problem (which happens often). The page will simply stop loading before it gets to sensitive text. You'll then wait a few minutes for the timeout. News sites and blogs often have this happen. When the sensitive material is removed, the page loads normally.

(3) Temporary blocking. Not sure if this is keyword or a per-site/page basis. The latest news pages on the HK Disneyland fiasco were having issues (i.e., I could load, but not until Xinhua came out with their own version. Search for something too sensitive on Google ("6-June Incident" in Chinese), and you can't get to it again for the next five minutes or so.

These are the most common, but sometimes there are other fortuitous "errors" that I'm unsure about.

The point is that the FireWall cannot prevent you from knowing that there's something you're not seeing. **That's the insidious nature of you're now never sure if there's something you're not seeing.**

Reader comment: Andy Armstrong says,

There's also You can use it either to fetch an arbitrary URL by placing the URL in the subject /or/ to perform a google search by making the subject

"google " <my search term>

Send it mail with the subject 'help' to get a reminder of those. I haven't touched it for a while – but if there's demand I'll add functionality…