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Finances & Money

Webmaster Tip: Verify Your Site’s Websense Category

Some Background First

Months ago, at my old client, I browsed over to my wife’s site, BuildingNutrition.com to verify a post had published that morning. Unfortunately, I was greeted by a Websense warning that the site was classified as “sex” and was not accessible through that network! If you aren’t familiar, Websense isĀ used by many corporations, schools, and government agencies to regulate and filter the sites we underlings view during the work/school day.

I immediately closed the browser and pondered why in the world would the site have that classification. I don’t recall ever posting anything on Building Nutrition that would be considered lewd or distasteful, but I figured it was just a problem within the client’s installation of Websense. I decided it was best not to request a change in the categorization as it would call attention to my not working.

But then I started working at a new client last week, and decided to test whether the site was banned here as well. The last client blocked many sites such as all webmail (Gmail, Hotmail, etc.), eTrade and many other sites that are reasonably considered time-wasters (they didn’t block Clever Dude though!). This new client was much more lenient with their internet filters, so I gave it a shot. I typed in BuildingNutrition.com and Wham! the same error as before! I quickly closed the window again and pondered what to do.

The Resolution

When I got home that night, I decided to browse over to the Websense website and see what I could do. Obviously I wouldn’t want others who were trying to reach Stacie’s site (even if they should be working) to be reported as naughty users to their security offices.

Under the Support category, I chose Contact Support. Right there was listed the following link:

Websense Suggest a URL

Note: You need to register as a user to report a category change for a URL.

  1. I registered as a user. Even though all the contact fields are required, I opted to only give my email address as correct information.
  2. You’ll get an email with a temporary password (which I changed after logging in)
  3. You’ll be taken to the Site Lookup Tool where you’ll enter the URL you wish to validate. Enter the URL you wish to have reviewed. I didn’t add the “http://” and it worked.
  4. The next page is the results page for your query. As it states on the page, if you feel the classification shown is incorrect, then fill out the very brief form on that page with the categorization you think it should be (a dropdown). In the case of Building Nutrition, I chose the category “Health“. My website, Clever Dude, is listed as “Message Boards and Forums, which I guess is fine.
  5. For Comment and Site Description box, I stated that the site is a nutrition and fitness blog and has nothing to do with sex. I then submitted the request.
  6. I got an email receipt and then waited.
  7. In just a couple days, I got a response that the site’s categorization has been changed to Health, but it would take a few days to push the changes out to all its clients.
  8. I logged in the next day at the office and sure enough it wasn’t updated yet. I waited for 2 more days and checked again. The site now displays in all its glory!

I have to say that I thought the process would be an unbearable task of calling 15 different people and then getting shot down anyway, but it wasn’t painful at all. I wish I would have thought of this last year when I first found the problem, because who knows how many potential readers we lost because they got that error at work or school!

Update!

It appears that Websense has changed their method of reporting a site wherein you need to log in with an account. When I tried, I found my previous account no longer worked and I couldn’t register a new account without a license key (which I don’t have). I contacted support who then told me to just email Websense Database Ops at suggest@websense.com.

I expect their resolutions are fairly timely as they previously were, but your situation may vary.

About the author

Clever Dude

13 Comments

  • Micah: I do have a few sites that aren’t ranked, but rather than trying to categorize them now, I’ll just let them get classified by Websense.

    It’s your call with your own site though as you might want to head off any incorrect categorization now rather than constantly check back.

  • i hate websense…

    (disclosure…forced to admin it for one of your 50 states)…

    i have to let ebay open and yahoo’s fantasy sports…but yet, when i need drivers for computers, it is blocked

    websense, biggest P.O.S. version of a white/black list.

  • My air cargo reverse auction site was blocked, too. Mistakenly classified as malicious. Thanks for posting this! Very irritating and that a 3rd party can interfere with your business.

  • I built this small site for my local high school and they can’t even look at it because Websense blocked it as “sex”. I called Websense and they told me that I needed someone from the school to call them and see how their configuration was set up. What kind of crap is this?! I’ve sent an e-mail to the suggest@websense.com, but is there no way to categorize the site myself? I work at a military base and it is blocked here to; categorization:”none”

    Thank you for your help.

  • Thanks for the tip! I’ll give it a whirl the next time I an encounter a “Sex” site that has been incorrectly categorised. I spoke to IT about this issue and they said that Websense uses under paid workers (ie. College students) to sift through the websites and categorise them. Of course there are going to be a lot of mis categorised sites.. it’s also a very subjective thing as well… what one person considers offensive, another won’t.. especially in a global (ie. different cultures etc) sense.

    Anyway, again thanks for the tip.. I’ll give it a try.

  • I’m curious to find out what blog platform you’re utilizing?
    I’m experiencing some minor security issues with my latest site and I’d like to find something more risk-free.

    Do you have any solutions?

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