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Websense: arbitrary tagging in Spanish

Websense throws good parties, I can attest to that. They also provide one of the leading “censorware” programs for monitoring and blocking the access of employees to those pesky sites out there on the internet. Think “parental control” for the organization.

I’ve got something good to say of them: they react fast when you point out a mistake. But I’ve got two bad ones to add:

  • First, they have a decidedly bad tagging (“categorising”) system for Spanish-language sites, which leads to Websense blocking navigation to hundreds or thousands of perfectly legitimate, useful business (or IT) information sources and references, with a special predilection for those using blog machinery.
  • And second, the method they offer to suggest the recategorization of a site is as well hidden as it can possibly be. It requires registration and inspiration to find it, and is not indicated as such anywhere in the navigation.

Using censorware to prevent the misuse of internet in the enterprise was never a brilliant idea: most of the time-wasters get through, either directly or after some user tunes the installation (coincidentally, it seems most of the times the favourite sites and resources of the IT managers get through). Meanwhile, hundreds or thousands of resources get blind-killed thanks to the category classification. Because it is not perfect.

I’m willing to admit the possibility that the Websense categories work better in English (even though I’ve seen dozens of knowledge management sites screened out). But my experience with Spanish-language niche media is downright disastrous. It almost looks as if they’d categorised Spanish blogs en masse to the “Social networking and personal page” category, and relied on customer messages to save the worthy and ask for recategorisation.

So, if you find an unduly blocked site while surfing from work, and see their name in the blocking page, please register with Websense and then go to https://www.websense.com/SupportPortal/SiteLookup.aspx … and do all of us a favour.

PS – Just tried to join the e-Mint group at Yahoo, and got a Websense blocking the join page as “Web Chat”… while Websense declares it is in the “Search Engines and Portals” category. Someone clarified them already and the change has not spread, or is it gremlins?

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