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 is 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.
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:
Note: You need to register as a user to report a category change for a URL.
- I registered as a user. Even though all the contact fields are required, I opted to only give my email address as correct information.
- You’ll get an email with a temporary password (which I changed after logging in)
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- I got an email receipt and then waited.
- 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.
- 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!
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
I expect their resolutions are fairly timely as they previously were, but your situation may vary.