Proxy Tricks and Flickr

The Great FireWall of China (GFW) is quite a nuisance, but I haven’t been thinking about it much lately. That’s because all Flickr pictures display fine for me when I have the Access Flickr! Firefox plugin installed, and Wikipedia, Blogspot, and others display fine for me since I started using an automatic proxy trick for Firefox which I first discovered on Lost Laowai. The combination of these two tricks satisfies most of my regular browsing needs. They most likely won’t work forever, but they work for now.

This attitude is a little self-centered, though. A lot of visitors may not have these tricks at their disposal, and if they’re in China, they can’t see the Flickr-hosted images I use regularly on my blog.

I contacted Yee of Ya I Yee, the blog which tipped off Lost Laowai about the proxy trick. Yee seems to be quite the knowledgeable guy, and he pointed me to:

– a WordPress plugin which makes substitutions in Flickr image URLs, rendering them visible in the PRC (I am now using this plugin on this blog)
– a site which discusses the Flickr block in some detail (in Chinese), including a manual workaround
– a site which shows how the Access Flickr! Firefox plugin works

Enjoy them while they last.


John Pasden

John is a Shanghai-based linguist and entrepreneur, founder of AllSet Learning.


  1. Matthew Stinson Says: August 26, 2007 at 6:25 pm

    Good links, John, especially the lengthy blog post on the Flickr block.

    I’ve been using Access Flickr for months now, and it’s good for power users or moderately knowledgeable users (read: uber-geeks and semi-geeks) but most of my friends in China wouldn’t know how to use it. Moreover, 95% of my Chinese friends use a browser based on IE anyway so even the geeky ones are stuck behind the GFW. Sad.

    The Firefox proxy trick works seems to work well for Blogspot and WordPress though I haven’t tried doing anything that requires cookies. Moreover, there are security issues involved in using logins with these proxies and I’d need to sniff around the IPs given a bit more before I’d feel safe. Unfortunately, the proxy list doesn’t seem to work for Livejournal, at least on my computer, so I’m stuck using Google Reader to “look but not touch” LJ blogs.

    Wikipedia was unblocked again for a few days this week and seems to be working now without using the proxy. We really out to start a GFW Drinking Game. “If Wikipedia is blocked, take a drink. If Wikipedia is unblocked, drink the whole bottle.”

  2. I feel the same way John, I really don’t notice blocks much anymore – that is, as Matthew said, I try to go to a LiveJournal site (or try to read The 88s).

    @Matthew: I’m with you on the drinking game!

  3. So are there any proxies that can let people get into LiveJournal? I used to use Unblockbess, but now it doesn’t work. Occasionally I can find one that gets the site to display, but I can’t log in.

  4. Wikipedia blocked? It’s still working for me, although I have noticed a few odd little things- certain pages related to Mongolia only go so far and then disappear in the way that only Nanny can make things disappear, for example, or other entries related to China have some additions obviously made by politically correct Chinese editors- they’re written in English with definite Chinese characteristics and toe the Party line faithfully.

    So, sorry Matthew, but we’re changing the rules of that drinking game, cos with my connection it just won’t be fair on me.

  5. Yeah…Wikipedia works well unless any sort of sensitive entry is made (i.e., Tibet) at which point the connection suddenly ceases to work. But for searching other fascinating tidbits such as biographies of obscure baseball players and the like, it’s just dandy.

    I just used Tor as my all-purpose proxy. Slow as hell but not bad with blogs.

  6. I’m in shanghai, and suddenly found out your photos linked from flickr viewable.

    Wikipedia has been available since the beginning of this August without using Flickr Access Firefox plugin.

    I’m now browsing your pages by Safari and it looks perfect!

  7. Heya just snooping around here for better ways to access wiki and blogs… Thought I’d point out that you can also use a web based CGI proxy like
    to get around a lot of stuff. It tends to work for a lot of things, but it’s slower and will past an annoying pop up box over the page.



  8. The following site provides fast access to flickr pictures without problem from China:

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