Safe Browsers are a great way to filter out the web sites you want to avoid. They have default settings that maximize protection for the "average" person, but that's like buying pants designed for the "average" person...they do the job, but probably don't fit you exactly.
Straying from the default set of blocked categories and phrases can seem a little scary though. You don't want to accidentally stumble on the websites you're trying to avoid in the first place. With a little knowledge, its actually not hard (or scary) to customize your filtering to be just perfect for you.
It's important to spell out the reason you (or the person you're keeping accountable) are trying to avoid certain websites. For example, if you're struggling with pornography addiction, it might look like:
"I want to avoid sexually suggestive images and content that can trigger me to search out Pornography."
That's a lot more helpful than "I want to block pornography". So the real goal is to avoid anything that would put you in a state of mind to actively seek out pornography.
Blocking with Categories
So besides the obvious categories to block (pornography, nudity, etc.), we need ask: If I stopped watching pornography, what might I turn to or suddenly find stimulating?
- Paintings of naked women? Probably should block Arts.
- Adult graphic novels? They're frequently laced with suggestive content...consider blocking Comic Books then.
- Victoria's Secret or Sports Illustrated Swimsuit sites? Let's block Intimate Apparel & Swimsuits.
- Would you seek out instant messaging sites where people share explicit photos of themselves? Web-based Instant Messaging & Web Cams needs to be on the list.
- How about sites that teach Sex Ed, or female health? You might be surprised how creative you can become. So consider blocking Sex Education, and Health & Medical.
It's really important to be honest with yourself about what you might turn to when the pornography (gambling, etc.) tap is turned off. If you find yourself rationalizing why that graphic novel you love really isn't that bad...it's probably a good sign that it needs to be blocked.
How sensitive you are to triggers matters too. If women in yoga pants might send you into a spiral, you might need to consider blocking all Image & Video Search.
In general, after you've identified the reasonable triggers that might affect you, you want to make your list initially as restrictive as possible. For example, here's a list we'd recommend starting with (beyond the standard pornography, nudity, etc.):
- Arts / Comic Books
- Gay / Lesbian
- Image & Video Search
- Intimate Apparel / Swimsuits
- Sex Education & Abortion
- Personals / Dating / Romance
- Social Networks / Blogs / Forums
- Streaming Media
- Web-based Instant Messaging & Web Cams
- Health & Medical
You might look at that list and think it could block a lot of non-sexual content, and it can because "bad" content frequently sneaks into good sites (what's "bad" really depends on your triggers). News sites can run articles about sexual behavior, and search engines don't always have a definition of "Safe Search" that agrees with yours. So when you're deciding, lean towards being more restrictive, then selectively whitelist blocked sites you still want access to as you find them.
Locking Down Keywords & Search Phrases
When it comes to deciding what search phrases and keywords to block, you want to take a slightly different approach. For example, you might think blocking "breast" would be a great idea. But it can block all sorts of unintended things: chicken breast, breast plate, breast stroke.
Language is ambiguous and depends a lot on context. That's why it's good to be aggressive blocking categories of sites (since a human classified it already), but careful about keyword blocks. In general, its a good idea to start with the default blocked keywords and then keep track of the keywords you find yourself using when you have a weak moment. If "breast" falls into that category, by all means block it.
Blacklists and such.
Blacklisting URLs should usually be reserved for specific sites you know have a problem with, and live in a category (like Science for example) that you don't want blocked. It can be a pain to maintain a large blacklist...its easy for things to slip through and blacklists quickly become a rat's nest of unintended blocking that breaks the Internet for you. So if you find your blacklist growing rapidly, it might be time to ask yourself fresh what your reasons are for filtering, and then re-evaluate the categories and keywords you're blocking.
Hopefully this helps provide some guidelines for making your filtering work the best for you. They're the rules we use when we're helping a customer tailor the right protection settings for them.
As always, if you have any questions or need help, just let us know!