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FAQ for Protex users

How are the lists categorised?

Below are general descriptions of the categories used to generate the different Protex filter profiles. These categories consist of both URL and phrase lists. The URLs are lists of sites, sections of sites, and individual pages to be blocked, trusted, or content checked. The lists of phrases are used if a page is content checked. Thus some of the categories below (e.g. hygiene) are sites that should be allowed while others (e.g. adult) are sites that should be blocked. Is is possible for the same category name to be used in both contexts - for example, lists in the 'adult' category can be used both to block sites to pupils and allow them to staff.

Category names are not consistent between the various sources Protex use to generate the distributed lists so the names used below are a rationalisation of these diverse categories into what we consider to be a manageable collection.

The filter profiles (e.g. Primary, Middle, etc) are created by applying or not the various categories listed below. A further distinction between the lists is the value of the 'naughtiness limit': this is the numerical value that triggers a page to be blocked when being content checked. The higher this threshold the less aggressive the content filtering.


BLOCK Categories
Advertising Advert Servers and banned URLs
Adult Sites containing adult material such as swearing but not porn, e.g. Dating sites
Chat Sites with chat rooms, forums, etc.
Filehosting Sites used for hosting and distributing files between users
Gambling Gambling sites including stocks and shares
IllegalHacking Hacking/cracking information, sites with illegal pirate software, and sites hosting or distributing malware, spyware or viruses.
IllegalDrugs Drug related sites
LocalBlockAll Used on ProtexLocal systems to block sites to all users (inc. STAFF)
Proxy Sites with proxies to bypass filters - including sites hosting Proxy software for download, running proxies, listing other proxy sites or giving information about Proxies. Also includes sites with dialers, such as those for pornography, or Trojans
Intolerance Sites promoting intolerant views
Pornography Sites containing pornographic images, text, movies, etc.
OnlineGames Online games  - includes sites hosting flash based games, multiplayer online games and sites hosting forums, "cheat sheets", etc. about online games
KidsTimeWasting Sites kids often waste time on
Violence Sites depicting or promoting violence and sites selling or detailing weapons
Pre-9 Block applies to PRIMARY profile only
Pre-12 Block applies to PRIMARY and MIDDLE profiles
Pre-16 Block applies to PRIMARY, MIDDLE and SECONDARY profiles
Pre-18 Block applies to PRIMARY, MIDDLE, SECONDARY and SIXTH-FORM profiles
SocialNetworking Social networking sites (Facebook, etc.)
ArtNudes Art sites containing artistic nudity
Download Sites used to download software updates, etc.
ChildCare Sites to do with childcare
Culinary Sites about cooking etc.
Gardening Gardening sites
Government Governmental sites (UK and abroad) including military and schools.
HomeRepair Sites about home repair
Hygiene Sites about hygiene and other personal grooming related material
News News sites
Radio Non-news related radio and television
Religion Sites promoting religion
Teaching Education related sites - available to all users
Adult Sites suitable for adults but not students - used allow sites that would otherwise be blocked on the Staff profile
Post-16 Allow for SIXTH-FORM profiles only
Post-12 Allow for SIXTH-FORM and SECONDARY profiles
Post-9 Allow for SIXTH-FORM, SECONDARY and MIDDLE profiles
Local Allow List 1 Used on ProtexLocal systems to allow sites to all users


Who can make changes to the profiles?

Only E2BN Protex staff can make changes to the profiles which are centrally distributed. Profiles are, in fact, a particular set of configuration files and parameters which are applied together in order to filter websites appropriately for a particular group of users. New standard profiles can be created for particular groups in addition to those currently supplied if there is a demand.

Where an Academy or school has a ProtexLocal server the local administrator can create local profiles which can be tuned to their specific requirements.

I keep getting blocked but the URL shown is not the one I typed in.

There are several reasons why the site you end up on may not be the one you expected and in some cases Protex will block the final destination.

The most common reason - particularly with younger pupils - is when the URL typed in is misspelt and the browser is redirected to a site whose primary aim is to display advertising links. For more detail see: What-is-Typo-squatting and What-is-Type-in-traffic.

The other main reason for this block is when a domain is "parked" and redirects the user to a site which is, again, set up to show advertising and generate revenue for the current domain owner with minimal development. This may be done by the registered owner of a domain while their site is under construction but also occurs where there is no intention of future development. See: What-is-Domain-parking.

Can I use the STAFF profile on a student computer?

In most cases the profile used will be set on a per-user basis at log-in by the Network Operating System setting the proxy to be used by the browser to gain Internet access. If you are a member staff you will automatically get the STAFF profile on any networked computer you log into: if this is not the case then you will need to contact your local systems manager who should be able to arrange it for you.

How can I tell which profile I'm using?

Many of the most common filtering issues arise because the staff have been assigned the wrong filter profile. It is very important that staff have access the STAFF profile as this allows downloads from untrusted sites (e.g. .zip files); allows access to some site which use only an IP address and not a full domain name and has a higher weighted phrase threshold for blocking than the student profiles do.

To check which profile is in use at any time browse to http://pleaseblockme.site while using Protex filtering and the profile is use is on the left hand side of the black bar below the orange heading and above the main body of the page.

I can't download a file - why not?

Protex will prevent certain file types from being downloaded from non-Trusted sites (see here for more about Trusted sites, etc.). Which file types are blocked is controlled by the filter profile in use - the STAFF profile is much less strict than the student profiles.

If you are a member of staff and you cannot download a particular file then first check that you are using the STAFF profile - if not then ask your local network manager to arrange this for you.

For sites listed as Trusted no filtering at all is applied and all file types can be downloaded by all profiles.

You may request that a particular site be made Trusted using this online form.

See also the Filtering Policy.

I want to use blogger with my students but the site is blocked.

Please see the Filtering Policy where this issue is addressed.

I want to use flickr with my students but the site is blocked.

Please see the Filtering Policy where this issue is addressed from a central perspective. As flickr is a public site which hosts a very wide range of photographs some of which are clearly inappropriate we do not feel we can make the site generally available to all schools. The structure of the site makes it impossible to allow single accounts (e.g. a school or teacher account) to be unfiltered while still blocking the rest of the site.

Individual Local Authorities may make it available if they wish and, of course, schools which are using a ProtexLocal server may choose to make it available to some of all of their own students.

Whether a site chooses to allow flickr.com to be un-filtered will depend on the ethos of the school, the level of supervision, etc. It can certainly be a useful resource and one that students may be using at home but if allowed the Academy or School's senior management must be aware that there are some images on the site which may be considered unsuitable for viewing in school.

Students have used a Site Builder at home - why can't they work on their site in school?

Please see the Filtering Policy where this issue is addressed.

If your students have their created their own sites hosted on one of the many free Site Builders which are currently blocked then please submit the URL of their site via the block page form so it can be vetted and made available if possible and appropriate.

We cannot guarantee to make such sites available as the way companies create and maintain accounts varies (and changes from time to time) so it is not always possible to unblock individual accounts and/or sites.

What do I do if I find a bad site?

If you find a site which you think should be blocked then please complete this form.

What if I am blocked from a legitimate site?

Click the button on the block page and complete the online form it links to.

When submitted the details are logged centrally and will be considered by the filtering team. All requests are checked and if appropriate the site will be released. List changes are distributed to all Protex servers within 30 minutes of the change being implemented centrally. In many cases a simple list change is all that is required but some requests may require more investigation or information before a decision can be made.


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