Posted by Lori Ayre on July 7, 2003

With all the hoopla about the Supreme Court decision to allow CIPA to stand, it is incumbent on all current and potential filter users to learn how Internet content filtering products work. I see post after post on the discussion lists that make it clear to me that people don't know how they work, what options they have for controlling how they work and think one product works the same as another. In some cases, the lack of understanding has to do with the fact that the products are maintained by administrators "upstream" (the county for example).

At any rate, I'd love people to take a peek at the the report I wrote for Infopeople two years ago that describes how many of the commonly used products work and what features to look for and/or be aware of when selecting or administering your filter product.

Start at Filtering: Managing Internet Access Ed: broken link removed 2011 to learn what the issues are and how the various products do the job of filtering/censoring/blocking.

Another important concept to understand is that the filter companies each have their own "content categories" Ed: broken link removed 2011and in order to get them to work for you with the least amount of unwanted blocking, you have to take time understanding your product's content categories. I've pulled out the content categories for each of the nine products I reviewed and in some cases the company goes so far as to describe what they mean to include in their categories and provide examples of pages that get blocked when you select that category.

Once you understand the various filtering issues and the features available in different products, check out the Filtering Comparison Chart Ed: broken link removed 2011 to see which products have the features that are important to you...such as "can disable keyword blocking," "can selectively enable categories", "can customize block message", "user notified of blocked page", "user provided URL of blocked page", and "override of block page available" just to name a few of my personal favorites. Remember, this info is dated so check the filter companies website for the most current info.