River Crabs and WordPress

What do crabs have to do with WordPress? More than you think.

In China, you always want  to make sure that your website avoids the “River Crab.” The xiè ( ), or river crab, is Chinese Internet slang for web censorship. Due to the tonal nature of Mandarin, the language is rife with puns and homonyms, the river crab (héxiè) sounds very close to Harmonious/Harmonization (和谐, or  xié), which is a euphemism for censorship and the Communist Party’s search for a stable, harmonious and censored web.

Because “harmonious, or “to harmonize” is a censored word in many social media platforms and websites, web users use “river crab” as a sort of defiance of the GFW. If you look at Google Translated pages of WordPress.org.cn (not affiliated with WordPress.org), you can see there is discussion of people’s sites getting “crabbed,” or, finding ways around “crabbed” plugins on their sites. While not everyone is able to circumvent the GFW, many Internet users still find ways to discuss the issues they have with censorship and other Internet freedom-related issue. In some cases, even “river crab” is censored, and users must use even more esoteric associations, such as “aquatic product” (, or shuǐchǎn).

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