WordPress Plugins Blocked in China

Due to the sheer size of the WordPress theme and plugin repository, it’s too difficult to maintain a single list of blocked plugins, themes and other WordPress-related functionality. However, I do have a shortlist of major plugins and tools that are blocked from behind the Great Firewall of China.

Google Fonts – This is a big one. Any site that makes any sort of reference to fonts.google.com is likely going to have a major speed and performance breakdown for visitors from China. This will require users to host the font files directly on their site (as the files themselves are not blocked by the GFW). There are plugins, such as “Remove Google Fonts References” which can allow your Chinese visitors to view the sites more accurately. The same applies for just about anything from Google, which is entirely blocked as of July 2014.

Jetpack – While the entirety of Automattic’s Jetpack isn’t blocked within China, many core functionalities of it are. Much of JetPack is blocked because it relies on accessing WordPress.com, which is block in the China. However, a discussion post I started about JetPack while living in China sheds some light on what can and can’t be used:

You’ll want to avoid the following jetpack modules:

  • Photon: it allows you to serve your images from the WordPress.com cloud. Your Chinese readers would not be able to via your images if you enable this module.
  • Tiled Galleries: depends on Photon, so you won’t be able to use it.
  • Jetpack Comments: it replaces your Comment form by a custom form hosted at WordPress.com. if you want your readers to leave comments on your site, you’ll want to keep that module deactivated.
  • Jetpack Subscriptions: while the Subscription widget would work, your readers will need to click on the confirmation link leading to a WordPress.com page to confirm their subscription.
  • Gravatar Hovercards: it shows a pop-up business card of your users’ gravatar profiles in comments. I am not sure if Gravatar is blocked in China, you might want to check it.

Gravatar- While the Gravatar website itself is not blocked, many subdomains relating to Gravatar are found to be blocked, according to GreatFire.org. According to an article at WP Tavern, it’s difficult to disable Gravatar without completely disabling avatars on a site.

Social Media Widgets/Sign ons (Twitter, Facebook, Google+) – This may seem obvious, but it’s important to say that while users are not accessing these sites directly while using social sign-ons, remote connections to these sites are required, and they will break, causing some undesirable functionality on sites. If any widgets, code, or tools are remotely connecting to a site (which you can check in a WebPageTest.org waterfall chart), you can assume that the connection to your site is interrupted, slowed or broken completely.

Yoast SEO – This plugin is not blocked in China, but some functionality, such as Facebook Open Graph support, Twitter integration, and Google Analytics/Webmaster Tools will not work. If you’re looking to get people from China to find your site by using their largest search engine, Baidu, there is a whole other set of SEO rules and parameters (and opens a whole other can of worms for Internet security).

BBPress – This plugin is not blocked. However, discussion platforms are often a target for the “river crabs” as talks about sensitive issues like Tibet, Xinjiang, and other events are likely able to make you a target. If there’s any risk of your site being blocked, consider hosting your discussion board on another domain and another server.

 

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