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Google Mirror Beats the Great Firewall of China 288

An anonymous reader writes "TheNew Scientist has an article about a Google search mirror called elgooG that apparently beats the Chinese firewall to the outside world. It displays all of the text backwards, requiring you to use a mirror to read the text." No big shocker- but imagine how many such mirrors could exist ;)
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Google Mirror Beats the Great Firewall of China

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  • The ironic thing... (Score:4, Informative)

    by Kredal ( 566494 ) on Sunday September 08, 2002 @09:38AM (#4215473) Homepage Journal
    is that the mirror site,, is blocked by the copy of Websense used on my network. Heh.
    • And now China will block that alltooflat mirror site.

      And you wanna bet that posting suggestions on how to beat their firewall is gonna get Slashdot blocked?

      Ah, well. The whole China censorship thing is one of the few areas where Voice of America isn't full of crap -- it's pretty egregious.
  • They should only give access to a list of accredited sites. And block all others.
    Otherwise they would be fooled endlessly by such simple tricks.
    • Do you worry that you may be feeding the Chinese goverment with useful clues about how to censor the internet?
    • by Tablizer ( 95088 ) on Sunday September 08, 2002 @01:52PM (#4216442) Journal
      They should only give access to a list of accredited sites. And block all others.
      Otherwise they would be fooled endlessly by such simple tricks.

      That would make the web almost useless. Then again, why should they care?

      I wonder what people see when they click on a blocked link? Do they get "not found", or "you notty boy, that link is subversive"?

      If the first, then people must think that a lot of sites are permanently broken.

      The gov could get around this by redirecting the links to some proganda page that resembles the original, but that takes a lot of labor. Then again with a nation of 1.2 billion people, labor is not something in short supply. Are they hiring, by the way?
  • wow! (Score:3, Funny)

    by mattbland ( 260913 ) on Sunday September 08, 2002 @09:39AM (#4215477)
    the vertical scroll bar even appears on the left side of my window in IE.

    i've even got used to reading the url's backwards.
    • body dir=rtl (Score:2, Informative)

      by Chris Croome ( 24340 )

      the vertical scroll bar even appears on the left side of my window in IE.

      IE switches the scroll bar to the left when the direction attribute on the body element is set to right-to-left:

      <body dir="rtl">

      More information about right-to-left languages and HTML can be found in the specification [].

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 08, 2002 @09:40AM (#4215480)
    anybody have a mirror?
  • by nant ( 534932 )
  • !thgir lla (Score:2, Funny)

    by Newer Guy ( 520108 )
    !doog pu me' kcuf
    • by Loligo ( 12021 )
      !doog pu me' kcuf<

      . .SEOHS NWOLC gnikcuf si anihC .sessa diputs rieht pu meht kcuF.

      (htimS niveK ot sporp etairporppa)

  • Good, except... (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 08, 2002 @09:42AM (#4215485)
    That's great it displays text backwards and all, but mirrors don't reverse the order text. Make yourself a nice big "R" and hold it in front of a mirror. See the difference?

    If you use a mirror to read this google mirror you are going to see the letters in the right order, but they are all going to be backwards!
    • This gives an interesting effect to the )parenthesis( and ]other[ similar }characters{ :-)
    • It requires that YOU type your text in the revers order :P This is way too hard to use :(
    • Re:Good, except... (Score:3, Informative)

      by Electrum ( 94638 )
      That's great it displays text backwards and all, but mirrors don't reverse the order text. Make yourself a nice big "R" and hold it in front of a mirror. See the difference?

      If you use a mirror to read this google mirror you are going to see the letters in the right order, but they are all going to be backwards!

      It is possible (and easy) to reverse the entire page with IE: []
  • did you realise that you also had to put your query in backwards...what a slut. can anyone tell me how they made the scroll bar appear on the left hand side (in ie6)? i'm too lazy to work it out for myself.
    • Put this into the tag.
      So it looks like
      <body dir=rtl>
      This attribute is used to indicate the directionality of the flow of the content, comes in handly with ass-backwards languages like Hibrew and Persian.

      Hope that helps.
    • Use <body dir="rtl">. Used for arabic and middle-east languages.
  • Well, that's one unique way to get past filters. Good for them!

    The government is trying very hard to keep the people ignorant so they can maintain control. Sooner or later, of course, they'll become smart enough to realise their government is screwing them over. The the sh*t hits the fan... ...I somehow don't think that would be an all-around good thing in the short run. China has a history of being extraordinarily brutal towards protestors and rebels. But it certaintly would be a major step for democracy and freedom all-around.
    • You're acting as if all Chinese are brainwashed or something.

      Oh wait, you truly believe that. I guess it's no use trying to argue with you, farewall.
    • The Chinese don't give a fuck about the Google search page, or the results page either.

      They're being blocked simply as collateral damage, the target of the Chinese filters is the google cache.

      You see people were using the Google cache to gain axcess to Google's mirrors of sites that the Chinese were blocking, such as

      Using this silly mirrored Google mirror site gains nothing you click any of the 'dehcaC' (cache) hyperlinks on its result pages & you end up on the standard Google cache pages which are still blocked.
  • Re:Google Mirror (Score:2, Informative)

    by rmohr02 ( 208447 )
    When you input a search term it has to be backwards as well, and I've never mastered the art of typing backwards. So if you suddenly forget the url for /., you have to type in "todhsals" at this mirror to find it.
    • One way to do it is to alternate typing your letters with your left hand, and hitting the left-arrow key with your right hand.

      So s-left-l-left-a-left-s-left-h-left-d-left-o-left-t becomes "todhsals". You can type backwards pretty quickly this way, but it's probably also a good way to get repetitive stress syndrome so I wouldn't really recommend it to any aspiring Leonardo da Vinci's.

      I wonder how it works for Chinese since it's traditionally written from the bottom of the page, starting on the right hand side. Do they do even have this functionality on computers?
    • Seems like a bit of javascript could fix this?
  • may not be as much help in defeating oppressive filters in Arabic speaking countries.
  • So who is writing code for an OS mirror program? What a great idea for a browser plugin, a plugin that re-mirrors the text on the user's display so it can be read.
    • What I want to know is why none of the browsers and mail readers seem to come with a ROT13 codec any more. This use to be a common feature of a lot of text-viewing programs, but it seem to have quietly gone away.

      Yeah, I can cut and paste into my own little perl one-liner that does the job. But it was sorta cool to have a menu tool or hotkey that did the job. Now, not even mozilla seems to have it.

      (I'd love to be proven wrong about mozilla. What's the CTRL-Foo key that does it? ;-)

      • It looks like ROT 13 has been in consideration for quite a bit of time. Go to bug #66822 [] for the complete story. The short of it is that it is not built into Mozilla at this point, but someone did upload a scriptlet to do this.

  • It looks like the actual text is just reversed, not mirrored. Holding a mirror up to this won't make it much easier to read.
  • The words are backwards.. but the letters are not.. so if you use a mirror, the words become forwards and the letters backwards. So might as well just not use a mirror.
  • !looc si tahT
  • Type in 'drugs' LOL, how astonishingly appropriate.
  • This is in fact an encrypted Google site, and by using a mirror, you are circumventing the encryption scheme. CEASE AND DESIST NOW before the police come a knocking.

    Seriously though, this is a good reminder that there are billions of people on this planet that don't have the right to freely share ideas. Kind of makes me think that stories about not being able to share movies via p2p cheapen the name "Your Rights Online".

    • Re:DMCA Violation (Score:2, Insightful)

      by chipwich ( 131556 )
      >Seriously though, this is a good reminder that there are billions of people on this planet that don't have the right to freely share ideas.

      Don't deceive yourself. There are many corporate interests within the US which actively curtail our ability to freely exchange ideas. Unfortunately, since the "war on terrorism", it has become much easier to strip away free speech by saying it is necessary for security.

      What with the advent of the US Patriot Act and other such measures, we are well on our way toward government control like China (both online and offline). It just hasn't gotten quite so bad, yet...

      Our constitution promotes democracy, not capitalism. Unfortunately, these two are usually considered equivalient for some bizarre reason. Until people realize that democracy is what makes us great, expect your liberties to erode. Watch what happens in China closely.
      • And you provide such a shining example of repressed free speech! Obviously it must be really repressive here if you can post such criticisms (NOT). You have no clue of the difference between a free society like the US and a fascist country like China, or a totalitarian country like Cuba. If you did, you wouldn't blather that we are "well on our way toward government control like China."

        The DMCA sucks big time - no doubt about it. It is a travesty. But in any society, capitalist, socialist, totalitarian, whatever... there are always big cheese who occasionally take away goodies from the little guy.

        OTOH the Patriot Act doesn't take away *any* of your freedoms. None! Count them! ZERO. NONE! It certainly doesn't take away your free speech rights.

        Our constitution promotes representative democracy and capitalism (othwise, why would we have the "property" clause in the fifth amendment?).

        Capitalism cannot thrive without a functioning democracy (as China will find out). And a democracy cannot survive without an effective economic system, of which capitalism, in one form or the other, is the only proven candidate.

  • The Language tools options is really bizarre. reading l33t speak can be hard. not to mention reading it backwards [].

  • Not a real mirror (Score:2, Informative)

    by freedumb_ ( 162135 )
    This is not a real Google mirror. The site will forward you to other (advertising partner) sites on certain keywords. I've tried "love" und "sex" (normal and reverse) and I am sure there are more.
  • If all the ISP's over there are government-run, then couldn't they theoretically order satellite service from america (or anywhere else), and bypass the gov't ? Sure, 200ms first hop would be killer, but it's still better than the pathetic mind-fucking experience the gov't calls "their internet".

  • Reminds me of the old April's Fools-extension that ran on Classic Mac OS. It would reverse any text on your whole system, even as you typed.
  • Nice, but the site should provide mirrored fonts. The letters themselves are not mirrored, so they look weird when looking trough a mirror.
  • by deander2 ( 26173 ) <> on Sunday September 08, 2002 @10:04AM (#4215579) Homepage

    The flow of the text is reversed, but not the letters themselves. So if you look at this site in the mirror, the letters will all be in the correct order, but themselves appear reversed.

    Ah-ha said Captian Nitpick! ;)
  • Watch this. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by cioxx ( 456323 ) on Sunday September 08, 2002 @10:20AM (#4215634) Homepage
    Fun with IP protocols.

    Slashdot - 1075594134 [1075594134]

    Google - 3639550820 [3639550820]

    Wonder if that would beat the Firewall also.

    Discuss. ;)
    • No, it wouldn't. All you're doing is writing the IP address in a different way. Your web browser then converts that address to a 32-bit integer in any case: it's the same number whether it was gotten from a DNS lookup or your strange way of writing it. The connection packet that the Chinese firewall blocks is unchanged.
  • Other choices (Score:3, Informative)

    by Nept ( 21497 ) on Sunday September 08, 2002 @10:24AM (#4215645) Journal
    better than elgoog:

    Google Labs [] - allows full searches, can circumvent firewall

    Soap Client for Google Searches []

    Google Groups [] - still accessible for usenet searching.

    • Perhaps China only blocked the main Google front door, but blocking other things at should be obvious. What we really need are widespread anonymizers, whether they're Peek-a-Booty or Triangle Boy or some Apache plugin.
  • Is slashdot blocked by The Great Firewall?

    I's a site that covers a lot of linux & open source stuff (which China likes) but is also very liberal in the opinions expressed on the site.

  • .. I doubt it -- have they given any thought at all to that historically mirror-challenged group, the vampires?
  • Mirror mirror on the wall, who is feeling luckiest of all?
  • So if you view the elgooG website in the elgooG cache to you get Google?
  • So ..... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Enonu ( 129798 ) on Sunday September 08, 2002 @11:37AM (#4215867)
    If I elgooG a elgooG result, do I get the original?
  • Am I missing something here?

    The "horizontal mirror" thing is kind of weird and quirky. Heh. In the course of testing a content-rewriting HTTP proxy once, I had it replace all occurrences of "server" by "serverino". This falls into about the same area of interest I think.

    Apart from that, it's just a proxy, right? Not an open proxy, just one which proxies to Google only. China filters out the proxy; no more story any more.

    I guess if it became commonplace for sites all over the place to spring up Google-proxies, then that might be relevant, since the Chinese authorities would have a hard time finding and blocking them all.

    But it's just one site, so what's the big deal?

  • Huzzah! (Score:3, Funny)

    by Ravagin ( 100668 ) on Sunday September 08, 2002 @12:52PM (#4216225)

    I have had for years the strange and useless "party trick" ability to read english equally well left to right or right to left (on paper or in my head, leading to "talking backwards"), and it struck me as cruel that such an awesome talent would be so utterly useless - trust me, in performance, it gets old after about five or ten minutes.

    But now I can search for stuff backwards. Today, Google, tomorrow, the world! Muahahahaha!


  • Too bad it isn't useful. The searches return less results and I wonder if their indexing algorithm is reversed too.

  • Fade from black to a row of cubicles, all with Chinese flags pinned on the side. The camera enters one of them to find a Chinese worker at his computer, illuminated by the cold glow of his monitor and a single overhead light bulb.

    Worker: [crying out in frustration] "I need to find info on democracy, but Google is blocked! Whatever shall I do?"

    A man jumps in from out of nowhere, dressed in black, with a black mask and a long black cape, furling in the wind. He points his rapier to the sky, and calls out:

    "Have no fear! I am El Goog! I will find your information, and vanquish your dastardly firewall!"

    [cheers in background]

    Firewall: "Curses!"
  • for Google to make a "mirrored" version of itself, like the H4X0R [] and Bork Bork Bork [] version...
    That way the mirror will return easily readable results.
    • Somebody mod the parent up. Score:3 Informative would be a fine result, or Funny.

      Besides being in rather incredible accordance with the context of this article, such -official- oddities as the two linked Google hacks simply require more attention than being scored at 2.

      It harkens back to a day when people actually [] had [] fun [] with their Net-centric job.

      The Google bits are a living legend, from an expired era when corporate mentalities were considered prudish and people were just getting used to the idea of wearing jeans to the office, right there to be consumed and enjoyed. Let them be seen.
  • I typed in "xes" and got "000,000,3,18 found".
  • ... or somthing similar might be better.
  • Reading the blurb gave me an interesting idea. Say they are filtering text, not just IP addresses. Set up a search engine that doesn't return text, but an image of the text. I know there's software out there. Interesting idea - what would the processing power be to OCR the text, looking for keywords? Especially if it was just a JPG or GIF. And if that works? Just do a "mirror" image of the resultant picture - good luck OCRing that without help.

    Note this doesn't solve the problem, though, since whatever site is built to do this could be added to the block list on the firewall.
  • This site is really messing with my ability to use mouse gestures.

When you are working hard, get up and retch every so often.