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I am an Internet addict; I find it very hard to stay away from some websites, even when at work. Worse, although I am aware of various kinds of software that can block sites, they don't help because if I can install them, then I can also just turn them off. Of course I need to fix my problem, but this has been going on for years and a technical crutch would really help.

My workplace's sysadmin is sympathetic and willing to help, but he wants a solution that works for the whole workplace. Also, I am not comfortable with telling him which sites I want to block, and probably neither are others; nor should a site be blocked for the whole company just because I can't stay away from it.

So I'm wondering if software with the following features exists:

  • Blocks WWW traffic at the outgoing router of our company network
  • Has a different block list for each local IP address
  • Lets the users at those IP addresses add sites to their own lists, but not remove them

Or anything that works on Ubuntu Linux that doesn't allow root to just disable it, but I'm quite sure that's not possible.

  • I don't believe there is a ready solution. Would something based on iptables be OK? Is your admin able and willing to script adding IPs to a file? Maybe that's the way? – Mołot Oct 6 '14 at 14:58
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    Try any one software that you know, which has a password protection. Go to it, add the websites to be blocked and then type a password without looking at your keyboard. Or call some one else to type a password. – Tomin Jacob Oct 6 '14 at 16:29
  • For your second part "the something on Ubuntu" could you tell us which browser(s) you use? – Angelo Fuchs Oct 6 '14 at 16:59
  • I would deal with the addiction somehow. Because if you know something about computers, you will be spending even more time hacking the system to get high again ;) – Perroloco Oct 6 '14 at 17:29
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    Although in fact yesterday I removed the single account on this Ubuntu box from the sudo group, and now I can only become root by rebooting into single user mode, and I can't disable it anymore. In fact, Stack Exchange (and this site) is included in the sites I really shouldn't finish, and I can only do so now because yesterday's Nuclear Option from Chrome has worn off. Who knows, maybe today will be better once I turn it on, maybe rebooting into single user mode is enough of a barrier. – Anonymous Coward Oct 8 '14 at 7:33
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First things first: If you really do work to overcome the following system, you really (no joke) should seek psychological assistance (note from the future: I did seek such assistance and it helped me greatly. If the tool recommended won't help, consider writing me an email).

I, as you, am (kinda) addicted to specific sites which I visit often and spend far too much time there. For this recommendation, I'll just name it tvtropes and will use that instead of example.com.

I use Firefox/Iceaweasel as my only browser, so this is a recommendation for a plugin for this browser. If installing a different browser is something that you count under "just disable it" then this will be not much use. But, bear with me, because it has some nice features that help exactly people like you and me.

But for this I need to point something out: The reason why I (and likely why you) find the sites so addictive is because they are a click away and then we can just enjoy the endorphines of consuming their content. If we are forced away from them, withdrawal comes and haunts us. So, if we can find a way to remove them slowly its far easier.

I recommend: Leechblock
It allows you to blacklist all the sites that you love too much and then lets you define rules for them. For example: You may visit all of the sites, but every 2 minutes when you open a subsite you have to wait 30 seconds for it to open. If you haven't tried this yet, do so. Its very helpful, because if your really like that site /now/, you can have it. Just wait 30 seconds and there it is. You browse there and do what the site is there for but then, you again have to wait. This reduces the reward of the site to the point where you can start focusing on something else instead.

Now, you say, "I can enable it, I can disable it". Yes you can, but, its hard. You can even tell Leechblock how hard it should be. But it always will be more time than waiting 30 seconds. You could either fiddle with the files of your firefox or start installing a different browser or - whatever, but it will take more than 30 seconds. And thats why you will wait for the 30 seconds timeout (because it resets if you do something else on the PC. You have to wait.)

So, this is my setup:

  1. I have one group that contains the "everydayleech" like tvtropes. I allow myself 5 minutes of these sites every 4 hours from 08.00 - 17.00 with a timeout of 30 seconds. I may not change the rules while they are active.
  2. I have one group of sites that I occasionally need for my work, but spend far too much time one (stack overflow is one of them). I allow myself 20 minutes of these sites per workday but they only count when they are active. I may change the rules on them because sometimes I just need to.
  3. I have one group of sites that I may not change and they contain the links to sites where workarounds of leechblock are listed.

This setup has caused my timeloss from about 7 hours / day to about 20 minutes per day.

I hope it helps you too.

  • I have had help with Internet addiction from at least five different institutions in the past two decades. I should probably find a new one, but in the end there isn't much news they can tell me, apart from "you need to stay away from the Internet altogether." Which is a bit hard because I am (of course) a programmer specializing in web apps. – Anonymous Coward Oct 8 '14 at 7:27
  • @AnonymousCoward I think that the tool you are looking for does not exist. If you want to share your (and want me to share my) experience of web addiction and how to get rid of it, send me an email. Thats nothing for the comments here. (Same goes to future visitors, you can write me an email for this) – Angelo Fuchs Oct 8 '14 at 7:33
  • Very unfortunately, LeechBlock isn't supported in Firefox 57+. Either I'll downgrade a version or will receive some advice from you on how to work around this hurdle. – Acsor Jan 17 '18 at 16:52
  • @none I have Version 52 currently. Good to know that theres a problem, good reason not to upgrade. I think it will go away as Leechblock adapts. – Angelo Fuchs Jan 17 '18 at 21:05
  • @AngeloFuchs, I downgraded to 56 but after installing the addon I noticed that the development of LeechBlock is being continued to LeechBlock NG for Firefox 57+. – Acsor Jan 17 '18 at 21:25

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