Frequently Asked Questions

1 About Pluckeye

1.1 What is Pluckeye?

Pluckeye is an Internet content filter, a kind of software that prevents the user from accessing parts of the Internet.

See also vision.html.

1.2 How does Pluckeye differ from other filters?

  • Pluckeye blocks all images and videos from the Internet by default.
  • Pluckeye doesn't use password protection; rather it uses a delay system for configuration. See also this question.
  • Pluckeye can block some content but allow other content from the same webhost (based on Internet media types).
  • Pluckeye doesn't come with a prepackaged list of web resources that it should block or allow; configuration is up to the end-user.
  • Pluckeye's target audience are those who want a filter for themselves rather than parents looking to protect their kids.
  • Pluckeye aims not at convenience but at inconvenience!
  • Pluckeye fully supports Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux, and does not support mobile systems. See also this question.
  • Pluckeye is available for free (as in gratis), although optional payments are encouraged.

See also this site for a list of Internet filters.

1.3 Is Pluckeye easy to bypass?

No, not if you have installed Pluckeye at "installation level 2". See here for a more thorough description of installation levels.

1.4 But couldn't I just uninstall Pluckeye whenever I want?

No. The delay must first be set to 0 before Pluckeye will uninstall. See also the uninstall sequence described here.

But isn't Pluckeye just a browser extension that can be disabled in the browser?

That is true at installation level 1 (the default). But real users are expected to use installation level 2.

But couldn't I just set the delay to 0 and then uninstall?

Yes, but to set the delay to 0 you would have to wait one delay cycle.

But isn't Pluckeye easy to bypass?

Try it and see.

1.5 Is Pluckeye a porn filter?

Many users of Pluckeye are seeking to avoid porn, but Pluckeye can also be used to block other sources of online temptation such as email, gambling, gaming, shopping, and social media sites.

1.6 Wait, it blocks all images? Not just porn and clickbait?

Even photos of my Aunt Gertrude? What's the point of the Internet without pictures?!

That is 4 questions.

Yes, by default, all images on the Internet are blocked. But most Pluckeye users whitelist sites and/or use scheduling rules so they can see images on some or many sites. Pluckeye is designed to be configured by the user.

1.7 I can whitelist sites? What good is a filter if I can simply access whatever I want?

Well, there's what you want now, what you want 5 hours from now, and what you want to want 5 hours from now. To which of these wants are you referring?

Pluckeye is designed to help users choose "meta wants" rather than "carnal wants".

The means for this is a delayed configuration system that allows the user to make any changes to the filter configuration, but the changes only take effect after a delay.

It is similar to the debt-ridden consumer putting his emergency credit card in the freezer so it can't be used for impulse purchases, the alcoholic choosing ahead of time not to walk past the liquor store where the smell of alcohol will be certain to be too much for him, the food addict choosing not to store chocolate ice cream in her freezer, and so on.

1.8 That delay sounds like it might be inconvenient at times.

Yes. That is the whole point. Hence, the Pluckeye motto is

Hooray for inconvenience!

Runner up mottos include:

  1. It ain't for wimps.
  2. It's up to you. (see this tip)
  3. Do whatever is necessary.
  4. You have to want it.
  5. Take the bull by the horns.
  6. Pluckeye is there to serve you.

1.9 What do you mean, "Hooray for inconvenience"? Who would want to be inconvenienced?

Folks who dislike the kind of convenience the Internet offers.

1.10 Can Pluckeye cure my porn addiction?

I don't think so; you need to make that choice. However, Pluckeye may be a tool that can help you make better choices.

1.11 Can you recommend any less extreme filters?

If you want a filter for yourself, you can configure Pluckeye to defer to browser-based filters that work in Firefox. This is what I recommend if you want a filter that is not easily bypassed.

For parents who want to protect their children, I defer to the following pages:

For users who want a monitor for accountability

Feel free to try one of the above. Some are free, some are not, and if any of them work for you, great!

Or, you can check out the filters site, it is intended to help you find available filters and monitors.

1.12 Can you recommend any organizations that can help me with my porn struggle / pornography addiction?

1.13 Can Pluckeye do X (email my friends, filter based on keywords, …)?

Maybe. This page and the tips page mention most of Pluckeye's features. If you have a feature request, feel free to let me know.

1.14 I'm don't have problems with porn, but I'm addicted to facebook. Might I have any use for Pluckeye?

Pluckeye can be used in a similar manner to SelfControl for Mac or SelfControl for Linux. Such users may want to remove the filtering rules that are specific to images. See how-to-filter-by-time.html.

1.15 What's with the name, "Pluckeye"? How's it pronounced?

It's an allusion to this:

And if your right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast if from thee, for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell." (Matthew 5:29, KJV)

And though it is spelled "pluck-eye", I pronounce the name pluck-ee.

1.16 How do you plan on monetizing Pluckeye?

I hope that users find it valuable and willingly pay for it.

1.17 How can I contribute to Pluckeye?

Glad you asked! See help-out.html.

1.18 Why and when was Pluckeye created?

Work on Pluckeye began in 2007 after the author (Jon) investigated what software was available for folks looking for a filter to help them overcome compulsive porn use – a problem he believed to be increasingly common and long lasting. Firmly believing such a product should be freely (as in gratis) available, he eventually contacted a few vendors who had free offerings (X3Watch, BlueCoat, and Qustodio) to see if it was possible to work with them on improving the self-control features in them. Unsurprisingly, none were interested in integrating a volunteer coder into their process. So, he undertook to build his own – after all, how hard could it be?

Thus was Pluckeye conceived. But because the author was easily sidetracked its gestation was horribly long, and a working version was not publicly available until January 2014.

2 Using Pluckeye

2.1 What operating systems does Pluckeye support?

Pluckeye supports Linux, Windows, and Mac OS X.

See also platforms.html.

2.2 How do I install pluckeye?

2.3 What are the recommended practices for using Pluckeye?

See the tips page.

2.4 What does "level 1" mean?

See the installation levels page.

2.5 What browsers does Pluckeye work with?

Firefox and Chrome. But at level 2, Pluckeye can block all browsers (i.e., Internet Explorer, Safari, and Opera).

Support for Chrome is currently partial on Windows 7 and below and on Linux (see known-issues.html).

2.6 Do I need to open and type at a console or terminal to use Pluckeye?

The basic feature set requires only pointing and clicking, and some people use Pluckeye without typing anything, ever.

However, if you want to use more advanced features such as scheduled rules, accountability, whiteouts or blackouts, then yes, you'll need to use a console to change Pluckeye settings for these features.

2.7 How do I whitelist a site?

In Firefox or Chrome, click on the Pluckeye button, and then click "Allow".

Or, from the command line:

pluck add "Allow mysite.org"

Keep in mind that the whitelisting will only take effect after the pluckeye delay has expired.

2.8 Can I whitelist a URL, perhaps using wildcards, pattern matching, a specific resource or something similar?

Yes, and no. As of Pluckeye 0.31.0, literal urls and url prefixes are supported, like so:

pluck add "Allow https://flickr.com/photos/myfamily"

Full regular expressions support is not yet implemented, and may never be. If you would like regex support, see this uservoice suggestion.

2.9 Can I block or allow part of a website, but not all of it?

Yes. Pluckeye supports blocking by URL. There are 2 ways to do it.

  1. Firefox or Chrome > Pluckeye button > Allow > Click the "down arrow" (aka caret) to allow a specific url.
  2. Use a terminal and add a rule for the url you would like to allow.
pluck add "Allow https://flickr.com/photos/myfamily"

2.10 Can I transfer (export/import) my Pluckeye settings between computers?

Yes.

First, export the settings from the source computer:

On Mac OS X or Linux:

cd ~/Desktop && pluck export >pluckeye-settings.txt

On Windows

"pluck.exe" export > %HOMEPATH%\Desktop\pluckeye-settings.txt

Copy pluckeye-settings.txt from the desktop of the destination computer.

Then, on the destination computer, import the settings:

On Mac OS X or Linux:

pluck import pluckeye-settings.txt

On Windows

"pluck.exe" import %HOMEPATH%\Desktop\pluckeye-settings.txt

2.11 How do I manually remove a rule?

If the rule was added using the "Allow" button in Firefox or Chrome, the "Default" button will remove the rule.

At the command line, you can use pluck rm. For example,

pluck add "Allow wikipedia.org"
pluck rm "Allow wikipedia.org"

2.12 What is the complete syntax for rules and settings?

2.13 I whitelisted a site, but I still can't see videos there. Why?

Hmm. What url? Please let me know so I can investigate for the sake of others.

There are a variety of ways to publish videos on the web.

2.14 I did not whitelist a site, but I can download videos. How can I block them?

That's odd. Try these commands:

pluck add "Deny application/octet-stream"
pluck add "Deny application/x-unknown-content-type"

If that does not fix the problem, give me the url (and optionally your email) so I can investigate.

2.15 Can Pluckeye notify my accountability partner?

2.16 I share a computer with others. Is it possible for some users to use Pluckeye while other users are completely oblivious to Pluckeye's presence?

Yes. See multiuser.html.

2.17 How do I access github.com, rubygems.org, npmjs.org, and heroku.com from the command line? They all use https.

Like so:

pluck add "Allow github.com"

Typical symptoms of this FAQ:

$ git clone https://github.com/plujon/fmemopen
Cloning into 'fmemopen'...
fatal: unable to access 'https://github.com/plujon/fmemopen/': Couldn't connect to server
$ bundle install
Unfortunately, a fatal error has occurred. Please see the Bundler
troubleshooting documentation at http://bit.ly/bundler-issues. Thanks!
/usr/lib/ruby/2.2.0/net/http.rb:879:in `initialize': Permission denied - connect(2) for "rails-assets.org" port 443 (Errno::EACCES)
$ heroku logs
Enter your Heroku credentials.
Email: blah
Password (typing will be hidden): blah
!    Unable to connect to Heroku API, please check internet connectivity and try again.

The solution to all of the above:

pluck add "Allow github.com"
pluck add "Allow rubygems.org"
pluck add "Allow rubygems.global.ssl.fastly.net"
pluck add "Allow npmjs.org"
pluck add "Allow heroku.com"
sleep $(pluck export | perl -lne 'print $1 if /Delay (\d+) seconds/')
git clone https://github.com/plujon/fmemopen
# Cloning into 'fmemopen'...

Also useful to some folks:

pluck add "program $(which git) whiteout"

2.18 How do I unblock Steam?

pluck add "Allow steampowered.com"

Alternatively

pluck add "program steam whiteout"

2.19 How can I watch videos on youtube?

It depends. One option is to schedule access to youtube. E.g.

pluck add "sometimes M10-12 allow youtube.com"

Another option is to allow one of the following "clean" youtube sites.

Another option is to whitelist specific videos.

2.20 How do I uninstall Pluckeye?

See the uninstallation instructions on how-to-install.html.

2.22 How do I block torrents?

pluck add "deny application/x-bittorrent"

2.23 How do I block all websites except a few select ones?

pluck add "Deny"

2.24 How do I block downloading of a live ISO?

pluck add "deny application/x-iso9660-image"

2.25 How do I watch videos on safeyoutube.net while denying youtube.com?

Deny video/
Allow safeyoutube.net

should work. But it might not in some versions of Firefox.

Allow safeyoutube.net
Deny youtube.com

will not work because "Deny youtube.com" will block videos from safeyoutube.net.

2.26 Is there a way to modify the settings in an ordinary editor?

If you only want to add settings:

pluck export >settings.txt
$EDITOR settings.txt
pluck import settings.txt

If you want to remove a lot of settings:

pluck export >settings.txt
$EDITOR settings.txt
pluck factoryreset # leaves a few settings
pluck import settings.txt

2.27 I notice my CPU "spinning". Does Pluckeye slow down Firefox and/or my computer?

Sometimes. In particular, some common sites such as

contain advertizing-related javascript that reacts poorly to the advertizements being blocked. Such javascript will sometimes cause the CPU to "spin in a loop" while it tries continuously to load ads.

If you notice your CPU is being heavily utilized by Firefox, close some tabs until the CPU spinning goes away. Alternatively, you can close Firefox completely and restart it.

2.28 How can I completely cut off Internet access at night?

To schedule daily blackouts from midnight to 6am and from 9pm (21:00) to midnight:

pluck add "sometimes 0-6&21-24 blackout"

2.29 Does Pluckeye interfere with the Mac App Store and iTunes? If so, how can I use the App Store?

Yes. From the known issues:

On Mac OS X, at installation level 2, iTunes and the App Store are blocked on some machines. The current workaround is to periodically drop down to level 1 to apply updates from the App Store.

If you would like to see this changed, you can vote for improved App Store support.

2.30 How do I allow all websites and then only block specific ones?

2.31 How do I reset Pluckeye to its default settings, with all images being blocked?

pluck factoryreset

3 Unanswered question?