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Don't laugh but I developed an addiction to chess and I play online hours and hours a day, and I can't stop. This takes space on my personal and professional life.

  • I asked the chess website to ban my ip but they can only do it at login time, which I'm able to circumvent.
  • I added a rule in the /etc/hosts to point the website to 127.0.0.1, which does help a bit but I found that googling for the website gives me access nonetheless
  • I don't trust parental control apps so much (and I'm afraid that if I inadvertently go on other kinds of websites my wife receives a notification)

Is there any way I could use?

I'm comfortable with giving the admin password of my laptop to my wife if needs to be (I've got nothing to hide)

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  • You would do that in the browser, which one are you using
    – Ruskes
    Dec 20, 2023 at 3:03
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    @Ruskes I use Chrome
    – Thomas
    Dec 20, 2023 at 4:18
  • It's not 100% clear to me if Google Chrome is honoring your /etc/hosts. Can you please clarify? I tried to invest some time in my answer to fix that problem, hoping it was yours. Thanks. Dec 22, 2023 at 14:48
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    If what you say is wholly accurate why are not looking at some kind of counselling? On this level, counselling might make the problem go away, but the technical barriers you suggest will never free you. Dec 22, 2023 at 23:06
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    @ValerioBozz thanks, just replied to you, that worked
    – Thomas
    Dec 23, 2023 at 2:48

6 Answers 6

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Trying only technological blocks for human problems is often folly, as a motivated smart person can poke holes in almost any control. Also, the thrill of bypassing a block (especially a solid one) can also be rewarding and feed the cycle.

Are you getting professional help managing your addiction? That will make whatever friction we can add 10x or 100x more effective. Second opinion is you leverage your relationship with your family / wife. This can help a huge amount if they will agree to review your screen time results and help reward you when you can curb the chess over time and let the system keep score in minutes of gaming. Parents of teenagers have used Apple tools to manage this for thousands and thousands of “seasons” and adult impulse control may often be amenable to approaches for strengthening the developing brain of a teenager. No blame, but as you work on your addiction you are training and developing your impulse control “muscles” after a period where they were not strong enough to help overcome your fascination with online chess and everything else going on in your life and bodily systems.

Second free suggestion is to set time limits in screen time and give your password for that to a trusted family member.

If more structure is needed than Apple provides, check out the commercial app freedom https://freedom.to/ or an open source app https://selfcontrolapp.com/

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  • thanks so much for the suggestions. Downloaded freedom and it works so far
    – Thomas
    Dec 20, 2023 at 5:32
  • Wonderful - feel free to drop your answer later and even select it if something else really helps break the cycle for you. Good luck to you and anyone facing addiction or imbalanced use of tech.
    – bmike
    Dec 20, 2023 at 13:46
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    If you want an open-source and free alternative, selfcontrolapp is great. Dec 21, 2023 at 17:33
  • I had a similar issue a few years ago, and technological blocks did help. I simply used an adblocker and programmed it to block the website. Of course disabling the adblocker is trivial, in fact it's just two clicks; however, in my case the big red warning "Are you really sure you want to proceed to this website??" that the adblocker threw at my face every time was already a huge help to me. My fingers had the muscle memory of the website's url, and the habit of typing it often (pretty much every time I opened the browser), so I needed the technological block to help me.
    – Stef
    Dec 23, 2023 at 14:27
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    Very well said @Stef -the extra friction can help as can social support. In the case of the OP, they already tried host blocking, contacting the web site in question to get an IP block, worked to bypass both of those blocks, so I was taking the approach that a little extra friction would need some back up. So glad everyone is working to suggest things they found helpful.
    – bmike
    Dec 23, 2023 at 14:49
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I actually had an addiction to the site quora.com

I also used freedom.to to limit my access during the day but enable it in the evening. The trick for me was to not block it completely but have just a window of time where I could access it. So whenever I felt the itch I would just have to wait until evening. Gradually it became less and less interesting until I stopped accessing it completely.

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  1. Install an ad-blocker. (I use uBlock Origin.)
  2. Add the website you want to block to your ad-blocker's filter list.

With uBO specifically, I went to its "Dashboard", clicked "My filters", and typed in example.com, and now here's what I see when I go to https://example.com:

example.com blocked by uBO

Obviously, you have to trust yourself not to just click "Proceed" or remove the filter, but if all you need is a big full-screen warning to remind you, this should do the job.

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    that's a good one. a long time ago I used adblock to hide the "infinite scroll feed" on my social network, and it worked! I should have thought of it!
    – Thomas
    Dec 21, 2023 at 22:19
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I've used the Google Chrome extension StayFocusd. It allows you to specify the amount of time you can use specific websites each day, and schedule times when it's not in effect. I used it to limit the amount of time I spent on Stack Overflow during working hours.

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It seems you are doing it right (editing /etc/hosts) but it seems Google Chrome may do not honor that file.

Again, here the example usage of your file /etc/hosts:

...
...
127.0.0.1 thatwebsite.com www.thatwebsite.com

You should indeed add there all related proxies you find out on the web. It's part of the "cure" to do it by yourself, I think. So, have fun in doing it. The Internet is a big place and it's hard for other people to give a specific solution, without even knowing what do you want to block exactly. You know better than anyone else.

Try Mozilla Firefox that honors /etc/hosts correctly; or, to fix Google Chrome, disable the option Privacy and Security > Use secure DNS (source: Google Chrome Ignoring Hosts File).

I recommend the /etc/hosts solution since it's 100% local, and does not require any additional software. So you avoid potential spyware. I do not recommend to blindly trust "parental control" applications. But this is just a way to do it. Pro: you need to be root on your machine to change this, so, you can explain to your partner how to do this (it's very simple, after all) and you can be locked out like a cute baby and protected by yourself, in an efficient and secure way, without extra software.

I recommend this solution to you, because you already mentioned /etc/hosts, so you seem already skilled with Unix to have fun with just its native power.

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  • Let me see if I can dig up the many questions here that show that hosts based blocks don’t work since browser search makes it trivial to have someone else resolve the IP address in a data center. You’ll need far stronger tools than a failed DNS lookup or local mapping since each browser takes its own path here.
    – bmike
    Dec 20, 2023 at 21:04
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    For more reading on using content blockers instead of hosts file or using LuLu to block outgoing connections: objective-see.org/products/lulu.html
    – bmike
    Dec 20, 2023 at 21:09
  • First time in Ask Different, provided a technical answer, and indeed, 2 immediate downvotes without related constructive comment. Thanks. Dec 21, 2023 at 9:31
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    Not sure about your experience on other sites, but telling people to find out for themselves on the web, and referencing a Q&A for Windows (again letting people figure out the details themselves) is something a lot of AD users don't consider helpful.
    – nohillside
    Dec 21, 2023 at 9:37
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    thanks for investigating! I just unchecked the "use secure DNS" option in Chrome and that made it work (meaning google for the chess website and clicking on it will not show me the page, unlike before)
    – Thomas
    Dec 23, 2023 at 2:48
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I use Screen time currently, but it is really easy to evade.

If you want to get a little deeper, you can block the sites on your router. That is a little harder to undo.

When I have a craving for doomscrolling, I set a timer and if I still want to do it, I allow myself.

Sometimes I set a timer for every 15 minutes to check in with myself and see if this is really what I want to be doing with my time.

I know this is straying from the technical solutions, but you can fix the tech without doing some work yourself too. Edit the /etc/hosts in your mind 😁 too.

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