Google Blogoscoped

Forum

WebmasterWorld Cloaking?  (View post)

pk_synths [PersonRank 2]

Tuesday, November 28, 2006
12 years ago9,732 views

looks like a snippet from an older forum post. snippets are usually just a snapshot of when the spider indexed the page so if a forum is busy an entry moves to "page 2" (for example) you are left with a "dead snippet".

I see it all the time on unSEOd forums.

Mambo [PersonRank 10]

12 years ago #

I just cant STAND WebmasterWorld. I god damn fall for it everytime. The site should be banned.

cw [PersonRank 1]

12 years ago #

I hate that....I get that all the time when searching for code snippets. it's a waste of time to click that link then find out you need to be a member to even see the snippet that is shown in the google results.

any idea if google plans on ever changing this?

Dan [PersonRank 0]

12 years ago #

I agree, I am glad someone brought this to attention. I constantly end up clicking these links in search results for all kind of technical stuff. It is VERY annoying. You think you found a thread relating to your issue, when you click you get a screen telling you to pay them. It drives me nuts.

Ryan [PersonRank 0]

12 years ago #

yes, I HATE this site.

Sadly, it's seen as an authority on a lot of SEO related things.

Strangely, I just had that happen to me about 5 min before reading this post. owell, no eval.google.com myths for me (i know the truth anyway...not telling)

who honestly pays to join a forum? Here, let me pay you so i can generate your content for you... doesn't fly for me.

I say remove it's forum from search results. It doesn't provide any useful experience to the user, it only frustrates them.

Perhaps if they had free signup, it'd be a different story.

Peter van der Graaf [PersonRank 1]

12 years ago #

Matt Cutts has pointed out more then once that Google allows cloaking in some circumstances. One of those is allowing access to Googlebot where normal visitors would need a cookie.

If this is one of those exceptions? I don't know, but why don't whe ask Matt on his blog?

Johannes [PersonRank 1]

12 years ago #

Sure, they're cloaking for ages. I think they even admitted cloaking their robots.txt somewhen.

Mambo [PersonRank 10]

12 years ago #

Considering the number of comments on this matter, I think it's time to start a "de-index WebmasterWorld" campaign.

Caydel [PersonRank 1]

12 years ago #

Brett Tabke, the owner, doesn't necessarily always care what the search engines think. He has been called on this before, but nothing has changed. At one point he was banned in all three major search engines, and that didn't seem to bother him much.

The point of the thing is, his forums are extremely popular. He doesn't need search engine traffic – he's done well in the past without it. The search engines could threaten him with banning, but he doesn't care.

This has been discussed before:

forums.digitalpoint.com/showth ...
blog.searchenginewatch.com/blo ...

If you Google 'webmasterworld cloaking' or similar phrases, you could come up with a ton of other hits...

Norbert [PersonRank 0]

12 years ago #

Another thing that is annoying is that I created a topic on their forums and two hours later I find myself not being able to access it. It turned out later that I needed to subscribe in order to see my own thread! So lame.

¥€$ [PersonRank 1]

12 years ago #

Hello!
webmasterworld.com/robots.txt

jedweb [PersonRank 1]

12 years ago #

I too can't stand this practice and my time has been wasted by it on countless occasions. As a result I have an extremely strong dislike for WebmasterWorld and would take pleasure in it's demise.

Down with WebmaseterWorld!

Philipp Lenssen [PersonRank 10]

12 years ago #

> webmasterworld.com/robots.txt

... which points to the following as being the real one, whatever that means...
webmasterworld.com/robots2

Ryan [PersonRank 0]

12 years ago #

Wasn't there a way to get a free account a while ago?

I remember Matt posting something about it, but it appears that they've removed that option.

I mean I'm vastly overpaid and all, but I can't justify the $0.41/day to access their forum.

Nathan [PersonRank 0]

12 years ago #

I somehow have access to the information without having to log in...

Philipp Lenssen [PersonRank 10]

12 years ago #

> Matt Cutts has pointed out more then once
> that Google allows cloaking in some circumstances.

If that's true (which I don't know), then I think it's extremely unfair that Google would team up with some sites to allow cloaking – either they allow this for everyone, and don't ban BMW and BuyMoreV1agraNow for cloaking, or they allow this for no one, and ban WebmasterWorld all the same.

Travis Harris [PersonRank 10]

12 years ago #

¥€$
<<Hello!
webmasterworld.com/robots.txt>>
That is rather funny!

Caydel [PersonRank 1]

12 years ago #

>I think it's extremely unfair that Google would team up
>with some sites to allow cloaking

It's not like Google *doesn't* have two sets of rules... For example, in Adsense, there are completely different sets of rules for Premium publishers, and run of the mill publishers. In Adwords, many advertisers who are big enough to warrant a rep have more lee-way with what they can do than the normal joe-advertiser.

Google has different rules for different people, and they always have. This isn't anything new...

Casey [PersonRank 0]

12 years ago #

Matt Cutts on how to sign up for a free account for WebmasterWorld. Don't know if it still works.

mattcutts.com/blog/how-to-sign ...

Johan Terpstra [PersonRank 1]

12 years ago #

Matt Cutts is on a Google IP. WMW checks IP + user agent, Matt Cutts sets user agent as Googlebot and voila he's in for free.

Yes it's cloaking, yes Google allows it and yes it's damn unfair and yes it's even more annoying than all the before.

Erik [PersonRank 0]

12 years ago #

Totally agree – they don't play by the rules, and it annoys those of use trying to use Google. They should be dropped.

Unless they are paying for the privledge?

Johan Terpstra [PersonRank 1]

12 years ago #

Even if Google pays it's a bad user experience for those not paying and the result could easily replaced by an actual useful result. Make the pay-for site supplemental IMO.

Mike [PersonRank 0]

12 years ago #

Excellent idea Johan, I am a member of WMW (free sign-up) and get heaps of useful information from the site. That said, I am opposed to "paying for content that I help generate" as an earlier poster stated, and I get annoyed when "some" posts are "private".

Pierre [PersonRank 0]

12 years ago #

Google reads webmasterworld (according to googleblog.blogspot.com/). Might it be there is a slightly bias ?

Or, WMW by having some google "trust" (it has a link on the official google blog) has a higher pagerank, which is then feeded to its other subpages...

Aside that, such "cloaking-or-whatever-they-re-doing" sites are PITA.

Roger Browne [PersonRank 10]

12 years ago #

Don't forget that bugmenot.com makes it easy to bypass registration screens like these (if it doesn't cause you ethical problems).

Brian Mingus [PersonRank 10]

12 years ago #

I'm fairly sure that this is the kind of cloaking that Google is ok with, given they facilitate the cloaking of other deep-websites whose content they deem valuable. I've mentioned the "Google Indexer" on these forums before [1]. Essentially, Google has a bunch of subscription accounts to sites on the Internet that force you to log in to view their content. Google shows you snippets as if you were logged in, but when you go to the website you don't see the content you were expecting.

As far as search engine users are concerned, the effect is exactly the same as if those websites were cloaking.

[1] blogoscoped.com/forum/12652.ht ...

Mambo [PersonRank 10]

12 years ago #

I can confirm that free registration is still available.

ThomasB [PersonRank 1]

12 years ago #

Philipp, with all respect, but I think this post and its comments just show a lack of information.

Google allows cloaking in various circumstances such as Session-IDs, subscriptions (Newspapers, Forums, Newsletters, ... come into mind), pretty inflexible shop-software, ... and that was even admitted by Google in the past:

>Q: Is it cloaking to strip out session ids for just the bots?
>A: They all said it is "no problem". Google added, "in fact, please do that."
seroundtable.com/archives/cat_ ...

WebmasterWorld is and was always free and registration can be done within minutes:
webmasterworld.com/regv4.cgi

The reasons are understandable and unfortunately this is still the only way of doing it:
seroundtable.com/archives/0028 ...

I seriously don't know what the purpose of this post is, but putting a competitor, which WMW is to your blog, in a bad light is definetly not a fine way of doing it, especially when it's not based on truth due to a lack of research.

JohnMoo [PersonRank 1]

12 years ago #

"free registration" and you all were not able to spot it? is that misleading or what? Even Matt Cutts had to do a posting on how to get in free, is that crazy or what?!

What if we all add a login-box (cloaked only to users of course!) to our sites, collect names + email addresses + default passwords before we allow anyone to our content. Sounds like a plan! I hear email addresses + passwords are worth $10 per 1000, if you don't want to spam them yourself.

It's just like the normal web-spam – they act like they have content but send you to a page with all sorts of payment-logos on it instead. "Webspammers World"

JohnMoo [PersonRank 1]

12 years ago #

- they're not just stripping session ids.
- the registration process is misleading
- wmw and this blog do not share the same user groups (see the posts here) + have different goals

Come on Thomas, tell us how WMW is not going against the Google guidelines with that kind of code?

ThomasB [PersonRank 1]

12 years ago #

The other way WMW could do which just wouldn't make sense is letting GB through and DMCA Google for every entry that (partially) uses WMWs content. I think G would need to set-up an API in that case.

Regarding competition, search engine traffic comes into mind:
google.com/search?q=google+new ...

ThomasB [PersonRank 1]

12 years ago #

Just as a sidenote:
I'm moderator at WMW, but expressing my personal oppinions here.

Brian Mingus [PersonRank 10]

12 years ago #

> Come on Thomas, tell us how WMW is not going against the Google guidelines with that kind of code?

Not to side with anyone here, but I just told you.

webdeb [PersonRank 0]

12 years ago #

wow everyone......

WMW is called webMASTERworld
.......not webWHINERworld.

They are making a vailiant attempt to keep goofballs and spammers out of the forums.....

just make up a new email address and a UN PS combo...

the information is there for free if you want it
...and it's well worth the entry fee

I have a few sites with forums and I know that the likelyhood WMW will get spammed if it doesn't have some kind of gateway is very high ... and obvious.....

Broker [PersonRank 0]

12 years ago #

I still don't quite get the problem WMW experiences with rogue bots, some of the links to explanations are part of the WMW forums, which I can't read, and I'm not willing to register just for this single issue. Is it the number of page requests that those bots generate? Are there any numbers mentioned?

you guys are mad [PersonRank 0]

12 years ago #

WMW has always been free. You just need a non-free email address.

Philipp Lenssen [PersonRank 10]

12 years ago #

I didn't complain that registration was costly, ThomasB, in fact I'm registered on WMW for a long time – and I don't consider it "competition" either, as I find all good search related news sites & bloggers are really a group of friends and colleagues more than anything else (cross-linking to news bits all the time because it's *relevant*, and it's one community, but hopefully also not shying away from honest criticism of each other). No, WMW is a good source of information, but that doesn't make its cloaking any less annoying to web surfers and searchers like me... and in fact, if there's any complaint coming out of this thread, then it's a complaint directed at *Google* for treating this kind of cloaking differently than others, by knowing it yet allowing it (if that's truly the case, which I'm still not perfectly sure about). In the end, WebmasterWorld are entitled to do whatever they feel like.

shamess [PersonRank 1]

12 years ago #

Yeah, that site really is getting annoying.

JohnMoo [PersonRank 1]

12 years ago #

>The other way WMW could do which just wouldn't make sense
>is letting GB through and DMCA Google for every entry that
>(partially) uses WMWs content.
Well, they ARE letting the Googlebot through and keeping the visitors out.

Yes they'll get spammed by users and bots – all forums do, even those that require a registration before you can *post* (not read). Yes they'll get scraped, but it's trivial to do so with cookies enabled anyway.

If you ask me, it's not about bot-control, it's about money. And Google is playing along.

Piotr Zgodzinski [PersonRank 4]

12 years ago #

of course it's about the money, it's also unfair, what makes me mad. their cloaked entry page is misleading, no doubt it should be banned, but it won't be...

Elias Kai [PersonRank 10]

12 years ago #

NewYork times and many other newspapers has similar ways and it has been out there for 2 years as far as I know.

John Honeck [PersonRank 10]

12 years ago #

The quality of content, quality of the site, etc. should all be irrelevant. Either cloaking is allowed or it isn't, and google should clear this up. It's been brought up on Matt's blog multiple times, without a response. It's been brought up in the google webmasters group, without a response.

As stated before in this thread, WMW may have valid reasons to want to cloak, and have noble intentions to not spam, but not all sites are that way.

Just because the site shows the person that registers the same content as the bot sees, does not mean that it's not spam. It could be a way to harvest emails, common passwords, etc.

Other questions arise as well. If WMW and NyTimes can cloak, but other sites get banned for it, then this must be a manual alteration, which totally goes against google's algorithmically based philosophy. If it is a manual process, who do I contact to get approved for this right? Are these sites reviewed constantly? What stops a site from turning to the dark side and selling its ever growing list of names that all come free courtesy of Google's SERPs?

Philipp Lenssen [PersonRank 10]

12 years ago #

For reference, some of the previous NYT coverage:
blogoscoped.com/archive/2006-0 ...

John Honeck [PersonRank 10]

12 years ago #

Philipp, Thanks for that link. Much of the same arguments made then still apply to this case. Yet no official answer...hmm?

I'm going to go wrap my house in tinfoil, be right back.

brett tabke [PersonRank 1]

12 years ago #

We do require some high abuse (read: cable isps) to login. It's either that, or get spidered off the net. If we didn't, bots would out number the humans 10 to 1. The ISP's will do nothing to control the sitituation.

Good article on the subject of bot banning here:

ojr.org/ojr/stories/051213nile ...

JohnMu [PersonRank 10]

12 years ago #

Brett, have you removed the forced login page? I couldn't get it to trigger and someone else also mentioned the same.

If so, thanks + good on you.

Philipp Lenssen [PersonRank 10]

12 years ago #

John, I'm still getting it... a search for [php-based cms] and then a click on the WebmasterWorld results shows me a login page. (Except on a browser which I previously used to log into WMW.)

John Honeck [PersonRank 10]

12 years ago #

Philipp, you must be on one of those shady cable isps.

I logged out of wmw, cleared my cookies and did the same search.

I was redirected sneakily to the log-in that asks for money.

The system apparently is tracking the referral as well, as the url you are redirected to is:

webmasterworld.com/login.cgi?s ... u r l = webmasterworld.com/forum4

But the URL in the #1 spot of the SERPS is:

www.webmasterworld.com/forum44/1287.htm

I guess the rejoicing was premature. I filed a worthless spam report just because its the right thing to do. I selected.

   1. Page content different from Google description
   2. Misleading redirection

If you search, and click on a WMW link, you need the spam report plug-in.

spam-report.net/en/install.htm ...

[note: spaces added to the above URL to avoid tripping the filter]

Jeff Crossley [PersonRank 1]

12 years ago #

I agree that either WMW should stop the cloaking or Google should stop indexing them. I constantly see useful looking search results, only to click and get the big "subscribe to WebmasterWorld" page. I've filed Google abuse reports, but they have so far been ignored. If more of you file abuse reports, maybe it will help. The form is at google.com/contact/spamreport. ... .

Brett's suggestion that this was done for technical reasons to ban bots just insults our intelligence. Users are redirected to a big "Subscribe to WebmasterWold" page which says nothing about free access and was deliberately designed to trick users into paying.

Again, we need to press Google to actually enforce their own rules by reporting this nonsense to google.com/contact/spamreport. ... .

Jeff Crossley [PersonRank 1]

12 years ago #

One more thing to note is the webmasterworld has specifically prohibited Google from caching their pages. Otherwise users could defeat the cloaking by clicking on the "cached" link in Google results and seeing the page as shown to Google. In the "php-based cms" query we've been discussing, webmasterworld is the only result on the first page which blocks Google Cached. So much for Brett's excuse that he enabled this shady cloacking to prevent spiders from consuming to much resources. Enabling page caching would actually decrease resource consumption.

-Jeff

Jeff Crossley [PersonRank 1]

12 years ago #

This is my last post, I promise :). But here is another article about WebMasterWorld cloaking and Google's double standard:

tips.webdesign10.com/googles-d ...

Suuzen Anderson [PersonRank 0]

12 years ago #

Whenever I'm looking for info on a coding or seo topic, I always add -webmasterworld (i.e., [minus sign]webmasterworld) to any Google search query. That keeps all the nasty little cloaked webmasterworld links out of my results.

Josh [PersonRank 0]

12 years ago #

Jeff, thanks for mentioning my blog post where I covered this Google double-standard on cloaking in-depth. My post also has an example of experts-exchange.com's search engine cloaking.

Ram Manohar Tiwari [PersonRank 0]

11 years ago #

I am facing a problem with my website as it seems GoogleBot recently
started executing the JavaScript code , while crawling my website.

Can you please let me know if Googlebot can actually run JavaScripts?
I saw a few forum posts that suggest, URLs can be extracted from the
JS code. But the problem with my webpage shows that Googlebot can
actually execute the javascript code.

I used javascript code to solve the orphan page peoblem of my framed
website. [ as suggested in netmechanic.com/news/vol5/java ...
]

Within the last week, I found that my high ranking website on SAP
(ERP) has lost its rank for a lot many keywords. But that's not the
problem, I want to discuss.

One of my website page www.geocities.com/rmtiwari/Resources/ Management/ASAP_Links.html
ranks number one (still is) for the term 'ASAP Methodology'.

However, from today onwards the title of the webpage has changed to
the main.html title (not ASAP_Links.html), used in Javascript to
solve the orphan page issue. That seems to suggest, Googlebot is
actually executing the Javascript. And all my pages will eventually
end up in having the same title.

Please suggest.
<<
Actually, while trying to get a solution for my issue, I found Matt
Cutts' blog and left a comment on a related topic that is being
discussed at the moment on cloaking [ mattcutts.com/blog/a-quick-wor ...
].

That actually means showing a diffrent version of page to visitor and
another version to the Googlebot. Matt's blog did show my comments to
me but not to anyone else [ IP differentiation stuff] as it was
considered to be unrelated to the site being discussed (WMW).

I don't which version of his blog will be shown to Googlebot, one with
my comments on or off :-) And does that amount to cloaking? Just
kidding .
>>

Thanks,
Ram

wmw-hater [PersonRank 0]

11 years ago #

i vote we start an anti-wmw campaign.

ideas:

1. we take turns buying and sharing a subscription. post the username and password on the net. we can even create a virtual company to fit within guidelines of wmw if needed.

2. all use rel="nofollow" links whenever we link to wmw (or remove link all together).

for those that are not aware:
1. wmw forces registration, but not paid--i did it myself last week.
2. the free subscription gets you access to many/most threads, although there are somme premium, paid only, threads.

This thread is locked as it's old... but you can create a new thread in the forum. 

Forum home

Advertisement

 
Blog  |  Forum     more >> Archive | Feed | Google's blogs | About
Advertisement

 

This site unofficially covers Google™ and more with some rights reserved. Join our forum!