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Cloaking Forum

    
Is this 'cloaking'?
using a search engine skin
Matthew McNally




msg:675849
 2:42 am on Jan 26, 2004 (gmt 0)

We run several quite large forums - a <car brand> owners club.

The forum software we use identifies 'bots by their URL, and also allows us to treat them as members of a specific group and use a specific skin.

As the boards are very busy, we have several bots almost constantly online.

This is a good thing, and I'm not complaining! :D

To reduce the load on the server, and help the bots in only following links that they should, I am considering creating a specific search engine skin.

This skin would NOT interfere with the actual content of the boards - each and every post would be presented in the true manner, with the same text etc.

But - I would remove the pretty graphics and those links that are redundant to the bot - such as "search" and "new reply", "new poll" - all the member contact stuff like "pm", "ICQ" etc etc.

Aim is to reduce the load on the server, and make the bots job a bit faster and easier.

The question is - do you think this would be classified as a "bad thing" and maybe get us in trouble?

As I said - we would not alter or restrict the true content of the board (hell - we don't WANT to - its the loads of on topic, fresh all the time boards that keep us getting indexed and listed! :) )

thanks in advance folks ;)

 

volatilegx




msg:675850
 2:43 pm on Jan 26, 2004 (gmt 0)

> Is this 'cloaking'?

Strictly, yes -- it's cloaking.

> The question is - do you think this would be classified as a "bad thing" and maybe get us in trouble?

My gut feeling is that you would not be penalized for such a thing if an employee of a search engine was reviewing your site and discovered the discrepancy. However, an automated script doing the same review could trip some kind of penalty.

You might want to review your reasons for doing this. Spiders rarely request images, etc. Removing the images from a "skin" for spiders probably won't help reduce your server load.

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