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[TUTORIAL] How to Block / Disable Google Sidewiki

Discussion in 'Black Hat SEO' started by 195471, Oct 3, 2009.

  1. 195471

    195471 Regular Member

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    This thread was inspired by Yukinari's video about Sidewiki. I just heard about the Sidewiki today, and I must say that while it can be useful for getting traffic, there are a lot of problems with this add-on. Among the problems are:

    1) As of right now, there's no way for web site owners to opt-out of Sidewiki.

    2) Sidewiki takes up a sizeable portion of screen real estate.

    3) Sidewiki allows people to "hijack" traffic - good if you're the hijacker, bad if you're the site owner.

    4) Negative comments can be removed by the site owner, but this adds more work for people, especially those who have disabled comments on their blogs because they don't want to spend the day moderating user-generated content or hire someone else to do it.

    There's a huge discussion about the implications of Sidewiki at the resource below, and I encourage you to read it:

    Code:
    http://www.buzzmachine.com/2009/09/23/google-Sidewiki-danger/
    What I was thinking about as I read the discussion at the above URL was how the Sidewiki can be blocked so as to avoid abuse by your competitors and any do-gooders who "think" that your site is a "scam". One way to do it is to, for all web site visitors, check if they have the GToolbar installed and, if they do, redirect them to a page explaining how evil the toolbar is and that they must remove it if they want to get access to your content.

    I got the idea from SE R0undtable:

    Code:
    http://www.seroundtable.com/archives/020857.html
    ...but I ran into a problem when I was implementing the solution. I thought that instead of the redirect page containing a bunch of info about how "wrong" the Sidewiki/Google Toolbar is, I'd put a brief message about it but also a huge banner for a CPA offer. That way, the traffic won't be wasted if the user doesn't want to take the time to uninstall the toolbar or has no idea what the "warning" message is about and therefore decides to just leave the site altogether.

    Okay, so the problem was that on the page that people would be redirected to, the image (i.e., CPA offer banner) was not showing. This, I discovered, was because the rewrite rule in the .htaccess file (see seoroundtable article or code below) was instructing the server to redirect ALL HTTP requests (including images) to the "warning" page. The result was a broken image.

    To solve this, I created an iframe on the redirect page, and the iframe's source was a page on a DIFFERENT domain that just had the banner. I'm not an Apache expert, so there could very well be another way to solve this problem, but what I did works for my purposes.

    So if you want to block people from using the Sidewiki for "evil" when it comes to your own web sites, here's what you can do:

    Step 1

    Create an .htaccess file (or add to your current one) with the following code:

    Code:
    RewriteEngine On
    RewriteCond %{HTTP_USER_AGENT} GTB [NC]
    RewriteRule .* sidewikiisevil.html [L]
    
    The "sidewikiisevil.html" is the page that people will be redirected to if they have the GToolbar installed. You can rename this page to whatever you want, and of course, you can put whatever content you want on it. An affiliate/CPA banner is one option. "Counter Strike" is yet another. :D

    Step 2

    Create your own version of sidewikiisevil.html. Include an iframe whose "src" attribute is a page on another one of your domains.

    Code:
    <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD XHTML 1.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/xhtml1/DTD/xhtml1-transitional.dtd">
    <html xmlns="http://www.w3.org/1999/xhtml">
    <head>
    <meta http-equiv="Content-Type" content="text/html; charset=iso-8859-1" />
    <title>Untitled Document</title>
    <meta name="robots" content="noindex,nofollow,noarchive,noydir,noodp" />
    </head>
    
    <body>
    <div align="center">
    <h1>WARNING: Google Toolbar with Sidewiki detected.</h1>
    <h3>Our content is accessible only by those who DO NOT have the Google Toolbar with Sidewiki installed. You must remove this toolbar if you would like to view our site.</h3>
    <br />
    <iframe src="http://www.oneofyourotherdomains.com/somepage.html" width="600" height="500" scrolling="no" frameBorder="0"></iframe>
    </div>
    </body>
    </html>
    
    Key points:

    - Adjust the width and height of the iframe to match your banner size or content area.
    - Use "frameBorder" with a capital "B" for IE. If you use lowercase, IE may show a border around your iframe, and it's really ugly. :)
    - At this point, if the user clicks on the Sidewiki button to post comments about your "sidewikiisevil" page, they won't be able to do it. At least according to my tests, clicking on the Sidewiki button just brings up a box explaining what the Sidewiki is.

    Step 3

    Create a web page on another one of your domains. This page will simply have your banner or other content, and it will be the iframe's source (somepage.html) in the example above).

    Code:
    <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD XHTML 1.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/xhtml1/DTD/xhtml1-transitional.dtd">
    <html xmlns="http://www.w3.org/1999/xhtml">
    <head>
    <meta http-equiv="Content-Type" content="text/html; charset=iso-8859-1" />
    <title>Untitled Document</title>
    </head>
    
    <body>
    <a href="http://www.oneofyourotherdomains.com/go.php?id=whatever" target="_blank"><img src="images/banner.jpg" alt="" border="0" /></a>
    </body>
    </html>
    
    Key points:

    - This other domain of yours should, IMO, be one that is used solely for the purpose of storing the pages that will be called in iframes on the domains where you're trying to ward off Sidewiki users. If this other domain also attempts to block Sidewiki, then that defeats the purpose of using this method at all.
    - Make sure that your link opens in a new window/tab (target="_blank").
    - For the image link (if you decide to use a banner), you can put your affiliate URL, or you can hide your URL by using a PHP redirect file, hence the "go.php?id=whatever". The code for go.php is:

    Code:
    <?php
      $id = $_GET['id'];
      $links = array(
    	"whatever" => "http://www.youraffiliateurl.com", // if listing multiple parameter/URL combinations, be sure to separate them with a comma
            "whatever2" => "http://www.anotheraffiliateurl.com" 
        );
    
      header("Location:".$links[$id]);
      exit;
    ?>
    
    Step 4

    Upload the pages and images to their respective domains. Test your set-up by installing the Google Toolbar with Sidewiki. When you visit your domain, you should be redirected to your "sidewikiisevil" page, and your banner or other chosen content should be visible.

    </tutorial>

    I hope that this guide helps those who want to "spit at Google" for introducing Sidewiki.
     
    • Thanks Thanks x 1
  2. wowhaxor

    wowhaxor Executive VIP Premium Member

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    Wow dude, you went all out for that.
     
  3. Spawn

    Spawn Jr. VIP Jr. VIP

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    nice,but im on the opposite side of the fence with this one,i think i may turn hijacker!
     
  4. JustinW3

    JustinW3 Newbie

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    Thanks for this excellent tutorial. Much appreciated.

    Meanwhile, elsewhere, I see others are taking counter measures against SideWiki too. For instance, I just found www dot swikiblocker dot com which sells a script that lets visitors leave sidewiki comments, seemingly as normal, but in fact they are in a sandbox and so their sidewiki comments (whether good or bad) will never be seen again!
    [Note: I have no connection with that site; just sharing info.]