Webmasterworlds Cloaked Content Has The SEO Natives Restless

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Matt Cutts made a post A Quick Word About Cloaking basically what I got out of it is that webmasterworld is cloaking content to googlebot and they are under investigation. This is really no news. I think this is Matt giving Brett a last warning (which really nobody else would get) before google dumps them (that is purely based on my opinion).

Bret quickly comes in to the comments and says thanks to Matt (2x) for the heads up, then offers a explanation.

First, thanks to Matt for the heads up. As most know, wmw has been the target of extreme amounts of bot activity over the years and has taken proactive steps to fight it. Our first and foremost job is to the regular members of the site. I have done everything I can think of to stop the bots from the cable and dsl isp’s. I have even gone so far as to ban entire tlds some of time (china, russia) where heavy botnet activity exists.

I think we have finally found a system that everyone can live with and keeps the content open for everyone, but slows down the bots. I say slows down, because there is no way to stop them.

Thanks Matt

Now here is where I suspect Matt Cutts and the rest of the people who do have to deal with high volume sites get really annoyed.

Fricking botnets are your problem Brett? Are you serious? I am going to stop here. Before I cause a crapstorm again and point out some serious flaws with webmasterworld and why they have the issues they have.

Its amazing how the digitalpoint forums (operated by 1 admin and 4-5 moderators) continue to have the webmaster forums marketshare and yet somehow manage to deal with all these “botnets” without cloaking their content, slowing down users, or whatever the hell else your excuse is.

I know most of the non technical people will buy the BS but I also have a good feeling Matt sees right through it .

BTW read Dannys excellent post too

36 thoughts on “Webmasterworlds Cloaked Content Has The SEO Natives Restless

  1. SEO Mash

    Another reason why DP rocks my world and WMW sucks monkey balls. WMW seems to be more concerned with getting people to pull out their credit card than providing an open and helpful community.

  2. Gary R. Hess

    I don’t really understand what Brett said has to do with cloaking content to Google, then once we get to the page see a ‘please register’ page. Really annoying in the results..

  3. ToddW

    Anyone every thought that Matt/Google had to finally reply because SO MANY people were wondering WHY/HOW WMW could get away with this for sooo long.

    Maybe this is google’s / Matt’s way of letting “US” know that G does know about it and is investigating… in reality maybe (of course) they’ve known about it all along and have just been putting this off.

  4. Jason

    Getting Brett to fix it is one thing, but getting him to pay back all those subscriptions that were “conned” because people were lured in is something else. Botnets my butt, he’s just scraping in the money from new users.

  5. JLH

    What I got out of this little discourse.

    1) Apparently Google doesn’t have an automatic method for detecting cloaking.
    2) If they do suspect it based on hundreds of blog and forum posts they’ll get around to looking at it in a few years.
    3) When they do look for it the investigation will take a couple weeks.
    4) Why didn’t Matt just drop an email to Brett saying he two weeks to clean up or they’ll drop the hammer on his free sign-up advertising program from Google’s results pages.
    5) Unlike the BMW outing that got reversed in record time WMW get’s the heads up this time. I wonder how many little people who are cloaking are going to just disappear with no recourse to Matt since they don’t sponsor SEO conferences with him as a keynote speaker.
    6) I really don’t get what all the hub-bub is about WMW as they don’t allow any real world conversation to take place. It’s a great place to grab a code snip, or a server setting but as far as google/seo/webmastering goes it’s worthless as you can’t even discuss the niche or an area of concentration in a thread.
    7) The fact that they feel the need to go to this extreme to prevent scraping shows more of a defect of Google giving the scrapers position above WMW as original authors is condemnation of Google more than anything else. They sure wouldn’t care if someone copied their content and didn’t get any ranking and thus traffic for it.
    8) When you don’t have a leg to stand on start arguing semantics and definitions.

  6. soul-healer

    I have read matt post. Google is doing some kind of major update (This what i think) and they are dealing with all loopholes (if any) to filter the best possible results so they can provide the best to users.

  7. Pete Wailes

    Does make you wonder… Personally, I wouldn’t have given them the warning. They’re being devious sods, and they know it. And I completely agree about the botnets excuse being a load of bs.

    My question is though, why are they telling them, as a warning? Normally you get banned and then told, not the other way around… One rule for the masses anyone?

  8. Dastar

    This is FINALLY being addressed. I wondered how they got away with that so long. It was tiring to see WMW show up in the search results, only to click through to read a registration page.

  9. Lea de Groot

    But I can’t see what Brett would be getting out of it. Why would he cloak other than for the reasons stated?

    Perhaps WMW gets hit more badly by bots because it is older than the other forums?

    I think WMW would get far less hate over the need to log in if they just wrote the ‘register please’ page a little better. Its usability is frightful. :(

    IMHO

  10. Chris Alexander

    He’s getting signups. How is that not obvious?

    You search for a webmaster question. You click on the WMW link in serps, to go read your answer. When you get to WMW, you have to signup to see the answer.

  11. Ryan

    Wow what a joke this is. Botnets? Is this the old days of IRC?

    Anyone worth their weight in programming can figure out a way to keep malicious bots out while cloaking content to legit search engine robots like Google and such.

    This is laughable.

  12. Gamermk

    It is because of WMW that I’d like Google to allow us to customize our search with our own personal Black List. Just because G thinks its fine doesn’t mean that I should have to see this useless Register Now message. Hell if they did that, it would give them some great insight into how they should be looking to improve their results.

  13. dillsmack

    More like paid registrations. I consider myself pretty fucking savvy, and for 6 months whenever I clicked a WMW serps link I couldn’t find how to login for free. Maybe it was there, but I couldn’t find it. I eventually stopped clicking those results. I refuse to even register for free there.

  14. jim

    WMW has been doing this for a long time, where they appear in the SERPs and clicking thru leads you to a “PAY ME NOW” page… thats why DP rules.

  15. natekapi

    I felt like such a n00b when I realized that you could register to Webmasterworld for free.

    I think they were definitely being a little too sneaky so it’s nice to see that the registration page doesn’t come up anymore! At the same time, it sucks for them that their content gets scraped so much.

    Lots of comments from this story all over the place now!

  16. Pingback: Headlines of Note for March 5, 2007

  17. Lea de Groot

    Well, yeah, maybe, but what is the value of that?
    There is no onselling over there, no one pressures you to take up a paid membership.
    There isn’t even a display (that i have noticed anyway) of how many members there are if its purely for ego purposes.

    So, if its done for nefarious reasons… whats in it for him?

    Its not that I think anything stupid like ‘Brett wouldn’t do that’ and I don’t want to come off as an apologist, but I can’t see the point of the claims, and Occam’s Razor says that the simplest explanation wins, and ‘we have problems with bots’ seems simpler than ‘we are collecting emails from people who are quite capable of creating throwaway addresses for no obvious purpose’
    ?

  18. John Loch

    At the end of the day they’ve had fair warning.

    Either they pull it up, or lose it. Far as I can see the bullshit aint flyin. And for once, I agree with MC in that professional courtesy is nice… to a point.

    Maybe IP filters aren’t enough. Maybe Agent strings are bollox. MAYBE theres alternatives they should discuss with Google.

    All I know is WMW currently enjoys more ‘forgiveness’ than most.. understandable to a point.

    And I DO agree with SHOES statement 100%+ with respect to DigitalPoint. A great example.. but then.. maybe DP has seen a little G magic in the past as well.. who knows :)

  19. fivecentnickel.com

    Hmmm… I hadn’t noticed that they stopped cloaking at WMW. All I know is that it used to bug the crap out of me when I tried to click through on a google search.

  20. Mong

    I don’t agree with Brett’s reason of doing cloaking thing. But i think its still serving as a quality webmaster forums with no daily repetitive questions asked in every forum.

  21. State Of Brain

    There is a lot of grey area in cloaking as well as anything with ebiz. Sometimes people go ahead and live on the line and do things unless google specifically states it. I think google should specify rather than just come up with an even broader statement on where they stand.

  22. Tim Linden

    You can’t convince me that of all sites, a forum that gives help to webmasters doesn’t know that they are doing something wrong. I could see some guy running a forum about dogs not knowing, but “Webmaster World” is implying they know better.

  23. geegel

    I wouldn’t be that harsh. The degree of openness a forum has is usually part of a wider strategy. I’m not that much of an adept to crapstorms and WMW despite its lowering stature still has a lot to offer.

    Regards, George

  24. Praveen

    Hello

    My thoughts are WMW are straight and there is nothing wrong that they are doing to intentionally generate additional traffic from Google.com

    However they should have been more proactive in dealing with this situation.

  25. infonote

    I think it is all about compromise. I think their point is bandwith consumption. With the bots frequently accessing WMW, less bandwith is available to Google.

    But why ban nations? In Google Webmaster tools they can limit the crawling rate to slow.

    Ok true it is only Google, but maybe a similar service exists for MSN, Yahoo, Ask etc

  26. Grivon

    Cloaking has ALWAYS sparked an obsurdly enormous debate.. just keep your own front porch clean people and we’ll all get along great!

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