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Web Dev + WordPress + Security

Opt Out of Google FLOC for Site Visitors (One Line of Code)

Floc of Sheep

Google has another new thing they are doing, called FLOC (Federated Learning of Cohorts). It’s used to — surprise — track user activity across websites. Opting out ideally is handled by the user, who can customize their browser settings to disable FLOC while surfing around the Web. Beyond configuring your browser to opt-out of FLOC, you can disable it on any website with a single line of code. Continue reading »

Example of a Spoofed Search Engine Bot

While solving the recent search engine spoofing mystery, I came across two excellent examples of spoofed search engine bots. This article uses the examples to explain how to identify any questionable bots hitting your site. Continue reading »

Best Practices for Error Monitoring

Given my propensity to discuss matters involving error log data (e.g., monitoring malicious behavior, setting up error logs, and creating extensive blacklists), I am often asked about the best way to go about monitoring 404 and other types of server errors. While I consider myself to be a novice in this arena (there are far brighter people with much greater experience), I do spend a lot of time digging through log entries and analyzing data. So, when asked recently about […] Continue reading »

Yahoo! Slurp too Stupid to be a Robot

I really hate bad robots. When a web crawler, spider, bot — or whatever you want to call it — behaves in a way that is contrary to expected and/or accepted protocols, we say that the bot is acting suspiciously, behaving badly, or just acting stupid in general. Unfortunately, there are thousands — if not hundreds of thousands — of nefarious bots violating our sites every minute of the day. For the most part, there are effective methods available enabling […] Continue reading »

Yahoo! Lies about Obeying Robots.txt Directives

There are two possibilities here: Yahoo!’s Slurp crawler is broken or Yahoo! lies about obeying Robots directives. Either case isn’t good. Slurp just can’t seem to keep its nose out of my private business. And, as I’ve discussed before, this happens all the time. Here are the two most recent offenses, as recorded in the log file for my blackhole spider trap: Continue reading »

Yahoo! Once Again Caught Disobeying Robots.txt Rules

Hmmm.. Let’s see here. Google can do it. MSN/Live can do it. Even Ask can do it. So why oh why can’t Yahoo’s grubby Slurp crawler manage to adhere to robots.txt crawl directives? Just when I thought Yahoo! finally figured it out, I discover more Slurp tracks in my Blackhole trap for bad spiders: Continue reading »

Unexplained Crawl Behavior Involving Tagged Query Strings

I need your help! I am losing my mind trying to solve another baffling mystery. For the past three or four months, I have been recording many 404 Errors generated from msnbot, Yahoo-Slurp, and other spider crawls. These errors result from invalid requests for URLs containing query strings such as the following: https://example.com/press/page/2/?tag=spam https://example.com/press/page/3/?tag=code https://example.com/press/page/2/?tag=email https://example.com/press/page/2/?tag=xhtml https://example.com/press/page/4/?tag=notes https://example.com/press/page/2/?tag=flash https://example.com/press/page/2/?tag=links https://example.com/press/page/3/?tag=theme https://example.com/press/page/2/?tag=press Note: For these example URLs, I replaced my domain, perishablepress.com with the generic example.com. Turns out that listing the plain-text […] Continue reading »

Yahoo! Slurp in My Blackhole (Yet Again)

Yup, ‘ol Slurp is at it again, flagrantly disobeying specific robots.txt rules forbidding access to my bad-bot trap, lovingly dubbed the “blackhole.” As many readers know, this is not the first time Yahoo has been caught behaving badly. This time, Yahoo was caught trespassing five different times via three different IPs over the course of four different days. Here is the data recorded in my site’s blackhole log (I know, that sounds terrible): Continue reading »

Yahoo! in my Blackhole

Okay, I realize that the title sounds a bit odd, but nowhere near as odd as my recent discovery of Slurp ignoring explicit robots.txt rules and digging around in my highly specialized bot trap, which I have lovingly dubbed “the blackhole”. What is up with that, Yahoo!? — does your Slurp spider obey robots.txt directives or not? I have never seen Google crawling around that side of town, neither has MSN nor even Ask ventured into the forbidden realms. Has […] Continue reading »

How to Verify the Four Major Search Engines

Keeping track of your access and error logs is a critical component of any serious security strategy. Many times, you will see a recorded entry that looks legitimate, such that it may easily be dismissed as genuine Google fare, only to discover upon closer investigation a fraudulent agent. There are many such cloaked or disguised agents crawling around these days, mimicking various search engines to hide beneath the radar. So it’s always a good idea to implement a procedure for […] Continue reading »

Suspicious Behavior from Yahoo! Slurp Crawler

[ Image: Black and white illustration of the upper half of a man's suspicious, paranoid face ]

Most of the time, when I catch scumbags attempting to spam, scrape, leech, or otherwise hack my site, I stitch up a new voodoo doll and let the cursing begin. No, seriously, I just blacklist the idiots. I don’t need their traffic, and so I don’t even blink while slamming the doors in their faces. Of course, this policy presents a bit of a dilemma when the culprit is one of the four major search engines. Slamming the door on […] Continue reading »

Welcome
Perishable Press is operated by Jeff Starr, a professional web developer and book author with two decades of experience. Here you will find posts about web development, WordPress, security, and more »
.htaccess made easy: Improve site performance and security.
Thoughts
June, July, August historically are slow months on the Web. Perfect time to get some real work done (think projects).
Redesigning Plugin Planet is one the most challenging things I’ve done online. Almost there, about another two weeks ’til launch.
I could listen to Mouse Rat all day.
Thanks Apple for pushing out your massive 3 GB macOS updates because GarageBand. Oh, and Podcasts.
Weird bug with Affinity Designer. If images are opening upside down, click View ▸ Reset Rotation and problem solved.
Had a good laugh today when I saw this in a support email: “In observance of Arbor Day our team will be out of the office on Friday, April 30th.” Lol Arbor Day.
Just spent a few minutes scrolling thru FB, almost every ad was pushing the va×.
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