As part of our Collectif, in which we feature the work of our partners (see more here), the team from Glide Publishing Platform explain how media companies can keep unwanted bots at bay by using the robots.txt file to instruct AI crawlers that they aren’t allowed to scrape your content.
With the emergence of sophisticated AI technologies such as OpenAI’s ChatGPT and Google’s Bard, assisted by various web crawlers, the internet is awash with automated agents that engage in hoovering up your content.
While these bots can be innovative and beneficial, GenAI’s “take and ask for permission later” approach should be nipped in the bud. This article provides a guide on how to block ChatGPT and other AI crawlers from accessing a website.
Understanding the Bots
Before moving towards blocking strategies, it is important to understand how AI bots and crawlers work and how to identify them.
Bots like ChatGPT may interact with web content through APIs or web scraping, while other generic web crawlers scan websites to index them for search engines or data retrieval purposes. Identifying them typically involves analysing user agent strings, IP addresses, or behavioural patterns.
Here we look mostly at a robots.txt which will signal to the crawlers to skip your website. No playing dumb if they don’t!
How to block GenAI crawlers using Robots.txt
A robots.txt file instructs bots on how they should interact with the website. To block all bots or specific ones from accessing your entire site or specific sections, modify the robots.txt file.
A current selection of bots to block is as follows (please let us know of any additions via Contact Us page!):
* Wayback machine bonus ban
UPDATE: It looks like the blocker for Google’s AI, Google-Extended, does NOT stop the new Google Search Generative Experience from scanning your content. The only way to fully block it is to go nuclear and fully block Google crawlers from your site – which means no search juice.
Decisions decisions… or something the competition authorities should look at.
The above article first appeared on the Glide Publishing Platform blog and is re-published with kind permission. Glide is a content management platform for publishers and media companies with high output of content which allows them to focus on creating more and better content and on increasing revenues.