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  • Prevent Google from spidering usernames?

    Is it possible to prevent Google from accessing usernames on our vBulletin sites? I'm getting vexed at these overly-paranoid people requesting their accounts be deleted because... GASP... they found their (non-identifying) username on Google. Sheesh, so what, really? One guy even emailed me a week after I deleted his username and complained to me that their username still showed up. Yeah, uh... what am *I* supposed to do about that? I don't sit at Google's controls.

    Anyway, is there any method to address this with an anti-username spidering file or even mod without compromising the rest of the site being available to googlebot? I realize this may be a vbulletin.org matter, but so far have been unable to find anything over there. I will look again.

  • #2
    I'm sorry. But that's so funny. I feel for ya. I really do.

    Do you want the Google bots to scan your site for inclusion in searches via Google? If so, there's really not much you can do. However, you can block them from accessing your forum by including the Google spiders in a file called robots.txt and placing it on your server. (Google robots.txt for examples and where to place the file.) The drawback to that is you no longer appear in Google searches.
    I drank WHAT?! - Socrates

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    • #3
      Originally posted by gettingbetter View Post
      I'm getting vexed at these overly-paranoid people requesting their accounts be deleted because... GASP... they found their (non-identifying) username on Google. Sheesh, so what, really?
      Are they in the witness protection plan?

      I once had a guy make us remove his name and the car he drove from our car club newsletter that was pdf'd on our website. He didn't want anyone to know his name or car he drove. Funny, I goggled his name and found where he works, what conferences he has attended.

      Short of banning google bots, I can't think of anything.
      ...steven
      www.318ti.org (vB3.8) | www.nccbmwcca.org (vB4.2)
      bmwcca.org/forum | m135i.net
      "I tried to clean this up but this thread is beyond redemption." - Steve Machol

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      • #4
        I think a robots.txt can handle the job
        try to add a file with the name robots.txt to your public directory with these contents

        Code:
        User-agent: *
        Disallow: /vb/member.php

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        • #5
          Originally posted by WebCraker View Post
          I think a robots.txt can handle the job
          try to add a file with the name robots.txt to your public directory with these contents

          Code:
          User-agent: *
          Disallow: /vb/member.php
          That isn't going to stop google from picking up usernames anywhere else on the board.

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          • #6
            I think this might be his main point.

            if I search for mrGTB (look what gets listed) from A Small Orange.

            MRGTB. Small Orange. Age Unknown years old. Gender Not Set. Location Unknown ... mrGTB. Last Visitors. MRGTB has no visitors to display. Comments ...
            Take note of the Age, Gender, but more importantly "Location". It's quite frightening really to think you can join a forum and enter some personal details in your profile, totally unaware that soon anybody can see it on the web.

            What if some internet novice got carried away and entered his Name, Age, and Full Address as location?

            What Webcraker said would at least stop Google from getting that personal information from the members profile (I would imagine), and all google would be able to get is the forum username Zack. But if I'm right, you can achieve the same thing by not allowing BOT's to browse the members list. I think!!

            Correct me if I'm wrong.
            Last edited by MRGTB; Tue 2 Jun '09, 2:17am.

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            • #7
              Thanks for all of your answers and insights. It looks as if this functionality is not yet available in vBulletin. Perhaps for a future version this can be implemented somehow.

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              • #8
                I don't foresee this being added, the ammount of work it would take to turn usernames off to guest users would be a considerable ammount of work. You may want to place a warning that any information placed on the forums should be considered public.

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