Cloaking in Google Should be Acceptable for Religious Purposes

Nov 8, 2006 • 11:56 am | comments (4) by twitter Google+ | Filed Under Search Engine Cloaking / IP Delivery

Shimon Sandler wrote a post named Cloaking An Ecommerce Site where he asks, should you be allowed to cloak your e-commerce site for religious purposes. The situation is that some orthodox Jews shut down their web site on the Sabbath. So if you go to a site such as B&H from sundown Friday to darkness of Saturday night, you should get a sign that says they are closed. You will not be able to browse the site, you will not be able to look at product, I believe (but I am not sure) a one page message comes up telling the customer to come back after the Sabbath.

The issue here is that this may impact the site in the search results the rest of the week, and not just on Sabbath. Why? Because Google and other search engines may send a spider to the site and it will be inaccessible for about 25 hours, once per week.

So, Shimon asks, should Google allow you to cloak the site on that day only, by allowing spiders to access the main site, but not allow humans to access the site?

My argument, as I posted in Search Engine Roundtable Forums is;

Well, just like you are allowed special treatment for religious reasons, i.e. you can take standardized tests on sundays instead of saturdays in NY (I think), or you get kosher food on airlines, or you don't have to swear on a bible in court.... Why not special treatment for Google for Religious Reasons?

So should Google allow cloaking for religious reasons?

Forum discussion at Search Engine Roundtable Forums.

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Lea de Groot

11/08/2006 11:10 pm

I would actually suggest that they block the spiders during those hours. From a religious point of view, if they are turning off the site then it should be turned off completely, not just for humans, surely. From an SEO point of view, I think returning a 403 for a short time would be better than returning alternate content. They will already be losing trade form people who won't come back after the sabbath. They are going to have to accept that they will lose more than that. If they turn the site on for the bots then they have turned the site on, and apparently this is not the desired effect. A 403 is more equivalent to sitting a test on a different day. Actually, they wouldn't even need to detect - return a customised 403 'we're closed on the sabbath' to everyone. What code do they return now?


11/09/2006 03:35 pm

I can see the point of not working for 25 hours or so from a religious standpoint...but the www is global 24/7. So if you are in a different part of the world its not sabath yet, so why shutdown your site. The flipside is that if its the Sabath and no working is allowed, right? So you are not working, your computer is. If there is no mechanical work, then how far does it have to go. Would you have to unplug your frig, because that machine is working for you?

E. Fink

09/08/2009 03:45 pm

phil: The problem is doing business on the Sabbath. A non-commercial site can be accessed by others on the Sabbath, B&H does not want to "make money" on the Sabbath, that is why they close the e-commerce part of their site.

John Lake

09/22/2012 05:08 pm

Since the Internet is world wide and there are 24 time zones and sundown occurs in each of them. So to be safe you need to stay closed for 48 hours. Your servers must also be un-plugged so the electric company employees, ISP workers, etc., are not forced to work on Shabbos. Just sayin' Shalom

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