Block Google Sidewiki Users From Commenting On Your Site

Sep 25, 2009 • 9:05 am | comments (14) by twitter Google+ | Filed Under Other Google Topics

Yesterday, we reported on Google Sidewiki which allows anyone to basically comment on your site, on your site, with the Google Toolbar. Some webmasters are not into this idea and they want to know if there is a way to opt out of this feature. The answer is no, not an official way to opt out, but you can block these users completely.

One Webmaster in Google Webmaster Help explained that you can use a rewrite rule to block people with this toolbar.

Until Google dumps this or provides an opt out, web site owners who'd like to retain control of what appears on their own site can block all Google Toolbar users by adding the following to their htaccess file. The "notoolbar.php" points to a file explaining Google's bad behavior and instructing the visitor to uninstall Google Toolbar in order to proceed. You can create your own file and name it whatever you like, just be sure to change the code below to make it match the file name you've chosen.

Update: See the comments below about this rewrite code.

RewriteEngine On
RewriteRule .* notoolbar.php [L]

Of course, this would block anyone who has the Google Toolbar from getting to your site. Up to you.

Forum discussion at Google Webmaster Help.

Update: I have a new post on how to just block Sidewiki without blocking Google Toolbar users.

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09/25/2009 08:10 pm

Face: Just keep it up, Nose, you are not indispensable. Nose: Go for it. I dare you...


09/26/2009 03:35 am

As per a deeper thread in WMW, the above would cause an infinite loop.. try the code that JDMorgan, resident apache guru recommended.. [quote] If installed in .htaccess, that code will cause an 'infinite' loop, repeatedly rewriting nogtb.php to itself until the server gives up. Fix for use in .htaccess: RewriteEngine on # RewriteCond %{HTTP_USER_AGENT} GoogleToolbar [NC] RewriteCond %{REQUEST_URI} !^/nogtb\.php$ RewriteRule ^ /nogtb.php [L] or in more-compact form RewriteEngine on # RewriteCond %{HTTP_USER_AGENT} GoogleToolbar [NC] RewriteRule !^nogtb\.php$ /nogtb.php [L] [/quote]


09/26/2009 01:43 pm

How to do it for Wordpress based blogs?


09/26/2009 06:04 pm

I tested the code before posting it. There is no feedback loop. It redirects and stops. At least on my server. The UA in the code you posted is not what shows up in my logs. To be safe you can block both 'GTB' and 'GoogleToolbar'. So taking the best of both: RewriteCond %{HTTP_USER_AGENT} GTB [NC,OR] RewriteCond %{HTTP_USER_AGENT} GoogleToolbar [NC] RewriteRule !^nogtb\.php$ /nogtb.php [L] @Jack: adding this to your htaccess will protect your Wordpress site.

James Stein

09/27/2009 01:32 am

The problem with this code is it will block google toolbar users from using your site. People need to aware of this before using the code as it could have a deep impact on their site traffic..


09/27/2009 02:12 pm

The worst thing about that piece of code is that it doesn't makes nay difference from toolbars users with latest version or those who have not updated and therefore know nothing about Sidewiki. You won't be only blocking GTB users, but also many will be dissapointed because they do not even know what's all about. It would be nice to have an option to opt-out from Sidewiki (which is not a wiki because no one can edit it), as we have with the MS image toolbar, but blocking GTB users is way too much, IMHO.


09/27/2009 02:21 pm

OK, just did a quick check: it will still block GTB users, but you can restric it to the latest version just by changing the string check GTB6.

James Stein

09/27/2009 07:06 pm

eltercerhombre - That is why I am working on a actual solution right now to block sidewiki itself and not the google toolbar owners. This is something that google should have never released and should have known better. I think they will find that this is one thing on the internet they will not control, our sites! James


09/28/2009 07:01 am

Completely agree with you James: Google should have never released this. But they did. Now we have only 2 options (let them do is not one): make enough noise so they agree for a opt-out option or find the way to block.


09/28/2009 02:05 pm

I agree that blocking all Toolbar users is too much, but until we can narrow detection to just SideWiki then the only other option is to pay for SSL for each site; SideWiki currently doesn't work on SSL sites. @James - I've tried UA strings, a modified version of AutoBlink and even screen width vs. browser width to detect SideWiki without success. Mind sharing your approach?

James Stein

09/28/2009 11:17 pm

While I can not say what I will be doing, I will say it will not involve any javascript. I have a working version but still need some tweaks and mine will also have an admin area giving the site owner a little more control. I have 12 SSL certs but I have way more than 12 sites and I know many that have more then me so even the SSL route could get expensive and even then google "hints" that they are going to fix that "bug" ... James

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12/04/2009 06:09 am

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12/20/2009 12:13 am

Sidewiki is not popular and it is not going to be very soon but still we should have option to just a warning landing page of the site where we can tell people about the situation.


03/04/2010 10:36 am

Sidewiki - Crabzy - same but less powerfull. I believe Sidewiki is nothing more than what offers Crabzy, and even less because Crabzy offers forum's functionalities, where you can have dialogs, exchanges between users. I'd rather go to, but they both offer great value as this kind of service, if more developped, could really enrich the Web !!!! For everyone's benefit !!!!

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