|Over the years, many techniques have been developed to give people a much needed edge in the online business world. While some techniques are above board and perfectly legitimate, others known sometimes as “black hat” marketing or techniques – are frowned upon. The process of web or data scraping is one those techniques that toes the thin line.
Now, scraping itself certainly isn’t immoral, nor is it a way of cheating to get information. However, there are some in the Internet marketing and business world who feel that scraping is an unsavoury aspect, because it can easily cause markets to become flooded by leading to parity and even plagiarism.
Basically, web scraping is the process of visiting and automatically collecting information from a website via a software program. It can also be done manually by copy-paste procedures, and some feel that allowing a human to do the scraping is far superior to letting an automated program handle it.
People can reason and can quickly figure out which body of text and/or keyword is viable, which information will create a usable statistic, and which pages are even worth the effort. A software program, on the other hand, just collects everything it encounters and thus leaves the scraper at the mercy of either having the program decipher any usable information, or having to read through it all.
Other methods of web scraping include: HTTP programming; DOM parsing; text grepping and expression matching; HTML pages and parsers; and semantic annotation recognizing. And while there are many different ways to scrape, each method is working toward the same result: retrieving and compiling data from websites in order to compete.
If you wanted to look around and run a quick search on software programs to do this for you, then you could probably find a few scraping programs out there available for download. In fact, there are many automated programs out there designed for the Internet niche, all of which help to compile data in some form or fashion.
Whether or not it’s still fashionable is another story entirely; and truthfully, its either-or for most individuals who know about the technique. Some still use it to compile data and consider it part of a data mining process and just good business, others see it as a damaging technique altogether and choose to avoid it.
When it comes to something you may or may not use, there’s certainly a moralist way to view the whole deal. If you’re only looking to extract data from your competition to spot any trends and are working to compete within your market, then finding out what your competitors are doing is a smart move. Scraping can help with this.
On the other hand, if you’re going to pull bits of text from peoples sites and use the best keywords and phrases for yourself, then you should seriously reconsider. This is illegal, immoral and will certainly result in having your websites banned.