While checking the Whois of my domains, a whois for this blog revealed a link from AboutUs.org.
I have mixed feelings about this one.
Here is why:
For those who are not aware, AboutUs.org is a wiki which hopes to capture information of all the domains in the world. I believe this “capturing” is done by a bot which gathers information about the domain from the site, its whois, alexa, technorati and possibly other places.
It seems rather good to have your website on a website whos popularity is rising sharply (the last week Alexa rank is around 4000)
However, doesn’t it also appear to be a breach of privacy, copyrights and more?
Text from you site is scraped by the bot and displayed on the wiki.
Text from my about page has been copied as is. If the text on your site is copyrighted (which is the case of many blogs today), then AboutUs.org directly infringes your copyright!
Your contact information is made public. My email address was publically visible (via a graphic). I also noticed that the entire contact information, including my phone number was visible for another of my sites. They have a page on how to protect your email address, but why does it get listed in the first place?
While many may debate that all this information was anyway available via a simple whois, I am of the opinion that I have willingly submitted my information while registering my domain. I have not submitted the information to AboutUs.org and hence it is not correct for them to display this information publically.
A private domain registration can protect your information, but it comes at an additional cost.
Freely Edittable Information:
AboutUs is a wiki. As a result anybody can edit / delete the information of your website. This means that you will have to continuously track your website details to ensure that nobody has put any false data about your website.
What is even worse is that you can edit the information without even signing up! :O
That means you can use a good proxy server, edit an article and not bother about being tracked for any incorrect changes!
Ray King’s (the man behind AboutUs) User Talk already has a few angry comments, and I am sure these will just increase with time.
What to do about it?
As of now, there isn’t any way to delete your website from the listing.
So, the best thing to do is create an account, login and edit the information of the pages. Remove all contact information that you don’t like.
I also suggest adding your other websites, which aren’t already listed and editting their information.
This will ensure that your contact information doesn’t suddenly turn up because the bot, or someone else decides to add your site.
Do tell me what are your opinions on this issue? Do you agree with the concept of AboutUs.org? Or are you against it? Or do you think we should just not bother?
Update 1: View Ray’s Reply
Update 2: You can now use robots.txt to block the bot (Thanks Daniel)
Add the following code to your robots.txt files. Read more about the AboutUsBot.
Update 3: Rays efforts are being appreciated. View Tazzy and Piggy’s Comments.
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