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I, Robot Part 1

Robot is a generic term for those sometimes helpful, sometimes pesky, programs that index Web pages across the Internet to feed the databases of search engines and other indexing sites. They're also sometimes known as spiders, crawlers, or bots. And while it's often a good thing that they crawl through your Web site, gathering the information to help other Netizens find you on the Web, there may be certain pages you don't want visiting robots to access at all. Most major robots respect a file called robots.txt, which you can place in the root of your Web site. This file gives instructions to robots about which pages or directories they're allowed to index. The file format is self-explanatory, so let's look at an example:

# Robots must obey the following:

User-agent: * # The wildcard means ALL robots
Disallow: /test.asp # Do not index this particular page
Disallow: /administrative # This directory is off-limits!
Disallow: /jaf/test.asp # Don't index this page, but the rest
  # of the directory is OK

This robots.txt illustrates the possible scenarios of disallowing entire directories as well as individual files. The pound sign (#) introduces a UNIX-style comment. Be aware that not all robots will honor this file, particularly the spiders on small or personal sites, but this approach will allow you to protect your pages and directories against major exposure.

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