What is the web space like? This is, of course, the Internet, which provides access to a huge amount of information. An incredible resource and daily helper, it allows you to connect with people from all over the world. However, just like in the real world, there are many negative aspects online, such as harmful content of various kinds, hatred, discrimination, public insults, abusive behavior and much more. Online scraping (cleanup) is the process of combating these negative phenomena and creating a safer and more harmonious online community.
The history of online scraping and its first appearance in action
When creating an online resource, we always take care of its security. We often ask ourselves questions like “How much will additional DDoS protection cost”, or “How to secure my website”. Online Internet cleaning began to develop along with the Internet itself. With the advent of the first online forums and social networks, problems with negative comments, slander and threats began to arise. This has led to the need to implement security and control measures. However, over time, online scraping has become more challenging due to the sheer volume of content and variety of platforms.
If you understand the term web scraping, then at its core it is a kind of extraction of certain data from web resources. The purpose of this extraction is to analyze and collect information using specialized tools. Certain scripts and software are also used to determine the type of content that will harm the online community.
Web scraping has emerged as an effective method for extracting valuable data from the vast expanses of the Internet. As we take a deep dive into the web scraping process, we unravel the complex steps involved in the operation, providing insight into the intricacies that make it easier to extract information from websites hassle-free.
Internet scraping methods
I would like to draw your attention more closely to Internet scraping methods. Moreover, it helps to unravel the complex steps involved in the scraping process. Which directly allows you to seamlessly retrieve information from websites. So, there are the following methods:
Parsing HTML This is one of the most common methods. By analyzing the HTML code of a web page, scrapers can extract relevant information such as headings, text, images and links. As for the improved methods, here you can use such libraries as Beautiful Soup and xml in Python. This makes it possible for developers to navigate through the HTML structure, find specific elements, and extract the data they need.
Using the API. Many web services provide an API that allows you to access data in a structured format. This is a more reliable and efficient way to collect data.
Visual scraping tools. Some tools, such as ParseHub or Octoparse, allow users to create scrapers without extensive programming knowledge.
Sending HTTP requests
It is worth emphasizing and delving into this topic in more detail. The process commences with sending HTTP requests to the specific website of interest. The sequence of events typically unfolds as follows: a user visits a web page, and their web browser initiates an HTTP request to the web server. In return, the server responds by transmitting the HTML content of the page. In the realm of web scraping, specialized tools and libraries replicate this process to systematically extract HTML content.
Furthermore, it’s important to mention that HTTP request headers encompass details regarding the request itself, including the User-Agent (which identifies the browser or program initiating the request), caching preferences, and other metadata. On occasion, to facilitate successful scraping, configuring request headers to emulate typical browser behavior can be beneficial in avoiding server-side restrictions.
In terms of HTTP request methods, there are several worth noting, such as GET (used for retrieving data), POST (employed for sending data to the server), and others. Depending on your specific scraping objectives, different methods can be utilized to retrieve data from a website.
Regarding request processing, the server issues a response that contains the requested data. This data can be presented in various formats, including HTML, XML, JSON, and others. Scrapers commonly scrutinize and process these responses to extract pertinent information.
Combating inappropriate content on the Internet is an important task that contributes to the creation of a safe and harmonious online space. The AlexHost team is also active in this activity, collaborating with organizations such as “La Strada“. We regularly try to update our Acceptable Usage Policy to stay current and combat all types of inappropriate content!