Should You Let ChatGPT Bots into Your Website?

Online traffic is essential to keeping your website relevant to search engines. But today, there’s a new factor to consider: AI. After OpenAI released ChatGPT, its usage became an important question. Now, its newest feature, GPTBot, raises more concerns about its online presence.

GPTBot is a web crawler that traverses the Internet in search of knowledge. This information further feeds ChatGPT’s ability to manifest AI-generated answers to questions and prompts by providing it with relevant information. While it improves the quality of AI responses, it opens the debate once again about whether or not it’s doing more harm than good.

Let’s review some of the valid points on whether or not you should block GPTBot from your website.


Blocking Web Crawlers

One significant point for blocking is the “fair use” of website content. With GPTBot, the collected content is usually summarized and provided to the user using website content. While this seems minor, many website owners argue that GPTBot takes their carefully cultivated content, condenses it, and serves it up with no compensation. In other words, the web crawler steals web traffic to their sites, stopping ad revenue.

This can be a severe concern for content creators and web designers as they work tirelessly to perfect their content. Meanwhile, a program can simply waltz in and appropriate the content as training data. Granted, GPTBot provides sources with all its information, but if the user is satisfied, they’re likely to not do any further research.


Not Blocking Web Crawlers

Blocking a web crawler, whether it be OpenAI’s, Google’s, or Bing’s, can be simple, but also ineffective. While it’s a simple matter of using robots.txt meta tags, AI web crawlers are always improving. In some cases, all it would take is for a crawler to ignore any directives blocking it or hide its true identity as a bot. Even the meta tags that can be put in place don’t always work. More and more, the effort alone to block these bots becomes pointless.

Another point to consider is the purpose of your website in the first place. Some website owners don’t seem to mind AI’s use of their content. For them, their content is meant to be free and accessible to everyone. This means that going through all of these steps to gate content can defeat the purpose of it to begin with. Finally, most online content has already been crawled and stored in datasets like C4 and Open Data, so it’s probably too late for most preexisting sites.


Our Stance on Web Crawlers

XTX Creative always likes to stay on top of the most current advancements in web design. Our team has settled on a wait-and-see approach to GPTBot and its effect on the industry. However, if our clients request that we block these web crawlers from their sites, then we have no issue in doing so. Only time will tell what GPTBot will do to change the climate of web design.