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“FAQ” post for Frequently Asked (and pre-sales) Questions about Blackhole Pro.

How is this plugin different than a firewall?

Blackhole uses its own “smart bot technology” that only blocks bots if they have demonstrated bad behavior. Firewalls typically are “static” and block requests based on a predefined set of patterns. That means that firewalls sometimes block legitimate visitors. Blackhole never blocks regular visitors, and only it blocks bots that disobey your site’s robots.txt rules. So the rate of false positives is close to zero.

Will this block good bots like Google and Bing?

No. Never. All the major search engine bots are whitelisted and will never be blocked. Unless you remove them from the whitelist setting, which is not recommended.

Which WP caching plugins are compatible with Blackhole Pro?

Blackhole Pro is pretty new and not yet tested with all caching plugins and scripts. So it may not be compatible with all of them. Here is a list of known compatible caching plugins and the steps required for full compatibility:

If you are using a caching plugin or script, you can follow these steps:

  • Add the blackhole trigger URL (available via the “Robots Rules” setting) to your caching plugin’s “ignore” list
  • Add the IP(s) of your caching script or load balancer to the Blackhole setting, “Whitelisted IPs”
  • Also check out the whitelist tutorials for more information

If none of those tricks work, it’s recommended to deactivate the plugin. Please test thoroughly (for more info, refer to the “Testing” section in the Blackhole Pro readme.txt).

I think the plugin is blocking Chrome, Firefox, etc.?

Impossible because the plugin never blocks by user agent. It only blocks by IP address. No other criteria are used to block anything.

Does this plugin use any .htaccess?

No, everything is handled via WP API. No .htaccess required.

Is Multisite supported?

Yes, as long as each site on the network has its own license.

What other security plugins do you recommend?

I recently recorded a video tutorial series for Lynda.com on how to secure WordPress sites. That’s a good place to learn more about the best techniques and WP plugins for protecting your site against threats.

How do I add a bot to the Blackhole?

Visit the Bad Bot Log, enter the IP address, and click “Add bot”.

How do I add other bots to the whitelist?

Visit the plugin settings and add to the list. More information about whitelisting bots.

How do I reset the list of blocked bots?

Visit the plugin settings and click the button.

How can I disable the email alerts?

Visit the plugin settings and click the button.

The trigger link is not appearing in the source code of my pages.

In order for the plugin to add the trigger link to your pages, your theme must include the template tag, wp_footer(). This is a recommended tag for all WordPress themes, so your theme should include it. If not, you can either add it yourself or contact the theme developer and ask for help. Here is more information about wp_footer(). Once the footer tag is included, the plugin will be able to add the trigger to your pages.

Is there a standalone or free version of the Blackhole?

Yes. Visit Perishable Press to download a standalone PHP-based version that does not require WordPress. For the free version of the WordPress plugin, check out Blackhole for Bad Bots in the WP Plugin Directory.

Can I manually include the blackhole link?

Yes, you can add the following code anywhere in your theme template:

<?php if (function_exists('blackhole_trigger')) blackhole_trigger(); ?>

Alternately you can add the trigger shortcode to any WP Post or Page:

[blackhole_trigger]

Should whitelisted bots contain exact names, or can I just use partial names?

You can use partial names or full names, depending on how specific you would like to be with blocking. If you look at the default whitelisted bot strings, you will see that they are just portions of the full user agent. So for example you can allow all bots that include the string “whateverbot” by including that string in the whitelist setting.

What about WordPress automatic (hidden) robots.txt?

By default, WordPress will automatically serve a hidden, “virtual” robots.txt file to anything that requests it. Once you add your own “real” robots.txt file, WordPress will stop generating the virtual one. So when it comes to WordPress and robots.txt, real trumps virtual. Blackhole Pro requires that you add some rules to an actual robots.txt file, but it does not create/add any robots rules or the robots.txt file for you. Check out the plugin’s Help tab for more infos.

How do I ask a question about Blackhole Pro?

To ask a question, log in to your account at Plugin Planet and then visit the Support Forum to post a new topic. Alternately, you may send an email via the contact form.