The Wisenut Framejob

    March 15, 2004

Freshly launched new Google contender Wisenut has met with a good deal of preliminary applause: to date, the media buzz has focused on their lean-and-mean, no-frills interface, their huge database (approximately 1.5 billion webpages), and their highly relevant results. What no commentator we are aware of seems to have covered in a critical manner, however, is their peculiar “Sneak-a-Peek” function. When clicked, this opens a textarea like window immediately under the search result displaying the targeted web page.

Is this another caching job like we’ve become used to in the Googleplex? Wisenut says no. Here’s what they replied (very promptly, kudos to their customer support!) to our inquiry:

“[…] this feature does not show a cached version of the website. Instead it opens up the site within the search page eliminating the process of opening up a whole new window. Therefore it serves as a preview button for your convenience. Please do not mistake this as a cached page. The page that is shown through this feature is a live site.”

To make absolutely sure their claim is correct (it wouldn’t have been the first time search engine staff gave out clueless technically erroneous information, after all), we checked it out ourselves and can now confirm their statement: it’s a simple frame calling the referenced webpage. In this respect their are acting very much like their competitors and AskJeeves. With a difference, though: based on JavaScript code, this frame is called from the searcher’s browser. Thus, webmasters will find the searcher’s IP (not Wisenut’s) in their access logs.

Do we like it? It depends. The feature is pretty fast and allows for a decent preview. From the searchers’ standpoint it definitely beats jumping to the target page and back if it isn’t what they had in mind. However, framing third party content without their express permission is a moot practice legally. After all, there are those who would argue that displaying copyrighted content within a different environment (framework, if you’ll excuse the pun) constitutes a violation of copyright, and indeed there have been several court rulings supporting that contention. Legal issues aside, here comes the good news for those webmaster who prefer to display their content unfettered by other people’s frames: a simple generic frame buster script will do the trick. E.g. this one: < >

So Wisenut is not enforcing usage of a proprietary meta tag to prevent caching like Google (which is a bit of a nuisance in its own right); nor does it display dated cached content with broken links and busted JavaScript code. Annoying as it may be to some, at least there’s a fairly easy way out.

It would, however, be a gesture of goodwill and smart PR if Wisenut chose to point out this possibility to those webmasters who prefer to de-frame their content.

Ralph Tegtmeier is the co-founder and principal of GmbH (Belgium), < >,
a company specializing in webmasters software development,
industrial-strength cloaking and search engine positioning

He has been a web marketer since 1994 and is
editor-in-chief of fantomNews, a free newsletter
focusing on search engine optimization, available at:
< >
You can contact him at