Web-Scraping and Its Uses

By Noah S
Age 16
San Mateo, CA

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Web-scraping is exactly what it sounds like. Scraping the web for specific stuff, determined by the engineer. For example, instead of copy and pasting every book on a library website into a spreadsheet, a web-scraper can programmatically find every book title and paste it into an arraylist. The engineer then can take this arraylist and turn it into a spreadsheet. The result is the same, but without human errors and a lot of time saved. As a result, web-scraping has many, many uses. For example, one could make a list of dog species, find a specific link that is hard to find within a large website, or even generate the upcoming release date of a new Star Wars movie. There is one big roadblock, however. Scraping google, along with many websites, is considered illegal since it violates the terms of service that most companies enforce. Afterall, you are stealing data from companies, which may have spent lots of money acquiring. There are few ways of getting around this issue, but the best way to not get in trouble is to never release the information or use it to churn a profit. After all, why would a company be angry at an individual for making a list of cat videos?

To conclude, web-scraping is a very versatile option for both lazy and efficient people to get ahold of lots of data without having to individually look up every single option and click every single link. It can be written in many languages, specifically Object Oriented Programming languages (like Java and python), making it a skill many programmers can understand. While there are some roadblocks, if the user is fairly smart with their use of web-scraping, it should result with lots of data obtained and even more time saved.