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Topic: Reduce false positives

A to Z Guide in Reducing False Positive Notifications When Monitoring Websites for Changes

Help Center Reduce false positivesLast updated: 17 May, 2024

False positive notifications can be a significant challenge when monitoring websites for changes. These misleading alerts indicate that a website has changed when, in reality, it has not or the changes are irrelevant for you. Such occurrences can be frustrating, especially for those who monitor numerous websites. False positives can stem from various sources.

1. Choosing the Correct Tracked Element Type

One of the common reasons for false-positive notifications is, in fact, user error. Unfortunately, it can take some time to understand the best tracked element type for your use case. With many choices available, it's easy to make mistakes.

For instance, choosing to track HTML text content can lead to an increased number of false-positive notifications. While the HTML may have changed, the changes might not actually be relevant for you.

When getting started, we recommend tracking the text of the "Full page". This usually provides the best results initially. If some area tends to change frequently, please revisit points 2 to 7 in this guide. Most likely, one of the mentioned points is the cause of these false-positive notifications.

If none of the above works, you most likely want to monitor something more selectively: Use the "Text" tracked element type and use "Visual Selector" the area you wish to monitor. The biggest downside to such monitoring is that if the page changes significantly, the generated selector may no longer exist. Also, there may be problems with visual selector in certain pages.

In an ideal scenario, you would manually write the CSS/XPath selector. Crafting such selectors can be a complex topic unless you have a solid IT background. Tip: You may ask ChatGPT for help in choosing an effective selector for a specific page by pasting a part of HTML of the page that you want to track.

Cookie banners, commonly encountered when visiting websites, can trigger false positive notifications. These banners sometimes appear after the initial page load or after a brief delay.

Potential Solutions:

  1. Activate an action to suppress common cookie banners.

3. Overlay Popups

Overlay popup is an annoying ad or offer that overlays the content and can frequently change. Similar to cookie banners these can sometimes trigger false-positive notifications as these overlays may not show up always.

Potential Solutions:

  1. Activate an action to hide overlay popups.

4. Dynamic Content Pages

Certain websites employ dynamic content loading, where the page structure evolves after the initial load. may mistakenly interpret these dynamic changes as substantial modifications.

Potential Solutions:

  1. Instruct to capture the page's content once it is fully loaded. Consider adding an "Action" to delay the capture after a set time or wait for the presence of specific keywords.

5. Minor inconsequential Updates

Websites frequently undergo minor updates, such as date changes, without substantial alterations to their content. might not effectively differentiate between these significant and insignificant changes.

Potential Solutions:

  1. Utilize an "Action" to replace all dates with a standard identifier like [DATE REMOVED]. This approach prevents changes in dates (e.g., "updated 3 months ago") from triggering change detections.
  2. Add a "Text Similarity" condition that only triggers a change detection when a certain percentage of the page's content changes. Keep in mind that if you set the percentage too high, it may not record change detections until there are huge changes on the website.
  3. Apply filters to ignore all numerical digits on a page. You can also employ additional filters as needed.

6. Appearing/Disappearing Content

Websites may display varying content based on user sessions, location, or frequent appearances and disappearances of elements. This can lead to false positive notifications.

Potential Solutions:

  1. Ignore text that frequently appears/disappears using the "Conditions/Filters" and "Ignore text rule."
  2. If the text appears and disappears very often, you may see a "Commonly appearing/disappearing text lines" shown in page details. You can click on sentences to ignore from triggering notifications.
  3. In some cases, page may not have loaded in full causing. You can add an "Action" to wait for a few more seconds, until specific text or element appears on page before capturing page contents.
  4. Consider deactivating "Intelligent Reconnect" feature (You will find it under Advanced Settings) if page is displayed differently when accessed from different countries.

7. News/Twitter Feeds

Many websites include recent news or Twitter feeds in their sidebars or footers. The dynamic nature of these feeds can contribute to false positive notifications, especially when new tweets or news items are added frequently.

Potential Solutions:

  1. Employ the "Remove Page Element" action to select and eliminate the unwanted page element.
  2. Track "Content Only" when monitoring full-page of the website.
  3. Opt for monitoring specific page areas instead of the entire page ("Text" tracked element type). While this can substantially reduce false positive occurrences, significant content updates on the website may cause selectors to break.

By implementing these strategies and potential solutions, users can significantly reduce the occurrence of false positive notifications when monitoring websites with These tactics ensure that the notifications received accurately reflect important changes while minimizing the frustration and time spent on unnecessary alerts. Staying vigilant and regularly fine-tuning monitoring settings will result in a more efficient and reliable website tracking experience.

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