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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: 28 March, 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 some 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.

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. 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

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. 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. Implement a "Text Similarity" condition that only triggers a change detection when a certain percentage of the page's content changes.
  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. These variances can lead to false positive notifications if not considered in the monitoring settings.

Potential Solutions:

  1. Ignore text that frequently appears/disappears using the "Conditions/Filters" and "Ignore text rule."

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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