14 Most Frequently Asked Questions about Web Scraping

6 min readSep 13

Originally published as https://reurl.cc/kaVE29

If you want to obtain fresh web data and turn it into a valuable asset for your business, web scraping is the best way to make scalable data requests more productive. But like the majority of us who lack programming skill sets, you probably have tons of doubts about scraping, like how the process works, what the legal consequences of data abuse are, how I can scrape the data without coding, etc.

Questions about web scraping keep coming in, because web scraping is not a technique as simple as black and white, especially in today’s complex network environment. In this article, let me walk you through the nuts and bolts of web scraping.

1. What is web scraping?

Web scraping has a lot of nicknames, like data scraping, web crawling, and data extraction. This is a technique used to pull data from websites into usable formats or local databases for later analysis or retrieval.

Simply put, the process of web scraping is just the same as how you “copy and paste” stuff into a spreadsheet. Instead of doing it manually, web scraping uses robots to automate the process. Think of it as a computationally reproducible data-collection workflow.

2. Is web scraping legal?

Web scraping itself is not illegal, as it is just a method for collecting data more efficiently. However, since this technique has been widely adopted to retrieve sensitive data without regard to the Terms of Service (ToS) of the target websites, many people might have false impressions about it. This may harm the website owners. According to a report, 2% of online revenues can be lost due to the misuse of content through web scraping.

However, there are still no clear laws regulating web scraping. That is not to say we can fetch any data regardless. All of us need to follow the guidelines and be respectful of the regulations of any website. According to the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), web scraping is permissible to scrape publicly available information. Taking Octoparse as an example, it is a web scraping tool that is…


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