In just a few more hours, the internet will be officially on strike in demonstration of the resistance being put forth versus the SOPA bill currently trying to be pushed in the States. There are a great number of sites ‘going dark’ in support of the event, with the idea that it will give web users an indication as to what the web may be like, should this bill, or any like it, come to pass.
Some popular web destinations like Reddit which bills itself as the front page of the internet, Facebook, Wikipedia, Tucows and even Google are gearing up to participate in tomorrows black out. There is some very strong language circulating where SOPA is concerned, going so far as to even name the bill an attack on free speech on the web. Those who support the bill being passed are deeming the blackout as a knee jerk reaction, trying to emphasize the bill in a bad light, the documents are out there for you to make your own decision.
Google has come along with a handy dandy guide as well, to assist with going dark in support of tomorrows events, which also come in handy should you need some downtime to work on your website. The advice comes in the form of enabling a 503 header return for your website which is your way to tell web spiders to come back later, your site is currently unavailable. This handy implementation will work should you decide to be part of tomorrows protest and come in handy should you need to work on your site in an emergency.
It’s fairly easy to return the 503 instruction for bots, especially if you have root access on your server. Adding the following line to your .htaccess file can take care of it for you:
RewriteRule .* /path/to/file/myerror503page.php
just adjust the instruction in accordance to your webserver. What this will do, is redirect visitors to your site to the error page for you, as well as taking care of any spiders poking around so as not to thwart any search engine optimization efforts you’ve been working on for your site.