Aug 27, 2013

Article Spinners: The Death of Originality

Imagine that you are a songwriter.  You have a musical phrase running through your head, so you pick up your guitar and start playing with the idea.  You build upon each turn of the melody, instinctively drawn to chords that lend vibrancy and mood to your music.  You have a nice hook, an interesting melody, and a catchy bridge.  You are happy with the result, so you proudly publish your song to the internet.

Two weeks later you find that someone has taken your song, randomly changed your melody and chords, and credited you as the composer.  The song that you so carefully crafted has been broken into random bits that bear little resemblance to your original work.  Such poorly conceived and executed work harms your reputation as a songwriter.

Of course, one can’t randomly change the notes in a musical melody without altering the melody beyond recognition; the result would be so bad that no one would listen to it.  Yet, would-be internet marketers destroy writers work every day with article spinners.

An article spinner is software which analyzes text, finds synonyms for selected words, and then re-writes the article using the synonyms.  The goal of a spinner is to make each variation at least thirty percent different than all others.  Where there are a lot of available synonyms, there can be many variations.   The marketer then posts these variations to directories, blogs, and websites in order to get more “coverage”.  More coverage means more page views; more page views equals more ad revenue, and more money in the pocket of the marketer.  As long as the articles are more than thirty percent different from each other, Google will not penalize them as “duplicate content”, and each spun article has the opportunity to achieve page rank on Google.

Here’s an example of how an article spinner recently re-wrote an article review.  Names have been omitted to protect the innocent:

Here’s the original: 

"Responses to (authors) guest column published in last week’s issue are coming in fast and furious. It seems (author), struck a nerve in both veteran and novice dealers alike with his comments on (subject).

Here’s the spun version:

"Responses to (author’s) bedfellow cavalcade appear in aftermost week's affair are advancing in fast and furious. It seems (author), addled a assumption in both adept and amateur dealers akin with his comments ..."

Wow.  How many variations of the review had to be spun in order to turn “guest column” into “bedfellow cavalcade”?  And what the devil is a “bedfellow cavalcade”?  Would anyone find this variation informative?  Who can even understand it?

Reputable article directories insist that the articles they accept be original and that they be distributed unchanged.  Google and other search engines do their best to provide their users with up-to-date, original content.  But, the open nature of the internet and the ease with which text can be copied leaves all online authors vulnerable to plagiarism.   Aggressive marketers, who are eager to spread their message in order to make a few bucks, regularly steal content.   Once they copy the content, they paste it into an article spinner to satisfy the “originality” requirement.

Originality does not reside in the words on the page; it resides in the thought process of the author.  An author chooses words to evoke in the reader the same thought process experienced by the author when the piece was written. Like a musician choosing notes, an author will toss words around, say them out loud, and re-arrange them.  He will find words that evoke a certain emotion; she will find a turn of phrase that excites the mind.

Change the words on the page, and you change their effect on the mind of the reader.   Article spinners do not create originality; they destroy it.

Creative commons







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