The process of irritation by imitation

span copywriting
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Anyone that runs a website knows how irritating spam can be. Since the early days of just posting links, the systems that spammers use have gotten increasingly sophisticated, aiming to imitate human speech (or writing) as closely as they can.

Without having to write the actual garbage themselves, of course.

I spoke to a client recently who said he would employ people at $5 an hour to post messages for him. What he didn’t realise is that even that job has been automated. You now buy  a script and let the system do the posting for you.

An unwitting spammer just sent me the source code, which makes for odd reading. As you’ll quickly see, the idea is to use variables to change words in different places so it sounds like someone was emitting a rational thought. Fat chance.

Anyway, here’s what I just received:

{I have|I've} been {surfing|browsing} online more than {three|3|2|4} hours today, yet I never found any interesting article like yours. {It's|It 
is} pretty worth enough for me. {In my opinion|Personally|In my view}, if all {webmasters|site owners|website owners|web 
owners} and bloggers made good content as you did, the {internet|net|web} will be {much more|a lot more} useful than ever before.
I {couldn't|could not} {resist|refrain from} commenting. {Very well|Perfectly|Well|Exceptionally well} written!|
{I will|I'll} {right away|immediately} {take hold of|grab|clutch|grasp|seize|snatch} your {rss|rss 
feed} as I {can not|can't} {in finding|find|to find} your {email|e-mail} subscription {link|hyperlink} or {newsletter|e-newsletter} service. Do {you have|you've} any?

{Please|Kindly} {allow|permit|let} me {realize|recognize|understand|recognise|know} {so that|in order that} I {may just|may|could} subscribe.

From spam to content

What many people don’t realise is this same principle is used to generate massive amounts of “content” on the web. Take an existing article and ask the software to randomize some of the verbs and hey presto! Instant articles. You can spit out a dozen sites in a day like that, each with keywords and links.

Sad? Not really. It’s a numbers game. Few humans will actually read the sites in question. Their only purpose is to create links that seem credible to machines.

As this piece is guaranteed to be an instant spam magnet, I won’t open comments on it. Sorry.

UPDATE: Since writing this article, the whole issue of generated content has exploded of course. Check this article for more.

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