Thursday, June 14, 2012

Head spinning

You know, I think I'm pretty Web-savvy, but every once in a while something comes along that's just so freaking crazy that I have trouble believing it's true, and then I find out that it's not only true but that it's been around for ages.

Such is the case for "spinning." No, not the exercise kind of spinning, but online spinning.

Jeremy Duns, a novelist--someone I follow on Twitter, a professional who's made it a priority to root out plagiarists--posted a link to something called The Best Spinner. I'll pause for a moment to let you look at that.

So, spinning lets you take language and tweak it just enough so that you can repost it and not get easily busted for copying. This is an actual practice. I'll now point out this Wikipedia article on the subject. An excerpt (and this is a quote, not a spin):
If the original articles are plagiarized from other websites or if the original article was used without the copyright owner's permission, such copyright infringements may result in the writer facing a legal challenge, while writers producing multiple versions of their own original writing need not worry about such things. ...

Article spinning requires "spintax." Spintax (or spin syntax) is the list of text, sentences, or synonyms that are embedded into an article. The spinning software then substitutes your synonym choices into the article to create new, unique variations of the base article.
Now, you might think that people would be sheepish about admitting they use such software. And you might be right when it comes to the general population, but wrong when it comes to a certain class of online quote-unquote writer. Scroll down the Best Spinner page, and get these recommendations from real (?) users:
I've been using this for the past week and it has saved me both time and money. Before, I had 2 choices; either spend hours writing my own articles or pay someone around $30 to write a single mediocre one for me.
Oh, well, boo hoo hoo. Here's a thought, Paul Fletcher, who appears to be a real person: How about you do something useful with your life instead of being proud of your bullshit?

It has so many great features that I just haven't found elsewhere. I particularly like the 'auto rewrite' feature - it's saved me days of writing copy!
You know what feature I like, Rob Hensen? The Ignore Rob Hensen And Everything He's Ever Written feature. It's built in to my life.
What a time saver - my staff love this tool
Hey, Lou Garcia, did you spin that sentence? Because it really sounds like a euphemism for how your genitals love your genitals but want to cut down on the time spent handling them.
I am a professional writer, specializing in SEO articles. This program has sped up the process so much, that it almost doesn't seem right taking money for the jobs, now.
That's Dr. Joel C. Brothers. SEO stands for search engine optimization--that is, picking words that will stand out to Google and the like. To put it another way (hey, I'm spinning free hand!), Dr. Joel C. Brothers writes words that no one actually wants to read but exist in the netherworld of search engine circle jerks.

And, indeed, that's the common link between everyone quoted on that page--they're all involved in an online reach-around while making the Internet a little less pleasant and useful for the rest of us.

So, spin that, fellas.

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