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Well, This Is a New One

February 18th, 2014
I am used to the idea of splogs—fake blogs which steal content from real blogs so as to generate income from advertising—but today I saw something I had never seen before. Perhaps, in the spirit of “splog” (spam + blog), perhaps you could call what I found a “Spews Site”—Spam + News Site. I was searching for more information about a news story and was running through dozens of syndicated duplicates, when I came across one which was almost the same as the other dupes... but was worded rather ridiculously. I soon realized that I had stumbled onto a site which took syndicated news stories, but presumably to avoid paying the fees, they had a robot script go through and replace every 4th or 5th word with a random synonym from a thesaurus. Since it was done mechanically, a lot of the words come across as somewhat bizarre. Here's an example—real story on the left, and ripped-off version on the right:

Confederate sub made history 150 years ago Monday On a clear, moonlight night 150 years ago, the hand-cranked Confederate submarine H.L. Hunley glided out over glassy seas off South Carolina, sailing into history as the first submarine ever to sink an enemy warship. A century and a half later — and nearly a decade and a half after the sub was raised — just why the Hunley and its eight-man crew never returned is a mystery, albeit one that scientists may be closer to resolving. Monday marks the 150th anniversary of the Feb. 17, 1864, mission in which the Hunley sank the Union ship Housatonic as the Confederates desperately tried to break the Civil War blockade that was strangling Charleston. While the Housatonic sank, so did the Hunley.
Confederate underling done story 150 years ago Monday On a clear, light night 150 years ago, a hand-cranked Confederate submarine H.L. Hunley glided out over slick seas off South Carolina, sailing into story as a initial submarine ever to penetrate an rivalry warship. A century and a half after — and scarcely a decade and a half after a underling was lifted — only because a Hunley and a eight-man organisation never returned is a mystery, despite one that scientists might be closer to resolving. Monday outlines a 150th anniversary of a Feb. 17, 1864, goal in that a Hunley sank a Union boat Housatonic as a Confederates desperately attempted to mangle a Civil War besiege that was slaying Charleston. While a Housatonic sank, so did a Hunley.

Now, to their credit, they link to the original... but it still comes across as pretty shameless.
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  1. Tim
    February 18th, 2014 at 23:41 | #1

    Quite interesting.

    I think what I would like is a very good WWWWWH site.

    In the 3rd grade we had class to teach us how to read the newspaper. The first paragraph of every news article should contain: who, what, where, when, how and why. 90% of the time thats all I want to know or should know before I click into another medium.

    What I’d like to see is a news agrigater in a format very similar to the one used by the New York Times (preferably the one they used prior to the current format which is about a month old) – which the narrow columns with stories only 1 or 2 paragraphs and then link to the mother story or source.

    I know that google news is a good agrigator, and if I’m really pressed for time I go to excite, my old pre-google search engine. But its not just importance of the story, and it’s not just the content, is also the format.

    Maybe someone is already doing this to my satisfaction and I just don’t know about it.

  2. kensensei
    February 20th, 2014 at 12:32 | #2

    The splog version isn’t even English. I stared at the headline trying to figure out its meaning. They may be using synonyms in the splog article, but the meaning gets lost due to erratic syntax. They’ll never pass the TOEFL at this rate…

    –kensensei

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