When is English not English? When it's spun. Online article rewriter, article spinner, or paraphrasing tool... All the same, basically. There are many of them available, quite a lot of which for free. In case you don't know what I'm referring to, these tools 'spin an article around' for you.
You want to steal someone else's entire web post and use it in your site, because creating an original 1,000-word article yourself would be too much of hard work. But if you simply copy someone's article and paste it on your webpage, search engine crawlers will spot it as duplicate content. And you'll be penalized for plagiarism. So you paste it on an article spinner first. The tool will paraphrase the article sentence by sentence for you. Now you can copy the newly paraphrased version, paste it on your page and publish it. No one will know where the copied article originates.
It's a Garbage
No one will know where you got the content from, but we'll all know that you stole it from somewhere. Because the expressions in the sentences are peculiar, and they often don't make sense. Take the following sentence, for example;
Social media is not only used by young people. Facebook is very popular among the elderly.
If I have it paraphrased by using the spinning tool, it will become;
Web-based life isn't just utilized by youngsters. Facebook is extremely mainstream among the older.
I mean, English is not my mother language and my English is far from perfect. I make so many grammatical mistakes and talk a lot of rubbish. But I am British and I have many American and Canadian friends. If I read a paragraph that's been automatically paraphrased, I can tell right away that it's a language that we don't use.
When did you last utilize social media? At dusk the previous day?
Really, Don't Use It
In other words, those automatic article spinners are not sophisticated enough to rewrite a perfect sentence just yet. Just like online language translators give some funny results.
So if you think you can get away with using an article from elsewhere, spinning/paraphrasing it and selling it to someone... Well, then you're probably not reading this post, but it really doesn't work. You'd be practically scamming people by doing it. Whoever bought the article from you will be conned, demand their money back and leave bad feedback.
If you're thinking about using paraphrased - unreadable - content on your own website, you're not gaining anything from it, nor the users (if any).
Nobody will be a winner. You'll only be wasting your time using an online article rewriter.
Beware of Spun Content
And similarly, if you are involved in an article exchange (you provide your original article to someone, and they provide theirs to you in return), or purchasing an article... You'd better examine the document that you received by reading it out from top to bottom. I've seen some articles that are partly written manually and partly spun, e.g. alternated by paragraph.
Steal Contents Wisely
Let's face this, the internet is information-saturated, isn't it? Anything can be found online. How to get a job at NASA. How to build your body like Daniel Craig at 50.
If you want to write about say, "How To Stay Positive In Life", you can probably think of a few tips on top of your head, such as;
- Write down your goals.
- Get some exercise daily.
- Hang out with positive people... etc, etc.
But you also know the topic is nothing new. Hundreds of others have already written similar articles, so you want to check what others say to see what you may be missing. You find another article titled "15 Ways To Stay Positive", then perhaps you want to create an article "25 Ways To...", hoping to beat it and all other competitors.
If another website says "Hang out with positive people", then you want to rephrase it into your own words, e.g. "Surround yourself with positive people".
Is that stealing? A lot of information we have in our brain is input via ideas and inspirations from others, directly or indirectly. How we output it - pass the information back to others by your own communication technique - is your originality.
Whereas if you put the same phrase "Hang out with positive people" in an article spinner, it will come out as "Spend time with constructive individuals". What the hell? Would you be happy with that phrase? Is there a point in this? No point, whatsoever.
Use Grammarly and Thesaurus
I really do struggle to carry on writing sometimes. I used to have Grammarly in one tab (Chrome extension) and Thesaurus in another, both of which helped me a lot. Now I use premium version of Grammarly which also offers one-click synonyms list, therefore I no longer need to use Thesaurus.
The free version of Grammarly spots not only spelling mistakes but basic grammatical errors. This is great for non-native English speakers like me. I should have really started using it at the beginning of my blogging career. I'm from Japan, am not good at figuring out "a, the, or neither." I forever agonize over this. Grammarly helps me make the decision. Also silly mistakes such as singular and plural ("Too many sheep in the field eats grass.")
The advanced (premium) version is worth it for me because it analyzes my writing style and sentence structure as I write, and it suggests better words or sentences.
Article writers/spinners make sentences look like a thesaurus is used randomly on every word. Thesaurus is only useful when you feel you need a better word. And you can't keep looking up for every sentence, otherwise you'll never finish writing anything.
I know my vocabulary is limited and I'll never be a good writer, but I just have to write up using my own words. But I often encounter a situation where, I know there's a better word to describe something, but my mind's gone blank. That's when a thesaurus comes in handy for me. As I mentioned earlier, Grammarly gives my synonyms in one click (double-click any word in the document, or type in any word and double click it, it will come up with a list of synonyms.) And I don't believe there's a better way than this to stay natural.
Until Artificial Intelligence becomes more widely available in the near future... But that'll be a whole different story!