I recently discovered the shocking truth that bots are stealing articles from the Webster Journal. Naturally, I decided on the only logical response: Write an article about it that will inevitably be stolen itself.
On Monday, Oct. 10, I was scrolling through article comments on the Journal website’s dashboard – because that’s what you do when you have no life – and discovered several pingbacks. When other websites embed links to our articles into text like this, WordPress notifies us. However, these articles weren’t being shared. They were being copied and pasted by scam websites – or, to use a colloquialism, “borrowed indefinitely.”
This phenomenon is the result of scrapers, bots that invade websites and search engines for digital content to repost. We only noticed these stolen articles because, in their infinite wisdom, the bots accidentally copied embedded links to the originals. Veteran and new writers from every section fell victim to scrapers; apparently, the bots really liked my critique of dating apps, because it got pingbacks from four unique imposters.
Seeing these bootleg articles was like real-world “can I copy your homework” memes. They differentiated themselves with errors (“Dine and Discuss” became “Dine and Discus”) or awkwardly replaced synonyms (“Students take hands-on learning to new level” became “College students take studying to a brand new stage”). Most notably, my review of “Shovel Knight Dig” was poorly Google Translated into German, resulting in...
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