Are Article Spinners Ethical?

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Picuture of a spider's web
Spinning a web of deceit

No, not really. I can’t think of a legitimate use for them. Worse yet, they have an annoying habit of turning your well-turned phrases into word salad. In short, they have issues. Let’s take a closer look.

How Spinners Work

Article spinners are synonym machines. You start with an article – either your own writing or “borrowed” from somebody else. The typical spinner maintains a master thesaurus which you can apply either on a word-by-word basis or to the entire article. Some programs continually update their synonym lists by user choices and additions, resulting in longer lists. If you want to closely control the process, you tab from one word to the next, and select the synonyms you find acceptable. If you are making just a single spun article, you can replace the original text with the chosen synonym as you go. More likely, you want two or more clones, so the spinner will encode your choices in one of several formats.

For instance, if you want five spun 400-word articles that start with “Merrily we roll along”, you might be given synonyms for “merrily” that are recorded as “{Happily|Gladly|Contentedly|Fortunately|Its good to know} we roll along”. Each variant is used in one of the spun articles, unless you override any of the choices or supply your own. So for this one word, you would need to remove the last two choices and then make up two of you own, say “Joyfully” and “Gleefully”. You’ve done all of this, and congratulations – you’ve handled the first word. Only 399 more to go!

After several brutal hours, you may indeed have five cloned articles. Now you toss them into Copyscape at a nickel a pop to make sure they are indeed unique. If not, go back and do it some more.

Well, I suppose there is no quick way to make five literate clones from an original. The automatic generators that create entire spun article all at once unfailingly produce gibberish. You have to go through the results line by line and return the material back to English. Ugh!

At $50 to $150 per one-year license, we are not impressed. Free synonym finders such as WordWeb are more cost-effective; you simply do one clone at a time, one word at a time. Maybe someday there will be a faster way using neural nets or some other technology, but we aren’t there yet.

Why Spin?

In a word: links. You clone out your blogs to article services like, making sure you have included a backlink to your website somewhere in the article. Voila, a splash of link juice for you. Supposedly, Google and its brethren will count all your links, be impressed, and rank you on page one of the SERP. In other words, you have to think Google is stupid enough to fall for this strategy. Hmm, let’s see, last time I checked, they looked pretty smart to me. Do you think it’s possible they know this game and discount links from article services? Just sayin’.

Oh, I should mention the other nefarious reason for spinning: plagiarism. You may be shocked, SHOCKED that such things go on, but unfortunately they do. Spinning helps conceal the deed from the Copyscape police, but you will still have to live with yourself.

Don’t Do It

Don’t spin. You are, at best, trying to trick the smartest guy in the room with some black hat SEO. Better that you put your energy into writing more high-quality blogs – isn’t that why you became a freelance writer? Search engines love original content, so give it to them. It’s better for the soul to write something original than to spend a day making five inferior copies.

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Copyright 2011 Eric Bank, Freelance Writer

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