Is Article Spinning a Waste of Time?


“Is Article Spinning a bad idea,” asks a reader.

By article spinning (sometimes known as article cloning) I assume that you’re referring to the practice of reformatting others’ articles in order to create content on your site and avoid penalties for duplicate content by the search engines.

Or perhaps you’re spinning your own article in a dozen ways to disguise the duplicate content.

Though you mention that you plan to do this manually, many use software programs that automatically replace words or phrases in an article with synonyms from some kind of database thesaurus. They also move blocks of content from their original position in an article to another position to make it appear that this is a different article.

Article spinning from others’ article is akin to scraping techniques in which websites pull content off of other websites and put it on their own to attract traffic. Because of massive scraping and repurposing of content, there is a huge amount of useless clutter that shows up in searches. You have, no doubt, gone to webpages that match your keywords, but all you find are a lot of Google AdSense ads and a few random paragraphs that are unhelpful. Yes, they sometimes achieve search results, but they are neither helpful nor relevant.

I don’t know if Google has an official position on article spinning. I do know that they are actively working to disallow scraping sites the ability to earn money using AdSense Ads and that they are trying to help their search clients find relevant material. Article spinning takes what is bad about search and makes it worse.

I oppose article spinning on several grounds.

  • Morally, it is wrong to use someone else’s work for your own benefit without permission or payment. It is stealing, even if it is thinly disguised.
  • Legally, much article spinning is in violation of copyright laws, which protect authors from “derivative” works that are based on their original work.
  • Educationally, writing clear, easy-to-understand articles is difficult enough. But when people replace words for close synonyms, they often distort the precise meaning intended by the author. The ignorant can’t tell the difference, perhaps, but the ignorant are not well-served by articles that are misleading. Switching the order of paragraphs or blocks of material to disguise the source obliterates the logical flow of an article. Computers can’t produce good articles. Neither can amateur re-writers and re-spinners who haven’t studied subjects carefully and precisely. Who is hurt? The reader who is desperately trying to learn.
  • Socially, the common good is impaired as people fill the Internet with scrapings, spinnings, and regurgitations. Knowledge isn’t increased, but hindered, and finding useful material becomes harder and harder.

It is important to note, however, that the line between rewriting an article and mindless article spinning is a fuzzy one. All writers learn from other writers, especially from the work of experts. Writing an article is often a reformulation of others’ ideas in your own unique way for your own unique audience. But honest writers usually indicate their reliance upon others’ insights in various ways.

Yes! By all means study a subject and, once you understand it, write an article about it. That’s article marketing at its best. But don’t take others’ work and just change a few words and paragraph positions. That’s not rewriting, but plagiarism. It makes hash out of what was once a perfectly good meal.

I know that teachers and professors are seeing more and more article spinning submitted to them as original papers. Sleazy students do it to manipulate their grades. After all, the end justifies the means. Sleazy Internet article spinners do it to artificially manipulate search rankings. After all, the end justifies the means.

William, I hope that as you investigate article spinning, you’ll conclude, as I do, that article spinners deserve an “F” on moral, legal, educational, and social grounds.

Dr. Ralph Wilson is an Internet marketing pioneer and author of a dozen books on Internet marketing, including Planning Your Internet Marketing Strategy, Report on Article Marketing, Guide to Search Engine Optimization, the Shopping Cart Report, How to Develop a Landing Page, and others.

What's your opinion?