Everyday you work online our computers demand that you to Prove your humanity before being giving passage to the websites of your desire.
“Prove your humanity” the sites say, before giving us a Grade 2 mathematics equation to solve. (As if they not only doubt we are human beings, they also think we’re uneducated.)
They want us to check a box next to the statement saying “I am not a robot” as if it’s an affidavit.
Or, we are required to pick images that match a word in addition to checking the “I am not a robot” box.
But this effort to demonstrate that we are sentient beings – started by Google in December 2014 with No Captcha ReCaptcha APIs – is not meant to make us question our place in the universe. Nor is it an intelligence test.
Proving our humanity is merely the next evolution of ReCaptcha, meant to weed out the spambots that are now smart enough to read the old scrambled-up symbols and street addresses.
Spambots these days are so sophisticated, they can not only answer a Captcha/ReCaptcha question, they are able to fill out a form perfectly and to the number, a fact that astonished me in a recent site build.
Spambots are like whack-a-mole. You punch one down and another three spring up.
So, what does the Prove your Humanity No Captcha have to do with blogging?
Robo blogger rising
The sad truth is that robo bloggers are becoming more common every day and it’s really the fault of the search engines. Here’s why:
- To sell stuff, marketers have to sell online
- Selling online requires massive traffic to your site
- To get massive traffic, your site needs good search engine rankings
- But, good search rankings go to sites with fresh, high-quality content in the form of blog posts
- And, high-quality content is time consuming and thus expensive to produce (ask any real writer)
Ergo, website owners are under such pressure to post fresh content to keep their rankings up they will resort to purchasing and posting cheap, automated content just to get that traffic.
[Tweet “Website owners under pressure to keep rankings up will post automated content just to get traffic.“]
One SEO friend says he buys perfect length, grammatically vetted, unique posts for $5 each from a vendor in India. SEO Article Generator will produce auto posts for $37 per month. And who hasn’t been offered guest posts that read like a machine churned them out.
The worst part is when you seen an obviously automated post ranking higher that your humanly researched, well-reasoned posts on the same topic.
I also wonder how much the rise of robo posting has to do with the demise of Google Authorship – the search giant’s program to connect authors with their web content – over two years ago. Still, I’m convinced that Google and the other search engines must do more to combat the proliferation of robo bloggers if they want to prevent the web from becoming a repository of machine-generated content.
How do you know a post was written by an automaton?
In the process of humanly researching this post, I found the perfect example of a automated post without a whiff of human creativity. I’d rather show you a condensed screenshot than link to the post which appeared at the bottom of page one of Google.
Automated posting is so infuriating, it makes real bloggers want to give up and go back to that novel they were working on.
How do you prove your humanity in your blog posts?
Google Authorship may be dead but there are ways you can show your readers that your words did not come from a robot.
Post a byline
Tell your readers, right after your headline, that you have a name. Don’t use “Admin”, “Contributor”, the site’s name, or “Guest Poster.” Use your first and last name like real humans do.
Post a Bio
Back up your byline with a short story about yourself: what you write about, who you write for, what other things you enjoy, as well as your social media coordinates, all of which should be consistent. Make sure the bio includes a picture of you.
Throw some of your human self into your post by adding opinions, asides, backstories, self-deprecating humor – anything a robot wouldn’t write. Have style. Show vulnerabilities. And use appropriately casual language geared for your market because one overly formal word can scream machine made.
Lengthen your About page
If a reader wants to know who writes your stuff, give them enough to read on your About page. Too much is way better than not enough. People are verbose, robots are pithy. Brevity is not a good sign of humanity.
Use the Datestamp
Few things in life are evergreen, that is, appropriate at all times. Particularly in topics related to tech, science, and medicine, things change so fast that the information posted one year might be obsolete by the next. A real live blogger will give his readers a context from which to understand a post by giving the date the ideas were published.
Just another way to prove your humanity.
I am not a robot!
Doing all of these things is way better that placing the statement, “I am not a robo blogger” in your footer. Which you could do, but it would look idiotic.
What do you think? Do you post auto-generated stories on your site? Do you ever get sucked in to reading robo-posts and then angry when you realize it? What do you think can be done to stop the robots from taking over the Web?
I would love to know.
If you live in the Vancouver area and want to learn more about Social Media, please come to a Meetup I’m hosting for the BC Travel Writers on September 14, 7pm with social maven, Katt Stearns on Tips on the Best Social Media for Writers and Bloggers.
The Meetup will be held at Big Rock Brewery at 4th Ave and Alberta where you can eat, drink, learn and network. The fee is only $10 so RSVP now!