Here is a hilarious look at article spinning at The Passive Voice blog:
First The Passive Guy quotes this from Plagiarism Today: “Article spinning is one of the most talked about and least-understood technologies when it comes to online plagiarism…. Article spinning is a technique to generate seemingly original content from old content by replacing words or phrases with synonyms. For example, if I were to write the sentence “The cat walked into the house” an article spinner might reinterpret that as “The feline strolled into the home” or “The kitty wandered into the shelter.”
Then the hilarity ensues as The Passive Guy tries this out with a few well-known paragraphs, including the beginning of the Declaration of Independence, followed by this gem:
Here are the first few sentences of Jack Kerouac’s On The Road:
I first met Dean not long after my wife and I split up. I had just gotten over a serious illness that I won’t bother to talk about, except that it had something to do with the miserably weary split-up and my feeling that everything was dead. With the coming of Dean Moriarty began the part of my life you could call my life on the road. Before that I’d often dreamed of going West to see the country, always vaguely planning and never taking off. Dean is the perfect guy for the road because he actually was born on the road, when his parents were passing through Salt Lake City in 1926, in a jalopy, on their way to Los Angeles.
And the paraphrase:
I principal met dignitary not long following my wife Furthermore i part up. I needed barely gotten over An not kidding disease that i won’t trouble with banter about, but that it required something to do for the miserably weary split-up and my feeling that All that might have been dead….
It goes on from there, but that’s as far as I got with the paraphrase. Since I only made it through two sentences, I guess that makes the paraphrase literally unreadable, at least for me.
I had not previously been aware of any blog called Plagiarism Today, but I’m glad to have learned something about why spam emails are so very, very badly written. If the spam bots are using article spinning, well, that explains that. Evidently article spinning is less useful for that today, but some students are now trying to use free article spinners to hide plagiarism from Turn It In.
For any student who thinks this would be a fine tool to enhance your plagiarism efforts, I have to say … go right ahead. That will totally work.