Outsourced Astroturf Blogging

Via Marginal Revolution, this is either a well-done hoax, or an earnest attempt to start a business selling blog posts which are outsourced to China. In their own words,

Our general business model is a two tiered effort to hire Chinese citizens to write blogs en masse for us at a valued wage. The first tier is to create original blogs. These blogs will pop up in various areas of the net and appear to the unknowing reader to be written by your standard American. Our short term goal for these original blogs is to generate a steady stream of revenue through traditional blog advertising like google adwords. We estimate that our current blogforce of 25 can support around 500 unrelated blogs. Hopefully a few of those will be hits. The long term goal is to generate a large untraceable astroturfing mechanism for launching of various products. When a vendor needs to promote a new product to the internet demographic we will be able to create a believable buzz across hundreds of ‘reputable’ blogs and countless message boards. We can offer a legitimacy to advertisers that doesen’t exist anywhere else.

This is hilarious enough, but there’s lots more comedy gold to be mined from that site. This post, for example (all emphasis mine):

On the blog creation front I have been working hard trying to help Jeff make our product more believable. Our initial results have been a little bit below what we expected. To increase our authenticity we are trying to isolate and remedy problem groups. Our design process centers around 3 general groups. They are:
1. Teenage girls
2. Normal Bloggers (yuppies, moms, average college students)
3. Super Bloggers (bipolars, cynics, liberals, outcasts, super-hip)

The biggest problem spot right now is Group 3. Group 3 is the most difficult to reach through traditional media so it has the potential to be our biggest astroturfing area. To create convincing Group 3 product we need to have extensive faux-archives (to give the illusion of a faithfully updated blog) and we need to drop a lot of obscure pop-culture references. The key to good Group 3 is to spend 80% being negative about certain areas of culture and 15% excessively positive. The last 5% should be used for self-loathing because the blogger likes certain ‘un-hip’ culture. Currently I am trying to isolate some popular music to provide to our bloggers for source material. Right now I have:
Group 3 Music Source Material:
Insult: Coldplay, John Mayer, Neptunes, American Idol-related bands, Good Charlotte
Praise: Neutral Milk Hotel, Handsome Boy Modeling School, The Kleptones, Gwen Stefani

Anyway, regular blog readers for the most part already have the ability to filter out crap and find the quality sites among the millions of existing blogs, so (if this isn’t a joke) I’m not too worried that this will reduce the signal/noise ratio. Besides, they’ve got a long way to go if they’re putting Gwen Stefani in the wrong column. (Or maybe they’ve found a client already…)

6 thoughts on “Outsourced Astroturf Blogging

  1. Lemming

    Wow Gazebo, perhaps not “excessively” positive, but I’m tempted to browse your archives and see how close they hit the mark with their 80/15/5 distribution.
    Congrats, you’re a “Super Blogger!”
    Oops, excuse me, that should have been…
    A Super Blogger is you!

  2. Arcane Gazebo

    My statistics are probably skewed in that regard, since I preferentially post reviews of music that I particularly like. (This isn’t true of other media since I read books and see movies at a slower rate.) On the other hand, if politics can be lumped in with culture there’s plenty of negativity. I assume this is what qualifies liberals and cynics to be “Super Bloggers” in the first place.
    Some self-loathing is definitely due for my having just read a Harry Potter book, but I was planning to deconstruct it as an anti-statist tract instead.

  3. Mason

    Hmmm… Although not a blogger, I seem to fit into several of the Super Blogger stereotypes they identify. And super-hip definitely isn’t one of them…

  4. Lemming

    You know, I always liked the Monkees. (Look! Intentional misspellings were a tool of the man long before 1337 came along. DAMN THE MAN!).
    I seem to remember some cool story about them being complete tools at first, and not even knowing how to play their own insturments. Their pride got the best of them, they took the time to learn how to play, and were actually decent after that.

  5. Mason

    I like some of their songs.
    In terms of monkeys (which are useful for ranking football teams, among other things), the following is a take on monkeys typing Shakespeare that I really like:
    If you have infinitely many rednecks with infinitely many shotguns firing at infinitely many streetsigns with an infinite amount of time to do it, then they’ll eventually produce (in order) the complete works of Shakespeare in braille.

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