February 26, 2006

Language Log has the story

Over the past few months, I've been watching with amusement -- tinged with dismay -- as various splogs pick up fragments of Language Log posts, either directly or from quotations and references elsewhere on the web. Many of these use a paragraph-collage technique that must be harder for search engines to detect and reject than the random word salad technique in the "en language log splitter" quote that Ben Zimmer gave.

For example, on May 28, 2005, Geoff Pullum posted a funny story under the title: "Gone to get pants: a handwriting recognition story". The (genuine, non-splog) Mirabilis.ca immediately picked this up under the title Gone to get pants:

A certain driver ought to follow up on those handwriting improvement tips. Language Log has the story: Gone to get pants.

Since then, the mirabilis.ca item has been reprinted, along with its title, in a number of pants-themed splogs (which seem to be oriented, in the end, towards improving the page rank of some porn sites). These splogs included "Helpful Tight Pants Blogs", "Our Pants Info", "Internet Plastic Pants Articles", and so on. These particular splogs seem to specialize in finding whole posts about pants and then concatenating them -- thus the post at "Our pants info" amalgamated the "Language Log has the story" with a half-dozen other pants-related fragments, e.g. this mutated item taken from a Joe Lavin column:

There Are Tiny Robots in My PantsDon't worry. That's not some strange pickup line. It's the truth. My new pants from The Gap contain special stain-resistant particles. Yes, somewhere on a molecular level, these nano-particles are working hard to get mandy bright whatever I happen to spill on them. I always suspected there was something exciting happening in my pants, and now I have proof. [where "mandy bright" has been substituted for "rid of", and links to another collage-splog whose theme is people and places named "Lynn".]

Then a non-clothing splog called "Our best used car resources" picked the same fragment up in a dissociated form:

Gone directly from pants
A certain Advances to follow up on those {link25} Poulter tips. Language Log has the Pants Gone to get pants....

Posted by Mark Liberman at February 26, 2006 05:22 PM