Saturday, December 4, 2021

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Do you prefer to read about RVing from real RVers or “content creators” who write by formula?

Have you read a travel story online lately and wondered “Has the writer even BEEN to this place?” The answer is likely “No.”

What you are experiencing is the advent of AI (artificial intelligence) content specifically written to drive search engine optimization (SEO) and bring this crap content to the top of search results.

I know that’s a lot of acronyms. To boil it down, it means that a writer is sitting somewhere remotely (likely even in a foreign country) and cranking out travel content for you with the help of a piece of artificial intelligence software designed to include all of the words search engines look for to give the content a better SEO score.

You get duped; they make money

You, the reader, are duped into clicking on the story, and the content creator makes money on the click. If you’re familiar at all with the subject of the travel article, you’ll also likely notice a lot of factual errors that often make the article total nonsense.

In most cases, the “writer/creator” of the article has no connection to the subject or place, has never been there, and wouldn’t know the place if you hit them in the head with a map.

Wait. It gets worse.

The technology behind all of these “deep fake” articles is called GPT-3. That stands for Generative Pre-trained Transformer 3. It’s a language prediction model that uses deep learning by artificial intelligence software to create human-like text. It’s the first technology to pass the Turing Test, which is an actual, real test of a machine’s ability to exhibit intelligent behavior equivalent to, or at least indistinguishable from, a human.

So, much of the time, GPT-3 is good enough to fool most folks. Add a bit of very minor editing by an actual human, and you’ve got yourself free content, generated by computer software, that did nothing but search the internet for poorly researched facts about a place that are likely far from true.

Why does this matter?

Why do we tell you all this? Because we want you to be aware of what you’re looking at when you see that sort of clickbait on the plethora of websites now rushing into the outdoors, camping and RV spaces online.

Sites like Google have no problems with this artificially created content. If the content covers the “right” search terms and makes a passable effort at satisfying a Google search’s intent, Google will shove it right to the top of the search results.

RVtravel.com does not use technological magic tricks

That puts legitimate content sites at a bit of a disadvantage. But we at RVtravel.com promise you that we’ll never, ever stoop to using technological magic tricks to create the content you see. Everything you see on RVtravel.com is created by real people, just like you, who love the RVing lifestyle as much as you do.

So, the next time you see one of these brand-new websites pop up with tons of travel content about places you should go, consider it suspect. Stick with the websites you’ve grown to trust over the years. Our content might not always have the highest SEO score or make it to the top of the Google search results, but you can be sure it’s all true and the authors are all 100% human.

##RVT1022

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Retired Firefighter Tom
1 month ago

I found that typing “RV Parks near …..” will get the first listing as KOA, even though there isn’t a KOA within a hundred miles of the destination! I always go further down and avoid the first half-dozen listings.

John Koenig
1 month ago

I too gave up on Google years ago (but CAN remember when Google did provide a useful service). DuckDuckGo is the search engine I use most of the time these days. I learned YEARS ago to NOT click on links in articles. Clicking just reinforces bad behavior on the part of whatever scammer posted it. If something in an article interests me, I’ll avoid that link by opening a new Tab or Window (or even switch to a different device) and see if I can find legitimate information outside of the questionable post. Scam sites routinely try to have readers click multiple times before they show you what was first promised. If more readers “just said NO, these tactics would fade away. Sadly, a sucker IS born every minute.

Roger Marble
1 month ago

As an actual tire design engineer and RV owner and blog writer, I see this type of writing all too often. When I see a title such as “Best Tire” or “Best TPMS” I can count on never seeing any direct comparison or test data that backs up the author’s opinion. Now I am not saying someone can’t have a tire or TPMS they like, but the word “Best” implies a comparison of all or at least many different products. I also notice that many of these posts do not provide a method of contacting the author so direct questions can be asked. IMO the word “BEST” should be a red-flag of warning.

Bob P
1 month ago
Reply to  Roger Marble

Agree, if you have lived long enough to experience life you can easily pick out the writers who know what they are talking about, or the ones who are composing from advertising literature. I appreciate your info as I believe you know from experience what you’re talking about.

Drew
1 month ago

There is something else that hurts rv professionals. The stealing of expert content by bloggers and other influencers. They change and add to the content to make it sound original but many times it’s false information and opinions. A professional can even copyright their work but if it’s used without permission- enforcing the penalties on these people can be a long and hard road. Next time you read or view material be sure to look at the author’s bio or background.

Diane Mc
1 month ago

I stopped using Google some time ago. Use DuckDuckGo as they don’t track you. However, not sure if they use same algorithms that would give higher priority to GPT-3 generated articles. However, never click on ads. I rarely do links, except from known websites, like RV travel and even then I don’t do ads. If I see something interesting I’ll search it on DuckDuckGo and then I’m selective about which search results I use.

Traveler
1 month ago

RV Travel doesn’t post them? The links to the 50 best_______ on weekday?

Lou FInkle
1 month ago

Although there are ads on RVTRAVEL.COM, those of us who have been RVing for decades can usually identify and add credence to the articles written from familiar names. The Woodbury’s manage well and maintain communication with volunteer writers. On the other hand, that has not been the case with some other blogs, emags and posts in other media.

Dave Helgeson
1 month ago

Mike, Not only travel destinations, but RV info too. Cordless electric heaters, cleaning RV furnace filters, etc.

RallyAce
1 month ago

There are many very good RV bloggers and writers and there are the AI generated blogs and reviews. Just this week I read a glowing review of a product (not RV related) that I know is no longer available as the company that made it went out of business before the pandemic hit. The bad thing is that the AI blogs are getting very good and that is not good for the dedicated and professional writers.

UPRIG
1 month ago

I’m with Cliff…

Bill semion
1 month ago

I am a travel writer. I am an RV owner. I am based in Michigan. I write about travel in an RV and otherwise. I’m Not In Macedonia. I am a member of several writer organizations. I think the writer is off base here about the majority of travel writers. Way off base. If you click on clickbait, you expect crap. That’s what you get. It’s meant to make money per land. The writer casts a wide roll of used toilet paper here, and does it without caring where it lands. That’s too bad. That’s sad. Let’s see some examples, please. Otherwise, you and RV Travel editors had better narrow their parameters, think about what this wide smear of me and others who have been in this business for at least 40 years means, and explain just what he is trying to say.

John Macatee
1 month ago
Reply to  Bill semion

I disagree. This article is right on, and its demonstrated every day on Google covering many subjects. Good for you, but AI articles are now the “norm”. Wake up dude

Greg
1 month ago
Reply to  Bill semion

Bill, you are missing the whole point of the article above

Cliff
1 month ago

Online article, newsletter, information paper, resume, etc. when reading I will allow 10 seconds to catch my attention or two misstatements of fact, two spelling or punctuation errors, whichever comes first and I’m off to something else.

Wayne C
1 month ago
Reply to  Cliff

I can read right through misspellings and punctuation errors and most of the time don’t notice. I’m right with you when it comes misinformation. Any fact that is incorrect puts the entire article and writers credibility in question.

Bill Fisher
1 month ago

Sort of like a lot of RV designers who have never spent even one night in an RV, eh?

tom
1 month ago

Editors, like journalists are a disappearing profession.

Bill semion
1 month ago
Reply to  tom

Sorry. I’m in that profession. The writers and editors of RV travel are in that profession. You’re wrong.

Rich
1 month ago
Reply to  Bill semion

then, unfortunately for the public and our country, you are one of a dying breed. IMO most “journalists” these days just regurgitate press releases or whatever they’re told. no questions…certainly no hard questions and no curiosity. they start with a conclusion and work backwards looking, or all to often creating, support for that conclusion. in many cases it’s a case of lies by omission rather than commission. examples abound every day. without a true, independent and curious press this American experiment will surely fall.

Ray
1 month ago
Reply to  Rich

I agree. Well said. I would add that the conclusion reached will always agree with the ideology of the benefactor.

Mike
1 month ago
Reply to  Rich

Rich…very well said!

Wayne C
1 month ago
Reply to  Bill semion

I’m surprised by how personally you took this article. It doesn’t speak negatively about competent journalism. If you have been in the business 40 years surely you have noticed the decline in journalism standards.

Fred
1 month ago

True, these SEO articles are becoming a serious problem. As a 12 year fulltimer, I subscribe to a lot of rv newsletters, & blogs. I also search out a lot of rv related articles. In the last couple of years I’ve come across an increasing number of articles or comments that obviously were written by someone who has no clue what they’re talking about. In many cases they either so lightly gloss over the subject they’re addressing, or they make so many flat out false statements on the subject, that I shake my head & wonder how an editor of a publication would allow them to write such garbage. These types of articles developed strictly for the “clicks” are a disservice to all rvers, but especially to newbies who are looking for answers on the pros & cons of the rving lifestyle. Rvtrael.com is one of the few sites that doesn’t print these type of artificial articles & I appreciate that.