Ad agency zombifies TUAW with AI copy & recycled bylines in stupid SEO play

in General Discussion edited July 10

The Unofficial Apple Weblog is back, but ad agency Web Orange has turned it into a nightmare plagiarism farm with AI-generated copy, and worse, stolen bylines from writers long since moved on.

The Unofficial Apple Weblog

After the dot-com bubble in 2000, there seemed to be a website for everything despite the internet being relatively small as compared to today's corporate-driven market. Beyond enthusiasts hanging their shingle out on the Web, some websites emerged under larger finance groups, like Weblogs backed by Mark Cuban in 2003.

The Unofficial Apple Weblog (TUAW) started under Weblogs Inc. in 2004 and was one of the more popular properties under that umbrella. Recently, the gutted corpse of TUAW has been purchased, minus archived content, by an ad agency called Web Orange.

They then obviously promptly scraped other sites to populate it with content. A quick perusal has some clear hallucinations, and some verbatim turns of phrase stolen from us by the AI scraper, and all the other Apple-centric sites.

That's pretty bad. It gets worse, though.

Many of today's technology reporting greats got their start at TUAW and still work hard in the sector, like Christina Warren and Scott McNulty. We've had a TUAW vet work for us now and again too.

And, maybe you recognize this name.

This is not AppleInsider's William Galllager
This is not AppleInsider's William Gallagher

And now, Hong Kong-based Web Orange is using their names -- and our own William Gallagher's -- attached to that AI-summarized content in a sick SEO play, after purchasing the TUAW domain.

So someone bought the TUAW domain, populated it with AI-generated slop, and then reused my name from a job I had when I was 21 years old to try to pull some SEO scam that won't even work in 2024 because Google changed its algo. Assholes! H/t @gruber

-- Christina Warren (@film_girl)

The bylines are filled with familiar names, but their photos and bios are AI-generated. The SEO strength of the writer's names might have helped this travesty of a website if Google hadn't already ruined SEO with its own AI play.

This is more in our backyard than Google's thefts, though. And, we hate what Web Orange has done to a once-great site.

TUAW, Weblogs, and AOL

Weblogs Inc. also had a number of blogs you may know, like Engadget, Autoblog, and TUAW. After being bought by AOL in 2005, these smaller blogs were tossed from one parent company to the next until it landed under Verizon, then sold again to a private equity firm.

The web media landscape has been in flux for well over a decade, and most Apple enthusiast websites have died off or had to change their financial strategy. The empty domains left behind, often owned by some larger company, are SEO goldmines if abused by the right, or wrong, entity.

While AppleInsider has managed to survive through the tumult of the last 27 years, we'd be horrified to learn our bylines and site was used this way in some future where we didn't exist. Some of our staff came from MacNN and we are horrified by the idea of being replaced by gross AI bylines.

There isn't much we can do about the AI rewriting of content hosted elsewhere and zombification of TUAW. All we can do is point it out.

And, do what we do. Find the real people behind your favorite work and support them.

Don't support this disgusting attempt at stealing journalistic integrity and the content -- and identities -- of others through AI grift.

The TUAW about us page claims that "our mission has been rejuvenated to continue providing Apple enthusiasts and tech professionals with authoritative and engaging content." What they relaunched is so distant from that promise, it might as well be on the outer edge of the solar system.

Maybe they'll recover. Given how they re-started a trusted and venerable property, though, we doubt it.

Read on AppleInsider


  • Reply 1 of 11
    hmurchisonhmurchison Posts: 12,435member
    Animals.  I miss TUAW
  • Reply 2 of 11
    So you could say, scummy ad company attempts to hawk TUAW. 
  • Reply 3 of 11
    timpetustimpetus Posts: 44member
    ericesque said:
    So you could say, scummy ad company attempts to hawk TUAW. 
    Brilliant. Bravo, sir.
  • Reply 4 of 11
    Speaking of long ago Apple-centric websites that disappeared, what ever happened to As The Apple Turns? All I remember is it stopped updating and then became unreachable. 
    edited July 9 watto_cobra
  • Reply 5 of 11
    I was a writer, podcaster, and editor at TUAW between 2007 and the demise of the site in 2015 when the folks at AOL decided we weren't "big enough". After TUAW, I developed Apple World Today, which is now in the very capable hands of longtime Apple blogger Dennis Sellers. Me? I've had enough fun, and I'm now retired. 

    About two weeks ago, I received a letter from a company wanting to know if I was interested in purchasing the domain name... which I'm not. Seeing this debacle going on, I am really happy that I didn't take 'em up on the offer.

    Steve Sande

  • Reply 6 of 11
    flydogflydog Posts: 1,132member
    And they're thanking AppleInsider for spreading awareness of their new website. 
  • Reply 7 of 11
    Mike WuertheleMike Wuerthele Posts: 6,899administrator
    flydog said:
    And they're thanking AppleInsider for spreading awareness of their new website. 
    You'll note a lack of outbound links.
  • Reply 8 of 11
    chasmchasm Posts: 3,427member
    This makes me so angry. The legacy of fondly-remembered TUAW is being destroyed by end-stage capitalists. Please, please boycott TUAW and spread the word of what these scumbags did.
  • Reply 9 of 11
    radarthekatradarthekat Posts: 3,878moderator
    There aught to be a law.  And its name should be plagiarism. 
  • Reply 10 of 11
    Well, apparently they didn’t like the email I sent them, because now Apple World Today has been hacked and is currently showing an WordPress “under construction” page. These people are ruthless. 

  • Reply 11 of 11
    blastdoorblastdoor Posts: 3,434member
    Maybe I m being naive but I can’t imagine legit sites would lose eyeballs to these clowns. And to the limited extent eyeballs are lost, they’re likely attached to some of the least valuable consumers from an advertiser’s perspective. 
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