The study is also termed into many conclusion

« previous post | next post »

Charles Belov was surprised by the featured story in the Health section of his Google News index. It was Chhavi Goel, "Surprising Theory About The Cats Which Make The Scientist Stunned", The News Recorder 12/26/2016:

A theory which make the scientists and major medical team shocked came in front that your cat can also become the reason of bird flu to you. The study came in front about the cats the bird flu virus can also affect a home cat which can be termed as dangerous for everyone. The study is also termed into many conclusion that tells that how strong is a bird flu virus can be.

Charles ponders:

It's bad enough that the syntax and word choices are odd, but why Google should promote this to the top is beyond me. Or am I just having a xenophobic reaction to Indian English (the domain ownership is in New Delhi and the author's name appears Indian)?

Some other samples from the same site:

[link] The reports which had come in front yesterday when the administrative from Iran, Russia, and Turkey had attended a meeting in which the absence of US is come before as many definitions.

[link] The theory had come in front about the health issues around Christmas and about many cases related to this theory before too. The researchers and the medical team also tell about the same and tells that how people’s eating habits may become an issue for the health issues and heart diseases around Christmas. The medical authorities also tell before that having much of fast food and liquor was one of the major issues for the health issues.

[link] In the Ram Slam history, Titans are the most successive team as they take earlier 4 titles now going to look at the 5th title of the season & On the other hand Warriors prior lost 3 final matches & only taken the title in the 2009-10 season now going to look at the 2016-17 title.

[linkResearchers are quite shocked to know that the treatment for any diseases can give massive results as well. This theory had conceptualized many terms in a new manner and hence showed an all-new phase of some studies.

Although I'm no expert, these don't strike me as good (or even competent) examples of Indian English. But this is also not the sort of stuff that bad machine translation puts out — it seems more like English written by someone who doesn't know English very well, and apparently isn't a very good writer even in their native language. ("… was one of the major issues for the health issues …"?)

The News Recorder's Facebook page says that

The News Recorder is a leading online news publication. We landed in the industry with a motive to become largest news provider all across the population.

But despite its professional-looking graphic design and page layout, The News Recorder has some other features that are unexpected in "a leading online news publication":

  • Its stories seem to be written by only a handful of people.
  • There does not seem to be any independent reporting.
  • There are no independent features or op-ed pieces.
  • In most cases, the sources of stories are not indicated, and there are no links to other publications.
  • There is no masthead.
  • There are no advertisements or comments.
  • Its photos are not credited.
  • All of its stories end with the same irrelevant YouTube video (see below) — at least all of 20 or so stories that I checked.

So what's going on? This doesn't seem to be a link farm, because there are no links. Maybe it's a term project for some energetic secondary-school students whose web design skills are far ahead of their journalism chops?

The obligatory screenshot:

The end of that article, showing the ubiquitous YouTube video:

And here's the current Google News listing for the Health section, at least in the version that Google present to me — "Suprising Theory About The Cats" is no longer the featured article, but it still makes the list:


  1. Dick Margulis said,

    December 26, 2016 @ 9:32 am

    See, which I believe accounts for everything you're seeing here.

    [(myl) Not really. I'm familiar with these techniques, but they're useless for SEO unless the resulting site also offers links to content that the site (traditionally known as a "link farm") is aiming to promote.

    I guess it's possible that this is a sort of link-farm-in embryo, where the first step is to establish the site and then the next step is to add the SEO links. There are some obvious things to do to make the site more convincing, like choose random videos rather than the same one every time; but maybe the designers are clever in some ways and not so clever in others.]

  2. Vireya said,

    December 26, 2016 @ 4:09 pm

    The purpose of the whole thing may be to promote that video.

  3. Rubrick said,

    December 26, 2016 @ 5:42 pm

    Typo in the first line: "Google New" for "Google News".

  4. tangent said,

    December 27, 2016 @ 12:51 am

    Why not think it's farming traffic for that irrelevant YouTube video? Makes the simplest hypothesis to me.

    It's interesting that Charles Bellov seems to respond to it more as if Google is a person reading this article and inexplicably liking it, rather than an algorithm playing an oppositional game. "Why Google should be exploited by spammers is beyond me" would be a very different statement.

  5. maidhc said,

    December 27, 2016 @ 3:50 am

    The L1 language of the author seems to have articles. Most of the articles in the quoted text are used correctly. This argues against Indian English, as omission of articles is very common in Hinglish. If anything there are too many articles in this. "The same" is common in Hinglish. However there is only one use. Problems with noun-verb agreement are also common in Hinglish but that's not typical here.

    I wonder if "came in front" is supposed to be "headline"?

    According to what I found online, among Slavic languages Macedonian and Bulgarian have a definite article. I think of this because Macedonia is supposed to be a hotbed of generating fake news. However I don't know enough about Slavic languages to judge further.

    I rather feel that the text may have undergone two or more levels of machine translation, picking up peculiarities from more than one source language on the way. I don't think it was generated by a neural network because the structuring seems relatively human.

    I hope others will weigh in and possibly point out some characteristic structures from some other language.

  6. Ethan said,

    December 27, 2016 @ 12:14 pm

    Could the articles be the result of using a tool designed to rephrase articles in order to avoid plagiarism charges? I would expect English-to-English rewording at the level of phrases to preserve the correct use of articles while mangling continuity at the sentence level.

  7. Rodger C said,

    December 27, 2016 @ 12:57 pm

    I think Ethan is right. These kind of articles contain odd word substitutions which, when you think a moment about them, are pretty obviously due to mechanical (literally?) application of a thesaurus function.

  8. Cervantes said,

    December 27, 2016 @ 1:38 pm

    mechanical (literally?) application of a thesaurus function

    Something you might do to a cockroach?

  9. Brigham said,

    December 27, 2016 @ 11:56 pm

    > Problems with noun-verb agreement are also common in Hinglish but that's not typical here.

    Take a look a that headline again. "Make" is presented in plural agreement with "the cats", while syntactically it should be in agreement with the singular noun "surprising theory".

  10. Chas Belov said,

    December 29, 2016 @ 1:44 pm

    @tangent: I was surprised that the site had a higher Google rank over other sites, which would imply that it already had good SEO. BTW, the spelling of my family name is Belov, although Bellov is more likely to result in the correct pronunciation.

RSS feed for comments on this post