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How to write stuff on the web that won't upset the 'bots


If you write on the web, you have two audiences, human beings and robots. In fact, even if no human beings ever read your stuff, rest assured that the robots do.

They're called 'bots, by the way, and they automatically scour the internet tirelessly 24/7. They're just programs written to search out bad stuff, and it all started with the invention of the internet, in the '90s, which got out of control just about right away.

Contrary to popular belief, there's no one out there reading everything that's posted on the internet. They couldn't do it in the '90s, and they sure can't do it now. And there aren't teams of people reading every comment you make on Facebook, or going through your blog posts. There just aren't enough eyes in the world for that, and besides it would be way too boring for humans. So robots do it. And if you understand that, you can be more comfortable in cyberspace.

The 'bots rely on programming that they get from real people. And it's very simple - the bots are told to watch out for certain words, and also to see if something repeats exactly the same way in multiple places (that's how most spam works). They check to see if someone is posting too much, or too little. And no matter how sophisticated the programming is, it's simplistic compared with how humans think. So the bots are pretty dumb. If I mention dachshunds here, for instance humans know that this post isn't about dachshunds. But the 'bots think that it's about dachshunds. If I keep repeating dachshunds, the 'bots become more and more convinced. But humans aren't so stupid, and literal. No, this post isn't about dachshunds. Now I'm just teasing the 'bots, who will probably index this post as dachshunds.

If you want to write for the 'bots, think of the most literal-minded person you know. You know the type of person, who can't quite understand that you're using a rock to show how a seed works. Imagine this rock is a seed... But it's a rock! But just imagine that it's a seed! 'Bots can't do that - to them it's a rock. So if you do comparisons, the bots can get confused. And some people, too! So avoid analogies, and smilies. Yeah, I'm crazy like a fox! I've just confused the 'bots now, because they thought that this post was about dachshunds, and now they think it's about foxes.

I'm an old teacher, and I know that no matter how careful you are, there will always be someone who will misunderstand what you're talking about, and the 'bots are easily confused. The 'bots have gotten mixed up about me a couple of times, but luckily on Google there are real people whom you can explain to. And I learned to not include any words like, well, you know what, that would upset the 'bots.

I hope this helps. And this has not been a post about dachshunds, or foxes, in spite of what the 'bots may think.