An Update on Spam Submissions

This Week In Writing, we talk about spam submissions to The Writing Cooperative and look at some of your thoughts on being called AI.

An Update on Spam Submissions
Photo by Kenny Eliason / Unsplash

Spam submissions seem to be on the rise, and I'm not sure what to do about it.

I consider anything that has nothing to do with writing to be a spam submission to The Writing Cooperative. This week, I've had spam submissions about crypto, life skills, graduate degrees, marketing, and more. I assume the writers of these pieces are trying to piggyback on the publication's large audience. For me, it's just a waste of time.

I typically reject spam submissions and move on. In cases where multiple spam submissions in a row come from the same person, I remove that writer's submission privileges.

With the absolute glut of AI-generated "content" flooding online writing platforms, spam submissions will only get worse. Generated or not, these submissions are time-wasting and pointless.

To date, anyone who requests to write for The Writing Cooperative is approved so long as they can string a sentence together. I don't care what people typically write about since writing advice can come from anywhere. However, I'm starting to rethink this policy.

I know that many other publications review drafts before accepting a writer. While this seems like a much more time-consuming process for the editor, it probably has a much higher chance of weeding out spam submissions. This is the direction I'm leaning, but I'm not sold. Yet.

I want to know what you all think. What would you do in my place? If you manage a publication, how do you combat spam submissions? Let's chat.

Your Thoughts On AI

Last week, I asked if you'd want to know if I thought your writing sounded like generative AI. There were thoughts!

The overwhelming majority of emails and comments aligned with wanting to know. Here's the thing, you all are not the ones trying to pass off poorly written or generated "content" as your own words. If you responded to me, the chances are high that you spend time on your work. Sure, your submission might not meet our standards every time, but I'm willing to bet your writing actually sounds human.

This is probably a broad generalization, and I don't really have a way to prove it, but I'm guessing the people trying to pass off generated "content" as their own are not the ones to engage or spend time reading other people's work. Maybe I'm wrong, but it's a hunch I have.

A few people were advocating for not caring whether writing is generated or, you know, written. One commenter said, "good writing is good writing," and I tend to agree. Trust me, I'm not trying to be an AI detective. It takes enough time as it is to review submissions without adding additional layers to the process. But, when you read the fifth or sixth piece of nonsense in a row, you start to wonder.

I guess what I'm trying to say is if you're going to try and pass off generated AI as your own words, at least put some effort into making it actually sound, you know, like your words.

Updated Guide to Medium

Over the weekend, I updated the free Guide to Medium. It had been about a year since the last update, and Medium has gone through a lot of changes since then. I've included sections on everything from boost nominations to Partner Program expansions.

As a reminder, the guide and everything I do with The Writing Cooperative is supported by readers like you. If you're able, please consider subscribing on my website. Thank you!

Justin Cox Justin Cox

Justin Cox is a donut-loving, word-writing, nonprofit consultant based in Orlando. He also runs The Writing Cooperative on Medium. Come say hello!