A Capy-bot-a Website

There aren’t many capybara websites so I was intrigued when Capybara Tips kept popping up in my Google Alerts. The site looks normal but the articles are a mashup of facts and misinformation. There are no links to back up any of the information. There is no credible human authenticity, and the promising contact links are dead ends. Is this a bot creation?

I became even more curious when one of Melanie Typaldos’s photos appeared with a Capybara Tips article. She verified that it was unauthorized use of her photo, stolen right out of her website, presumably with the watermark scrubbed. I became alarmed when an adoption article described how to hunt for one in the wild!

Photo credit: Melanie Typaldos, used with permission

Unable to determine the identity of the writer or owner of the website, I contacted a friend who is described as an expert on silly websites. This type of website is quite common, apparently.

“They just bought a theme and added some blog posts so that they could try to make money from a minimally used search term. I mean there isn’t much competition in the space, so they probably thought they could throw together a website fast, add some ads, and call it a day. You can find someone that can write without research for cheap. Also, sometimes, they just re-post the same blog with a new date. Lots of ways they can set it all up for inexpensive. I can say overall that it’s clear from the as-is WordPress theme and the number of ads that someone put it all together to make money.”

Photo credit: Melanie Typaldos, used with permission

So there you have it. It’s not a true bot, at all. It’s a commercially manufactured site that looks and reads like a bot, truncated sentences and all. Capybara Tips is a free WordPress site, a lot like this one, actually, except that their motive is to make money. My motive is to educate people about capybaras. WordPress sprinkles some ads around my free website, but it isn’t as obnoxious as the advertising circus at the Capybara Tips site.

There’s nothing inherently wrong with writing for a capybara website with the general topic of Capybara Tips: What Tips all New Capybara Owners Must Know. My concern is that some valid information is laced with some very misleading, and even dangerous, information. Some of it might be copy-and-paste from another capybara website, but there are precious few out there: Mine, Melanie’s, and one other (also misleading) site if it’s still up. So far, neither Melanie nor I recognize any content from our sites. If the writer is sincere about providing accurate, verifiable information, the Capybara Tips website is troubling.

Take a look at Capybara Tips for yourself, and when you find misinformation, post it in the comments below. Copy and paste it for everyone to see. I’ll start you out: see if you can find the reference to Green Capybaras hailing “from southern and northern America.” Another fun game is to count Melanie’s photos. The ones I found are posted here, but are there more? (These photos are screenshots from the Capybara Tips website.)

Photo credit: Melanie Typaldos, used with permission

Let’s not help the Capybara Tips website get a “trust credit.” If I link to this person, it will actually help their website show up higher on Google searches by lending them my sterling credibility. Therefore, the only link I will post here is an “unfollow” link. You can safely check out the Capybara Tips website from the link in this sentence.

Did you notice how often I used the phrase “Capybara Tips” in this post? It’s everywhere. That’s because the Capybara Tips website has much better SEO (Search Engine Optimization) than my website. SEO  is what causes popular websites to show up at the top of Google searches. Because of all these mentions, when people search for “Capybara Tips,” this blog post should float right up there, too. I hope it works.

Photo credit: Melanie Typaldos, used with permission (Note the watermark, lower right corner)

Have fun checking out the website, maybe think of it as a parody. I chuckled my way through it, for sure. But let’s make sure nobody takes it seriously, okay?


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