Users on the r/wow subreddit have seemingly tricked an AI scraping the web for news into publishing an article on a new World of Warcraft feature that doesn’t exist. After noticing several of the subreddit’s posts had been scraped for news content using automation, the subreddit embarked on an experiment. It would post obvious WoW-related falsehoods and misinformation in an excited tone and see how long it would take before that misinformation was published as genuine news.
So the subreddit created a fake new World of Warcraft feature, Glorbo, and began chatting happily about its many new, entirely fictional in-game applications. The purposeful misinformation is easy to spot — for example, Glorbo (which obviously doesn’t exist) was supposedly first teased in Hearthstone back in 1994 (a game that wouldn’t exist for another 20 years).
Characters. Locations. Supposedly important lore and story moments. Fictional AMAs with equally fictional World of Warcraft developers. Both a farming and a dating sim. All were subject to Glorbo’s fictional influence. The subreddit happily posted away, waiting to see if the bots would take the bait.
Sure enough, it did. A website called The Portal, owned by Zleague.gg, ran an SEO item on Glorbo headlined “World of Warcraft (WoW) Players Excited for Glorbo’s Introduction”, quoting the main Reddit thread directly. Though it appears The Portal has since realised its mistake and removed the post, it can still be read in full on Archive.Today. The original post does not appear to denote that the story was automated. The author byline on the piece does not lead to a bio or social media links of any kind.
Kotaku Australia has reached out to Zleague for comment and will update this piece should it respond.
In the end, this is an amusing lesson in the dangers of automating news content to please Google. A human writer would have known all of this was bogus (and very funny). A human editor never would have let the piece make it to the page. If this is the future of SEO, it has a bloody long way to go.
Fair play to the denizens of r/wow. It appears you got ’em, fair and square.