“Astroturfing” is nothing new. There have been plenty of stories about letter campaigns to newspapers that were clearly pre-written by interested parties. However, as the political season heats up, the practice is apparently increasing rapidly and upsetting plenty of editors, who don’t quite know what to do about it. Of course, as the first article notes, most of the astroturfing campaigns seem to come from just a few sites. Considering the number of tools out there for teachers to catch plagiarism by searching online, you would figure it wouldn’t be that difficult to set up a similar offering to catch astroturfing. Still, some argue that the angry reaction from editors over astroturfing is blowing the situation out of proportion. The people who cut-and-paste are still making their opinions known, even if they’re not really exactly their own opinions — and some believe that’s worthwhile, as cutting-and-pasting is more action than no action at all. [Techdirt]
OK, OK. I’m going to follow up on the astroturf issue. Really. Stay tuned.