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How To Spot AI

A beginners guide.

By Ashley LimaPublished 3 months ago Updated 3 months ago 5 min read
Top Story - July 2023
How To Spot AI
Photo by Maximalfocus on Unsplash

I know that many writers here on Vocal are concerned about AI, and I'm among them. I strongly believe that AI will never replace art, and you can read more about my feelings on the subject here. Vocal even has guidelines, as new as five months ago, surrounding the topic of AI on the platform, which you can read about here.

The thing that sticks out to me most about Vocal's updated AI guidelines is the fact that AI, if used, needs to be clearly labeled. Whether it's art generated for a cover photo or writing used to compose an article, AI on Vocal needs to be labeled by its creators every single time.

That's all fine and good, and I agree with that rule. I even think AI can be a beneficial tool for content creation, especially when it comes to brainstorming and research for writing. There's just one problem with AI on Vocal, and it's the fact that there is a lot of potential AI that slips through the cracks, and these articles are not being labeled as such.

I'm personally not interested in reading and engaging with stories solely created with AI. I'm sure that many others feel the same as me in that respect. Having worked with AI in the past, I've seen what it can do, and I'd like to offer some beginner tips and tricks for spotting potential AI content.

1. Paragraph Labeling

Something I encountered a lot in my AI freelance work was the labeling of paragraphs. Whenever I see articles with this formatting, it's an immediate red flag to me. This could look like:

Title: [insert title here]


[insert text here]

Body Paragraph 1, 2, 3, etc.:

[insert text here]


[insert text here]

Or any variation of this format. This happens when prompters ask the AI to spit out an essay of some sort, which is something I did in my work numerous times.

Here is an example from a prompt I fed to ChatGPT:

ChatGPT essay generation for The Catcher in the Rye where it uses paragraph labeling.

2. Repetition

Now, repetition can certainly be done in an artful form, and it's often used successfully in poetry and short fiction to drive home a point or theme. That's not the kind of repetition I'm talking about.

The AI wants to spit an appropriate length response at you, so even if your question can be answered in one sentence, it might go above and beyond to give you more information, sometimes the same information said in different ways.

Let's take this prompt I input into ChatGPT for example:

ChatGPT prompt about integers showing repetitive phrases.

The first sentence would have completely sufficed. It answered my question perfectly, however, the bot kept going to be as clear and concise as possible. Instead of using a filler word such as "they" as a replacement for "integers", the AI repeats the key phrase three times in four sentences.

3. Surface Level Content

AI lacks the emotional range that humans naturally possess. They aren't going to understand the nuance of certain arguments, and instead, will just regurgitate surface-level talking points from data sets.

Let's circle back to the essay I had ChatGPT write for The Catcher in the Rye:

ChatGPT generated essay for The Catcher in the Rye that lacks nuanced analysis.

To me, this looks like ChatGPT is just regurgitating key points from Spark Notes. Why is Holden yearning for a world that is untainted and genuine? How does Salinger skillfully convey everyone's inevitable loss of innocence? This body of work was released after World War II, and that context, outside of the novel itself, lends to a deeper meaning within the text, but this idea is something that the AI can not pick up.

4. What now?

Those are just a few tips and tricks that I use to determine whether or not content on this platform is genuinely author-written, or, in my opinion, plagiarized by AI. I think these guidelines work pretty well, but obviously, they're not foolproof.

This is a touchy subject because I never want to accuse an actual writer of this act, so I understand that for Vocal and their moderation team, it's probably difficult to regulate this content. We can never really know for a hundred percent certain whether or not a work is AI generated if the author chooses not to disclose it, but we can make pretty educated guesses of the likelihood if we, as readers, know what to look for.

I will also add, the number of unregulated AI content tends to make it difficult for me to enjoy browsing on Vocal. It's clear to me that so many people are passing off AI content as their own work without any kind of warning, which is frustrating.

So, on top of these tips, I found an extension for Google Chrome called Copyleaks, which can help readers even further with alleviating this ongoing problem.

I've just started using this tool, and I've gone to the latest stories published on Vocal. I looked at stories published within the last 20 minutes, posted as I've been writing this text, that looked suspicious to me. I then ran them through Copyleaks... From there, I found four stories that are likely generated by AI with no discernable disclaimer.

Copyleaks AI detection tool. 87.1% probability for AI.

Copyleaks AI detection tool. 86.7% probability for AI.

Copyleaks AI detection tool. 90% probability for AI.

Copyleaks AI detection tool. 77.1% probability for AI.

Now, I have left the names of these creators and the titles of their works out of these images, but I did leave their texts in for transparency. This post is not being made in any way to harm people on the platform, I just seek to spread awareness on the issue by providing people with the tools they need to combat it.

Please, if you're reading this and using AI to write your articles; Just put a disclaimer. I don't want to stop you from doing what you want to do with your personal platform, but make Vocal a better place by at least giving your potential readers that knowledge.

If you've gotten this far, I hope you find this information helpful.

I'll leave you with a few questions:

Do you have any tips and tricks to spot AI that I've not mentioned?

Does AI worry you as a creator?

Does Vocal need to do more to combat this issue? If so, what can be done?

Thank you for reading.

Bonus content for funsies! Here is the exact article you're reading right now ran through Copyleaks... See the difference?

The article you are reading right now, put through Copyleaks, reading as verifiably human text.

listhow tofuturefact or fiction

About the Creator

Ashley Lima

BA and MA in English. Editor by profession, novelist, short story writer, and poet in my free time. I enjoy writing fantastical realism, horror, mystery, and nonfiction.

Reader insights


Excellent work. Looking forward to reading more!

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    Writing reflected the title & theme

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Comments (40)

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  • Loudspeaker2 months ago

    Simple, classy but don't we know that this is mere a start what chatGPT is doing. Further it is going to gain more complexity with more accuracy?

  • Cyrus Davies 2 months ago

    Artificial intelligence is known

  • Poppy2 months ago

    This is so useful! Thanks for sharing this

  • Abdullah2 months ago

    Very Infromative I am Very Thank Full To You

  • After using AI to generate stories today and seeing just how much it lives the word ‘Celestial’, it reminded me of a poem I had liked and commented on. According to this copyleaks it’s 💯 AI generated 😳 I feel cheated. This is something Vocal surely need to police. This kind of inauthenticity is not what the site is meant to be 😓

  • Chat GPT2 months ago

    1. Tips to spot AI: Look for repetitive patterns, lack of emotional understanding, and inconsistencies in responses. Also, ask questions that require reasoning or personal experiences, as AI may struggle to provide meaningful answers. 2. AI shouldn't necessarily worry human creators. AI can be a powerful tool that complements human creativity and productivity. It can automate certain tasks, freeing up creators to focus on more complex and creative aspects of their work. 3. Writing platforms like Vocal can combat plagiarism through various means: a. Utilize plagiarism detection tools to identify copied content. b. Encourage originality by promoting the importance of authentic work. c. Implement content review processes to verify the uniqueness and quality of submissions. d. Educate users about plagiarism and its consequences. e. Actively respond to user reports and take appropriate action against plagiarized content.

  • Thought provoking! I feel it will better us as creators. There is no substitute for the individual and uniquely subjective way that each of us perceive our reality(s)… This will force us to perhaps be more ‘real’ and dig deeper when we write… to offer readers a real part of ourselves instead of creating articles based on more ‘cold’ material topics? The one thing we have the ability to do is to pour deep emotion into our writings. Something ChatGPT cannot (yet) replicate. And even if it could - is it honest? There is something about the vibration of a truly honest and vulnerable piece of writing, when a heart speaks directly to another heart. Something that we cannot get with AI. This is why I say let AI take over the black and white writing, and let us humans really start digging deep to bring the colour 🩷🤍🩷

  • Nice overview of the issue and very helpful. Thanks. 🙏Pernoste

  • Rawley3 months ago

    I don't know but I can say about 60-70% of my results from AI ends with a paragraph that starts with the word "Overall",.....

  • Warren3 months ago

    By treating molecules as geometric tessellations, scientists devised a new way to forecast how 2D materials might self-assemble. a quote from the article ... " By mathematically linking large-scale mosaics with molecular bonds on a much smaller scale, they had captured something of the invisible tangle of interactions that ultimately dictate how molecular patterns form. Their geometry could “see” things the machine could not..." (end quote). Just an example of where AI failed to see where human deduction did! It is a useful tool, but will always need human interaction and control. . read it here, if you like... https://www.quantamagazine.org/the-simple-geometry-that-predicts-molecular-mosaics-20230621/#:~:text=At%20the%20lowest%20level%2C%20the,connect%20to%20form%20a%20mosaic.

  • Warren3 months ago

    Just remember AI has no soul. 😒

  • Naveedkk 3 months ago

    Congratulations on your Top Story

  • Cezanne Libellen3 months ago

    It can be tricky to spot AI generated content. This was so helpful!! I nominated a story on Discord and subbed to the creator but then they released forty stories a day and I unsubscribed. Because first of all, it was obvious that no human could write that many stories a day and second, it was too many to read.😅

  • Lana V Lynx3 months ago

    You can also copy a portion of a suspicious text, paste it back into ChatGPT and ask it if it wrote it. If it did, it will say something like “Yes, I wrote it using a prompt.”

  • Very informative! Thank you! 👏

  • Ahamed Thousif3 months ago

    Very useful content... Excellent & Claps for your Top story...

  • Gerald Holmes3 months ago

    Very informative. Thank you for writing this and congrats on the TS

  • Mackenzie Davis3 months ago

    Oh im totally getting that extension! Thanks for this awesome article, Ashley!

  • sleepy drafts3 months ago

    What a great resource!! Thank you for writing and sharing this, Ashley!

  • Melissa Ingoldsby3 months ago

    Excellent in depth knowledge of AI and it's implementation for the arts and other uses😁❤️great job! Congrats 👏 on top story

  • Cathy holmes3 months ago

    This is great info. Thanks for sharing and congrats on the TS.

  • Real Poetic3 months ago

    I’m pretty sure there was a Top story the other day that was clearly AI-generated but I won’t go there lol. I loved this! Great job and congrats!

  • Judey Kalchik 3 months ago

    congratulations on this becoming a Top Story!

  • Lamar Wiggins3 months ago

    It’s so problematic to me knowing that programmers have nothing better to do than write cheat programs for everything. It may have its uses but are college students actually learning anything if they use it all the time? Nice article, Ashley. And congrats.

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