Inevitable “I Write Like” Backlash Begins


Have you played with I Write Like yet? It’s the site where we learned that Madonna’s daughter and Kurt Vonnegut are basically the same writer. It’s also been telling some users they write like Dan “Da Vinci Code” Brown, and people are getting pissed.

The site uses an algorithm called a “Bayesian classifier,” whatever that is. But however it may actually work, it’s been giving out some questionable results. It told the New York Times Dave Itzkoff that Herman Melville writes like Stephen King, and Gawker’s Max Read found that Mel Gibson’s rants were a dead ringer for Margaret Atwood.

But the real backlash has begun because people are not getting prestigious enough writers.

At this blog, a certain Teresa is not happy. “I do not write like Dan Brown…Fraud! Cheat! Writing an application that could analyze prose style would be a real achievement. Writing one that compares vocabulary (and probably a few other characteristics like sentence length) is trivially easy.”

I smell sour grapes, Teresa.

It’s easy to laugh it off, but for those who have been Dan Brown’d, the pain is very real. Our very own Jen Doll recently went through this. And as NYU student Luis Paez-Pumar told me, “As soon as I saw Dan Brown I said, ‘Fuck you, dude. Fuck. You.'” Luis is still dealing with how the site “lowered his writing self-esteem.”

Personally, I write like David Foster Wallace, so the site is fine by me!