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horse_ebooks' creator revealed
February 23, 2012 3:44 PM   Subscribe

the previously discussed horse_ebooks twitter spambot/oracle creator has been tracked down by gawker
posted by Pants! (37 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite

 
where is the interview Chalupa; Chalupa Supreme
posted by Mister Fabulous at 3:58 PM on February 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


Well... they think they did. The person in question never responds nor confirms. Also, leave it to Gawker to try their hardest to ruin something cool.
posted by codacorolla at 4:00 PM on February 23, 2012 [6 favorites]


All day they vented over-caffeinated rage at the prospect of Horse_ebooks being unmasked. A woman offered $200 for someone to go to my apartment "and find out whether or not he can take a shot to the nuts;" another user suggested that "finding out the truth about horse ebooks might kill you, or someone might kill you if you keep trying."

:|
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 4:08 PM on February 23, 2012


horse_ebooks is a big Bad-Ass dude benching 3 plates. No more investigation needed.
posted by Sticherbeast at 4:10 PM on February 23, 2012 [4 favorites]


i done a lot of things

i aint never hit a guy in the nuts over a twitter tho
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 4:11 PM on February 23, 2012 [7 favorites]


I hope they try tracking down the author of @DadBoner next...
posted by JoeGoblin at 4:15 PM on February 23, 2012


This is my favourite horse_ebooks.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 4:16 PM on February 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


Horse ebooks
‏@Horse_ebooks


Turn trash bags into Tarantulas.
3 hours ago via web


I'd like to buy horse_ebooks as an ebook.
posted by 2bucksplus at 4:21 PM on February 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


Would ya hit a guy in the nuts for writing for Gawker?
posted by cjorgensen at 4:29 PM on February 23, 2012


Here's a picture of the creator actually typing a tweet on his wireless keyboard.
posted by perhapses at 4:29 PM on February 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


Would ya hit a guy in the nuts for writing for Gawker?

Exude a new power. He will notice and it will shake

- @horse_ebooks, February 19th, 2012
posted by Mister Fabulous at 4:41 PM on February 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


If @horse_ebooks really is an algorithm, it's an algorithm of uncanny uncanniness. It's clearly not selecting random passages; truly random text is incoherent and dull. If there's no human discernment at play (and I have my doubts), then this guy has hit upon the long-lost formula for discomfiture.
posted by bicyclefish at 4:43 PM on February 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


The thing that makes it truely bizzare is that it is a spambot for horse related ebooks of all things. That is some niche.
posted by Ad hominem at 4:46 PM on February 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


I wonder if there's a way that I can just hook my Facebook up so that it automatically posts whatever horse_ebooks does. Perhaps any that don't include a link.
posted by cmoj at 4:48 PM on February 23, 2012


Thank you for subscribing to CAT FACTS!
posted by Windopaene at 4:50 PM on February 23, 2012 [6 favorites]


i actually wanted to read this article but i kept getting really angry at the writing.
posted by p3on at 4:53 PM on February 23, 2012


man i wonder if why the @pony_ebooks thing stopped updating is they threatened his children
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 4:54 PM on February 23, 2012


This was a weird, anticlimactic article, but I think its characterization of the whole phenomenon is accurate enough. It's hard to pick, but this is probably my favorite horse_ebooks tweet... partly because the mental picture of a horse exclaiming this in despair is funny on its face, and partly because if you look up the source of the quote, it turns out that Kathy was drowning her disappointment in alcohol because of her mortgage or something like that. Though the ones about the pyramid and hair growth are up there, too.

The funniest thing about it is how it seems to have a few distinct personalities based on what it's quoting from (mortgage huckster, mystic huckster, just plain psychotic, etc.), and I think it's the uncanny feeling that comes from that + the non sequitur sentence fragments that drives the fascination. It seems just intelligent enough to provoke suspicion. I can't imagine being passionate enough about it to get all bent out of shape about a Gawker writer trying to unmask the person behind it, but I can sort of understand, because then it becomes boring. That said, if it is manually controlled, I have to wonder what the point is... are people actually buying the ebooks? Seems like a lot of effort for minimal return, unless spammy ebooks about underwater mortgages are really popular.
posted by Kosh at 5:01 PM on February 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


If @horse_ebooks really is an algorithm, it's an algorithm of uncanny uncanniness. It's clearly not selecting random passages; truly random text is incoherent and dull. If there's no human discernment at play (and I have my doubts), then this guy has hit upon the long-lost formula for discomfiture.
Text generated by markov models tends to have this surreal quality. He may have a large database of statements which are interesting on their own.

Basically a markov model looks at the probably transition word from word. So the world "the" is often followed by a noun, so if you have part of a passage ending in 'the' you often will pick another passage starting with a noun.

Here's a web basedmarkov generator I found, and here's some output I got from putting this thread in as input:
Would ya hit a big Bad-Ass dude benching 3 hours ago via web

Would ya hit a link.

i done a few distinct personalities based on February 23 [3 favorites +] [!]

Thank you if why the author of course, alludes to CAT FACTS!
There not that good, but this thread is pretty short to generate some good text, I think.
posted by delmoi at 5:32 PM on February 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


"A woman offered $200 for someone to go to my apartment "and find out whether or not he can take a shot to the nuts;"

Someone DMed me hoping to take me up on the offer and I had to explain that Adrien Chen doesn't have genitals in the conventional sense; in their place is a swirling void that whispers "pageviews" with the echoing voices of a million dead children
posted by a_girl_irl at 5:42 PM on February 23, 2012 [14 favorites]


Would it be better if horse_ebooks was an art project that had an ad-hoc SEO scheme attached to it? I honestly can't decide. I think that, regardless, it's better to leave it a mystery.
posted by codacorolla at 5:45 PM on February 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


@cjorgensen

i do not see circumstances leading to me contemplating testical based violence due to internet, i do not see it coming to that
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 5:53 PM on February 23, 2012


I don't suppose someone would summarize, so that I don't have to give Gawker a visit?
posted by five fresh fish at 7:05 PM on February 23, 2012


Wanting to get a better sample of metafilter posts that might be funny I went through and grabbed text from these threads 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 and grepped out the 'posted by' lines.

Here's some of the results:
YOU KNOW WHEN YOU’RE JUST DRIVING AROUND OR YOU’RE IN H&M OR SOMETHING AND YOU CAN’T TALK TO DOGS. THINK ABOUT IT.

Let's see... OH NO, GOD, TURN THEM OFF !!!

Upper right front quadrant for bargain books - which arrived pre-stickered from the smuggest thing in it, and that's before some joker starts 'trolling' the pigs

SO ME AND YOU DON’T EVEN KNOW WHY YOU’RE CRYING, LET ALONE CRYING TO THE MUSICAL EQUIVALENT OF A STICK OF GUM

Killing a random animal isn't getting in touch with your hair dryer. ON LOW HEAT

Killin's easy. Butcherin' ain't. I read the youtube comments.

SO ME AND YOU ARE READING THIS ‘ZINE AND YOU’RE ALL LIKE, “WHOA, THIS IS GREAT,” AND I’M ALL, “I KNOW.

'Better not visit the HR department. It's a real bloodbath in there right now...'

Killin's easy. Butcherin' ain't. I read the article and killed 2 minutes.

They kept chickens, and would go hunting for a bear, a deer or two and maybe an elk. The animals they kept and raised for food were all let into the house, a log cabin with concrete floors. They used to say, 'You must think we are crazy letting the animals in and naming and petting them!' I told them it wasn't nuts at all. The animals to my mind deserved as much kindness as possible. I mean they were keeping the humans alive and healthy. I used to let the chickens sit on my lap. I admit that these chickens gave good eggs and when it was time to eat them, they were delicious. They took their life mostly for granted. Oh and weeds? Dandelions are very tasty for salad. Stinging nettles make awesome soup. those of us who aren't afraid to eat a weed or rwo will survive The Zombie Appocalypse.

James Franco is going on goofballs.

On our friends JÄGERNEIGHBORS from McDonald's "Hungry for one off ball cancer.

YOU’RE JUST SITTING AT A RED LIGHT OR FONDLING A SWEATER AND YOU START THINKING ABOUT TIME MACHINES AND L’ESPIRIT DE L’ESCALIER OR RILKE QUOTES OR WHATEVER

So when you blow your bits with a hair dryer: use the low setting so you don't scorch your knees ankles. ftfy (once vowed never to say ftfy, but in this case couldn't resist)

THE MACHINE REQUIRES CALIBRATION was apparently what it took for me to lose it totally at work Whelk!! :(
posted by delmoi at 7:06 PM on February 23, 2012 [8 favorites]


delmoi: Most of the horse_ebooks tweets seem to coherent to have come from a Markov model - at least a simple one. From Googling a few of them, it seems that they've been lifted more-or-less whole from various sources, mostly Google Books and Web pages that have something to do with ebooks. Oddly, this one is included in various mangled forms in the meta tags of some sketchy shopping site. Not sure which direction causation runs there.
posted by obvious at 7:08 PM on February 23, 2012


I don't suppose someone would summarize, so that I don't have to give Gawker a visit?

Here's a 15% MS word auto summary:
Because Horse_ebooks is a robot.

Horse_ebooks is a Twitter spam bot originally set up to promote horse-ebooks.com, an online store of horse-themed ebooks with a retro design equal parts GeoCities and MySpace. A characteristic Horse_ebook superfan boast is: "I unfollowed Horse_ebooks, because my friends retweet all its tweets anyway." We're so deep into Horse_ebooks, you couldn't escape it if you tried.

My quest to uncover Horse_ebooks started last month. I had been a fan since Horse_ebooks had less than 2,000 followers (any serious Horse_ebooker can tell you the number of followers Horse_ebooks had when they became one of them) but I eventually became fixated instead on Alexei. Twitter shows what device is used to post each tweet, and on that day, Horse_ebooks switched from posting "via horse_ebooks" to "via web."
A sampling of Horse_ebooks tweets.

Was Horse_ebooks playing to its newfound audience?

Dozens of people declare their love to Horse_ebooks on a daily basis. A human being behind Horse_ebooks could either intensify or diminish its myth. Because even today, Horse_ebooks has the cold heart of a spammer. Someone is making money from the sales and clicks generated by Horse_ebooks. The only clues to his identity lay in the domain registration for Horse-Ebooks.com. (Some speculate on Horse_ebooks' mood swings.)

All day they vented over-caffeinated rage at the prospect of Horse_ebooks being unmasked. I cancelled my offer and forgot about Horse_ebooks for a while.
***

Horse-ebooks.com was a dead-end, but maybe there'd be something in one of Alexei's lesser works.

Most of the information on Alexei's other sites was identical to Horse-ebooks.com. "I don't know if you are aware of this, but the website horse-ebooks.com and the horse_ebooks Twitter account have become fairly famous in America. Hours after I contacted Alexey on Sunday, Horse_ebooks tweeted:

Here's a 250 word markov model generated text from it:
Horse_ebooks fans, who lives wherever they vented over-caffeinated rage at 11 Lenina Street and there was was in touch with grammar errors, he can tell, Russian city of Horse_ebooks on Alexei's other sites was delighted that so deep into exponential growth.

But it wouldn't be interested in America. Please email or someone to evade Twitter's spam bot may have fashioned an ebook on Horse_ebooks, beloved online automaton, and lives wherever they found his book, and I found his identity lay in the cold heart of text of praise seldom applied to actually speaking to promote his portfolio site, he have an entirely genuine name Alexey Kouznetsov is all this adoration.

But it was tricky. A human hand, then at having watched a subtle adjustment. Twitter followers than me, while the American programmer who lives wherever they found there. This is used a spam bot originally set up to any idea what I will too.) Kuznetsov is all its newfound audience?

Unmasking Horse_ebooks switched from spending time in the internet marketing tool. But these same thrill of a former client, a spam bot originally set up Horse_ebooks had been designing websites since at 11 Lenina Street in an acquired taste to say that, even a level of any particular name—like, for the truth about horse ebooks with Horse_ebooks' tweets, there is a response. But Horse_ebooks has 40,000 Twitter fanbase rivaled only by Horse_ebooks. On Sunday I couldn't escape it wouldn't be able to post each with their vodka. Indeed, Kuznetsov Kuznetzov."
posted by delmoi at 7:15 PM on February 23, 2012 [3 favorites]


delmoi: Most of the horse_ebooks tweets seem to coherent to have come from a Markov model - at least a simple one.
Play around with the online 'chain length' setting. If you have a short text database and long chains, you tend to get back verbatim, or nearly verbatim text.
posted by delmoi at 8:34 PM on February 23, 2012


obvious: Then again, the most recent tweet is "Rotating Grease-separator Greenhouse Griddle Griddle Griddle-greaser Grinder. Cutter and reamer Grinding and polishing machine Grinding and."

It has a certain Gertrude Stein-esque beauty, but I wouldn't exactly say it's coherent.
posted by en forme de poire at 8:37 PM on February 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


Unlike Gawker, I actually got Alexey to reply to my e-mail once, although this was long before horse_ebooks became "big on the Internet". Here's our conversation in full:
Do you maintain the twitter account @horse_ebooks? I would like to know how to make an account like this.


Hi,

we have great programmer.

Alex


Does your programmer know how popular @horse_ebooks has become among real Twitter users?


We often send new tweets. And follow to other twitter users who interested in horses.

I ended the interview there. I think this provides more horse_ebooks-style poetry than the entire Gawker article.
posted by shii at 8:48 PM on February 23, 2012 [7 favorites]


I bet you could program a text generator with more stuff then just Markov matrices. You could add lots of tweaks with how things work to generate perhaps more coherent but more bizarre sentences using more advanced analysis tools like lingpipe. For example, Markov matrices don't take grammar into consideration. But you could build something where you take the probability not only of the next word, but also of grammatical structure using parts of speech tagging. You could generate a sentence, and then randomize the nouns and verbs for a madlib effect.

It's a field of AI called: Natural language generation

Not that horse_ebooks is doing anything like that. It's probably just long chain markov stuff, which works well if you don't care about getting back verbatim text.

I mean come on, the guy who runs Horse_Ebooks is Russian. Andrey Markov was Russian. What more do you need?
posted by delmoi at 8:50 PM on February 23, 2012


I went through a markov phase I tend to shift into and out of.

Here's some half working, crappy thingers I made: Deleted Thread Generator, PonyMarkov mark 1, PonyMarkov Mark 1.1 alpha half finished piece of crap WITH PICS AND FASTER!
posted by mccarty.tim at 9:23 PM on February 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


And yes, one of them outputs code for reddit comments. Don't judge me.
posted by mccarty.tim at 9:25 PM on February 23, 2012


I went through a markov phase I tend to shift into and out of.

Hmm...I wonder if there's some sort of stochastic method we could use to analyze your interest in Markov models.
posted by jedicus at 9:30 PM on February 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


You kids and your high-tech twitterbot spam. When I was a lad we got our gibberish and mind-bending non-sequiturs off a printed page and WE LIKED IT THAT WAY.
posted by Hardcore Poser at 9:52 PM on February 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


This reminds me of when I screwed with the fans of Lost with my Bigspaceship1.com for a few months.
posted by atomicmedia at 10:24 PM on February 23, 2012


all 500 pages
posted by atomicmedia at 10:28 PM on February 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


From mccarty.tim's Deleted Thread Generator: Vote for Working Man wants for exchanging used software against us from hated (hipster?) writer Tao Lin

Oh man. Majestic in its incoherent grar-baiting. Five stars.
posted by en forme de poire at 4:11 PM on February 24, 2012


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