P.E.A.N.U.T.: 6 steps to staying ahead of AI when writing articles

(Graphic by Maria Korolov via Canva and Midjourney.)

I get dozens of emails every day from people who want to contribute articles to Hypergrid Business. Sometimes, they even want to pay me to run the articles. The catch? There’s a link somewhere in the article to something the author wants to promote.

I’m not, in principle, opposed to running sponsored content. We’d just put a “sponsored” tag on it and use the money to pay for things that people don’t want to write for free. For example, I’d love to be able to afford to hire a freelancer to go to OpenSim concerts and other events and write about them. Wouldn’t that be a fun job for someone?

But sometimes the article topics are good enough that I’d run them for free. For example, a VR company might have one of their experts write an article about the state of VR in some industry. That could be useful, even if it does promote that VR company.

Unfortunately, 99 percent of the articles that people suggest are worthless.

Here’s how I think they are created:

  • A content farmer gets an assignment, such as “Benefits of VR in medicine”
  • They Google the topic
  • They cut-and-paste the information they get from the Google search
  • They rewrite the results just enough to pass a plagiarism check and throw in some search engine-friendly keywords
  • They send me the article

Why would anyone want to read this? Everyone has Google. They can just Google the topic themselves. There’s no new information in this article. It just fills up space and lowers the value of the website to readers. As a rule of thumb, whenever I get an email pitch that doesn’t explain who the author is, that guarantees that the article is “Copyspace-proof,” or that ever uses the word “SEO,” I mark it as spam and hit the delete button. This stuff is garbage and just wastes my time.

Now, AI is going to make the problem even worse because the work flow will be dramatically accelerated:

  • A content farmer gets an assignment, such as “Benefits of VR in medicine”
  • They ask ChatGPT to write an article on the topic
  • They send me the article

Again, ChatGPT is free. Anyone can just ask ChatGPT themselves the same question. There’s no new information in this article that’s produced. Even if search engines don’t decide that all AI-generated content is spam, they’ll still down-rank it because it has no new information.

Google released guidance this Wednesday, in fact, about how they decide whether AI-generated content — or any content, for the matter — will now be ranked by their search engines.

I’ve added a couple more criteria to their list, based on what Hypergrid Business is looking for and created my own acronym — PEANUT — which stands for Personal, Emotional, Authoritative, Novel, Unique, and Trustworthy.

The more of these things you have in your article, the higher the chances that I’ll run it. And that applies to both sponsored and non-sponsored posts.

Oh, and if you’re a fiction author, I’ve written an article explaining how to PEANUT principles apply to fiction writing over at our sister publication, the sci-fi and fantasy magazine MetaStellar.

Here are each of those six PEANUT factors, in more depth.

(Image by Maria Korolov via Midjourney.)

P is for Personal experience

The person writing the article should talk about their own history with the topic.

For example, if you’re writing an article about AI in medicine, you might have been treated by a doctor who used AI to help read their scans. Or a relative might have been cured of cancer based in part on a treatment created with the help of AI.

If you’re writing about virtual worlds, you might talk about your own history with the platform.

An AI doesn’t have personal experience with anything, because it’s not a person.

If you don’t have personal experience with a topic, you can get some. You can ask your relatives if any of them have been treated for diseases with the help of AI. Or you might search your memory — did you get a COVID vaccine that was created with the help of AI?

Or, for the virtual world article, you can go and log into a virtual world and try it out.

(Image by Maria Korolov via Midjourney.)

E is for Emotional connection

Why does this topic mean so much to you? Was the relative cured of cancer particularly important to you? Write about that connection.

Did your experience in virtual worlds inspire you in some way? Did it make you feel things you hadn’t felt before? Were you able to do something emotionally meaningful in a virtual world? Write about that.

AIs don’t have emotional connections because they don’t have emotions.

By explaining what the topic means to you, the emotional weight it carries, you help the reader make an emotional connection as well. And that makes for a better article.

A is for Authority

Why are you the one writing on this topic? What makes you an expert?

Really. I want to know. What makes you an expert? Put your resume highlights up top in the story. If you’re the founder of a VR company, say so right up front. Your opinion matters because you know what you’re talking about.

In particular, can you offer some advice or insight that’s better than what an AI can provide, because you have deep expertise?

An AI might recommend a list of things to do, for example, but only you might know what actually works and what doesn’t, based on your experience with customers.

An AI will just repeat all the same advice that’s already out there. It won’t know that some of the advice is worthless or outdated.

(Image by Maria Korolov via Midjourney.)

N is for Novel

Do you have any new information in the article that just came out and isn’t yet available to the general public?

For example, maybe you just went to a conference, talked to a bunch of experts, and learned some cool stuff that most people don’t know yet.

Or maybe you were experimenting with some virtual world tools, and figured out a new hack.

Or maybe you got a press release from a company that is still under embargo, so nobody has seen it yet. If we publish your article right when the embargo lifts, we can be among the first publications that publishes this news.

Or maybe you conducted some research or ran a survey and have new results to share.

If you don’t have anything new to say, find it. You can talk to experts, for example, and see if any of them have a new angle on the topic. Ask them what’s happening that most people don’t know about yet, or about their predictions for what will happen next.

(Image by Maria Korolov via Midjourney.)

U is for Unique

I don’t want to run an article that’s the same as a thousand other articles out there. What makes your article different?

Do you have a different background or point of view? Do you have a particular set of qualifications that makes you uniquely qualified to write about the topic?

When you tried out the technology, did you get different results than everyone else? When you ran the survey, were the results unexpected? When you talked to the expert, did they make a prediction that was surprising, but, when you think about it, makes sense after all?

Or maybe you have an exclusive. That means that something happened and you’re the only one who has this information. Maybe you were the only one at the event when it happened, or a source agreed to only talk to you.

Exclusives are good stuff. Publications love exclusives. Sure, they don’t last long, as everyone else jumps on them soon afterwards, but, for a few days — or a few hours — we’d be the only ones with the news. Score!

(Image by Maria Korolov via Midjourney.)

T is for Trust

Why should we trust your opinion?

If you’re the founder of a company, or the owner of an OpenSim grid, of course you’re going to tell us that your stuff is the best.

If you offer a particular product or service, then of course you’re going to tell us that everyone needs that thing, and it solves all your problems.

Maybe the article you’re writing has nothing to do with selling something. For example, if you’re an OpenSim grid owner and you’ve surveyed your users about, say, how tall their avatars are, then that’s potentially useful information to people who create avatars — and isn’t overly promotional.

If, however, the survey is about why people love your grid, then yeah, we probably won’t run it. I mean, can you imagine that survey? “Do you love our grid more because of the community or because of the great support you get?” Really? Those are the only options? Yeah, nobody’s going to buy that.

You don’t have to have all six PEANUTs for every single article, but the more you have, the higher the odds that I’ll run it.

Let’s look at how this article you’re reading now scores on the PEANUT scale:

  • Personal: Yup, I’ve got personal experience accepting articles for publication.
  • Emotional: Well, I am getting a little annoyed about having to go through all those spammy emails.
  • Authority: Yes, I’m an authority on this subject. I’ve been editing Hypergrid Business since 2009, and, before that, I was a business news bureau chief in China for five years. Not to mention all my other years of experience as journalist and editor.
  • Novel: As far as I can tell, my PEANUT acronym is completely new in this context — it also means “phase-inverted echo-amplitude detected nutation” in the context of peanut allergies, but I don’t think that counts. Plus, Google’s post was only published on Wednesday, so not many people have weighed in with their advice yet. Google’s own acronym is EEAT and, personally, I think mine is catchier and more comprehensive.
  • Unique: I am the only person able to comment on how to get stories published in Hypergrid Business because I’m literally the editor of this site, and my word is final.
  • Trust: Why would I lie about this? I want people to submit good articles so that I have good stuff to run on the site.

Well, look at that. Six for six. I’m hitting the “Publish” button now.


Watch Maria discuss the PEANUT principles in the video below:

Maria Korolov