Stop Using ChatGPT To Write Your Blog Posts For You! It's Not Working...
I'm going to be frank here. I'm using ChatGPT to proof read this post. I even used ChatGPT 4's DALL-E features to generate the banner.
The State Of AI
At the time of writing this, we are nearing the end of 2023 and ChatGPT has been available to the public for about a year now. GPT-4 now has a knowledge cut off date of April 2023 and browsing capabilities. Do you know what that means? It means we've hit the era of AI incest or AI echo chamber. AI has officially started learning from crappy bad misleading content produced by itself last year.
Now to be fair, people have been posting low quality garbage on the internet since its inception. But at least the garbage posters had to take time to produce garbage back then because we didn't have AI to speed-run that process for us.
I Am A Hypocrite
My journey with writing blog posts using AI assistance looks a lot like this meme template that I use way too much:
I feel guilty writing this post now because I'm guilty of running my written work through ChatGPT to a point where my own voice is lost in AI lingo. In fact, about a month ago I was ready to write a post about how to use ChatGPT to write your blog posts. This post will technically inversely answer that question.
ChatGPT Is A Tool, Not A Crutch
Just like a spell-checker is pretty useless if you feed it gibberish or nothing, ChatGPT is also useless if you ask it to come up with results without any guidance.
I use ChatGPT in my programming to save me time by writing unit tests and e2e tests for me. I sometimes also use it to build out UIs for me after feeding it the context of what I'm currently using. There have been a bunch of scenarios where I know exactly what I want to accomplish but don't feel like remembering the syntax so ChatGPT comes to the rescue. I've even used it as a sounding board for ideas at crazy hours of the night when nobody else is awake to talk to me.
In all these scenarios it helps me accomplish my goals. Sometimes it gets the job done very well, and sometimes it misses the ball completely. The problem comes in when you blindly trust it.
I used to play a game where I'd hit the autocomplete button on my phone to see what strange nonsensical string of words it would produce. The results made less sense than the drunkest text I had ever received. This autocomplete button works great to speed up typing, but unguided it becomes worthless.
The biggest problem here is that ChatGPT can "sound right", and that will mask misleading information.
The Problem With Using ChatGPT To Write For You
Writing technical blog posts has always been a great way to impart your knowledge and talk about your experiences. It is a great way to practice communication and solidify your understanding on the topic you're writing about. A big part of writing is to demonstrate your knowledge in a specific area and your ability to communicate.
This is where the issue of AI generated content crops in. People - especially developers - are lazy. When you ask AI to come up with ideas for you, you are opening yourself up to writing about concepts that you don't really understand. This means that you have no way to vet whether or not the content that you're generating is actually true or not. In the context of software development, the generated content can also point to outdated information.
Horror Story Examples
I saw a post on Dev.to the other day called "45 NPM Packages to Solve 16 React Problems". I'm not going to link to it because I hope it gets deleted. The post "sounded" legit but it was full of information that was good for a developer in 2018. The problem was that many packages on that list were linking to projects that had been abandoned. If the writer of that post had actually used those packages, they would know this. In fact, even the packages that were not out of date still linked to versions of the packages that were no longer maintained.
In another post, I read the following concluding statement about TypeScript types vs interfaces:
By applying these best practices, you can ensure that your TypeScript projects are not only efficient but also outrank others in search engine results.
This is just blatantly incorrect. If you know anything about TypeScript you would know that using a type over an interface will have absolutely no effect on your project's search engine ranking. In this case you can see that dodgy misleading information can creep in everywhere.
Using ChatGPT to write on your behalf is only going to hurt you in the long run. Use it as a tool, not a crutch.
Do your part in preventing the rise of low quality content by calling it out to prevent others from blindly following misleading information on the internet. And be careful yourself not to be misled by content that "sounds right" but isn't.