I hire writers and work with them a lot. I also use ChatGPT pretty much every day at this point. So before you read any more, I'm not actually against AI writing. I'm only against using ChatGPT to complete something when you were explicitly told not to.
I certainly don't think AI-generated writing is bad, but it definitely hasn't been used properly by a majority of writers in the freelance market. People get lazy, lie, and just don't care anymore since they can finish things in a matter of seconds. But now that everyone has access to ChatGPT, it's easy to spew up AI-generated garbage in just a few seconds.
If I sense a piece of writing was written with AI, it probably was. If I can't tell, I really don't care. Robotic writing is annoying and can be sniffed out by anyone who used ChatGPT for more than a few weeks. Natural human writing flows quite nice & "feels" real. ChatGPT writing that hasn't been tweaked or prompted correctly often just repeats boilerplate writing syntaxes.
Due to my frustration with writers lying about their writing, I did some digging. While I've been using AI detection tools since they came out a few months after ChatGPT did, they're still not the best. They definitely give good insight but aren't the best way of checking for an AI article. You have to use these tools with visualization tools & your own intuition to really determine if an essay was written with AI.
Originality's AI Visualizer Tool
While there are many specific AI detection tools to check if something was written with AI (or ChatGPT, more specifically), you really don't get anything other than a number or percentage score which isn't the most accurate and definite way of proving something. That's why I love Originality AI's visualizer.
The best way to truthfully tell if an essay was written using AI is to run the article through one of these visualizers. They show you the edit/revision history on an article at 10x speed. You can literally watch the article build itself in front of you:
You can only do this with articles that were written with Google docs & ones that you have edit access to. If you're checking a writer, student, or employee's writing, make sure they do it on docs & give you access to edit the entire document. You can then sign up for Originality, paste the article through their detector & visualizer. You'll really have a good clue after this.
The easiest way to visualize writing is to activate the chrome extension & log in once you have an account. You'll see a button at the top of each document to visualize writing in real time. Just click it & feel free to replay the article until you've seen enough copy and pasting!
Using AI Writing Detectors
A few months back, I made a pretty comprehensive list of the best AI detectors currently available to the public. I mainly run things through Originality or Content at Scale, depending on exactly what I'm aiming for. Originality works as both AI detection & can check for plagiarism, so it's super helpful to check writing from upwork or any other freelance writing platform. Content at Scale is the better choice when I'm looking to test something quick – like when somebody sends me writing samples from previous clients. If the score is under 70%, I pretty much let it slide.
If you want to check out my full review on all of the tools you can:
- Originality AI Review
- Try Originality (includes the visualizer)
- Content at Scale Review
- Try C@S's AI Detector (free)
- Winston AI Review
- Try Winston AI (best for teachers)
- GPTZero Review
- Try GPTZero (most confident detector)
To use them, just copy in an essay (typically from Google docs or Microsoft Word) and paste them directly into the testing field. Some of these tools even let you upload files directly to them:
Some of these tools (like Winston) even provide pdf reports containing everything you need to know about the essays
We Made Our Own Detector
I was kind of fed up with false positives. I honestly don't mind if a few essays that use a mix of AI & human writing, if they're on the fence there's not much I can do about it.
I'm more concerned about checking essay articles that are blatant AI. Things that you can almost tell just by reading it (especially if you've used ChatGPT quite a bit). We worked together with some developers to create an AI detector that is pretty good at detecting obvious AI, but doesn't tend to flag papers as AI unless it's more sure. And since AI detection isn't something you can prove, I figured it was worth leaving some slack on the table.
Our free AI detector works very similar to any other one. You simply paste the article in and submit the writing. You'll get a percentage explaining how likely the writing is to be human-generated in just a few seconds.
Those are really all the methods I do besides using manual inspection (the last few tips I spoke about on this article). Use a detector to get some insights, try to visualize the writing, and then use your own judgement. Also make sure to test multiple essays from the same source before making a decision. You could average the score you get from these detectors across multiple papers to get a good estimate!