What's the deal with these online recipe sites?

I’m sure this happens with other subjects, but I have noticed it when searching for recipes. It always goes like this: I’m on Google Image or Pinterest, and I search for, let’s say, sausage and pasta casseroles. I will get hundreds of hits/pictures, and I click on one that looks especially tasty. The link takes me to a website. This is where things get strange.

Just about every single website purports to be the work of some industrious young homemaker who wants to preserve her and maybe her mom’s or grandma’s recipes. The websites are very professionally done, but they are all extremely similar to each other and seem to follow a set of rules for design, text content, and photography, and a biographical blurb about the creator. And although the recipe I’m looking for is readily available (and here’s where it gets weirder), I must scroll through 10 or 15 images of the same damn dish, each accompanied by meaningless cheerful comments, before I get to the actual recipe.

Does anybody know what the purpose of this is? It’s like clickbait, except with limited clicking and a lot more scrolling. Are these women real? If so, are they part of some cooking website cartel that pays them…per scrolling inch? It all seems mysterious to me. I assume I’m being scammed in some minor way, but I don’t know how. The recipes are usually pretty good. And the Stepford wives are always very cute.

The deal is you have to scroll through a bunch of ads embedded in the text before you get to the actual recipe.

The actual recipe is always at the bottom of the page, so CTRL+END is your friend.

I see no ads, but I do see exactly what the OP sees. An huge history of the dish, from the time it came over on the Mayflower through the revolution, how it fed the troops in the battle of Gettysburg up through the author’s grandmother and mother and now her kids love it.

I don’t know why everyone has to have this. Do they think it gives “authenticity”? I ust skip to the recipe anyway, so it’s just wasted entropy.

Copyright issues.

You can’t copyright a recipe, but you can copyright the text that talks about it. So the page now has .at least some copyright protection.

I understand you might want to not feed these people clicks, but can you link to an example? I’d like to see one.

First off, I don’t understand how you search, I don’t use Google images ofr anything but meme pictures, and I hate Pinterest with a passion – it never leads me anywhere except to someone Pinterest page with not explanation of their images at all. (I actually blocked it on my browser, it may have improved, I just don’t know.) When I want a recipe, what I do is google web search by name. And click on reputable pages, at first. Although I do like good insigts from people’s blogs.

But yeah, scrollbait is now a thing. People so despise and hate clickbait that people have actually returned to the early web, where a page is built of images, practically useless ones, and the recipe is at the end. Did I just fall into a crack in time and land in 1992 again? Am I on AoL again?

There’s always the possibility that the similarities across disparate pages is a coincidence made from everyone using the same template. Makes me want to see these pages even more.

Chrome has an extension called Recipe Filter that takes you straight to the recipe. I love it!

Its a SEO tactic. Google considers a) how much time you spent on a page and b) whether it was the final page you visited for a search query as signals on how to rank that page. The blogs with long heartfelt stories at the top end up doing well in Google so eventually everyone copied that style.

At the risk of putting words in the OP’s mouth, this may be an example of what they’re talking about:

I view online recipes often. I always assumed as others above; the format is a way to keep interest and time, so that the viewer may see/click on more ads.

what I hate is like on allrecipies.com they tell you where and what local store website every single ingredient is on sale (they get a “consideration” if you buy through the link …while it’s handy when looking for an obscure ingredient, it messes up the page format you’re trying to read … so it’s just easier to turn off …

Ah. I’ve seen those before. I always assumed that was the standard blog style these days. But yeah, its very likely its the “standard blog style” simply because people know it maximizes advert visibility.

I have Firefox armored against that sort of thing, and such webpages don’t even load properly for me. Meh. No big loss.

OMG you have changed my life. Thank you! That’s great!

I expect that there’s some standard website-building template or automated tool out there where you can select “recipe” as your type of page from the drop-down list, and then it asks you for up to 8 pictures of the dish and prompts you for the family history of the dish and so on. Most of the people posting these recipes probably are genuine moms posting Gramma’s genuine recipe, but while they know how to bake casseroles, they don’t know how to make a webpage, so they just use the first standard easy-to-use tool they find.

Ditto! Holy crap. It never even occurred to me to look for a Chrome extension that did that. I only tried it on a couple of site, but it works great! I salute you, NotherYinzer.

How is that useful? Yes, you’ve created a little story that has copyright protection. Now what? Is the recipe protected in any way by that?

The recipe itself? No. The recipes themselves and basic directions are not copyrightable, but any further elucidation may be (and pictures and illustrations definitely are.) It at least gives recourse to any wholesale misappropriation of the website. But, yeah, I can take any recipe I find, and rewrite the directions just a bit to be safe and I’m in the clear as far as copyright law goes. Ethically and among my peers, though, it may be viewed negatively if I do so without attribution of sources.

I guess it’s some protection if someone had set up some automated system to create a pirate recipe website that just yoinked whole pages from legit recipe websites. Seems a reach as a plausible concern. I think the real answer is above. Just loading up content to fit ads into.

Google comes along, sees you’ve got a lot of original content, or at least it hasn’t seen those words in that particular order in very few other places on the net if at all. Your site must be good, right? So it puts it higher in its searches, driving a lot of others to see your ads. Profit!

Unless you are a Google optimization expert, I’m going to be a little skeptical that rambling family stories gets you ranked higher in search results.

Eh, recipes tend to get passed on by word of mouth, and tend not to leave much, if any, attribution trail. Say you find a casserole recipe on one of those sites, and bring it to a potluck. Everyone loves it, and so next time, you make it again. Someone else at the potluck asks for your recipe, and it ends up going in their recipe book as either “Sausage-Noodle Casserole”, or “pulykamell’s casserole”. Then their kid grows up, and remembers it as “Mom’s casserole”, and so on.