Inside the secret list of websites that make AI like ChatGPT sound smart (2023)

AI chatbots have exploded in popularity over the past four months, stunning the public with their awesome abilities, from writing sophisticated term papers to holding unnervingly lucid conversations.

Chatbots cannot think like humans: They do not actually understand what they say. They can mimic human speech because the artificial intelligence that powers them has ingested a gargantuan amount of text, mostly scraped from the internet.

[Big Tech was moving cautiously on AI. Then came ChatGPT.]

This text is the AI’s main source of information about the world as it is being built, and influences how it responds to users. If it aces the law school admissions test, for example, it’s probably because its training data included thousands of LSAT practice sites.

Tech companies have grown secretive about what they feed the AI. So The Washington Post set out to analyze one of these data sets to fully reveal the types of proprietary, personal, and often offensive websites that go into an AI’s training data.

A treemap showing 11 categories of websites used to train AI

To look inside this black box, we analyzed Google’s C4 data set, a massive snapshot of the contents of 15 million websites that have been used to instruct some high-profile English-language AIs, called large language models, including Google’s T5 and Facebook’s LLaMA. (OpenAI does not disclose what datasets it uses to train the models backing its popular chatbot, ChatGPT)

The Post worked with researchers at the Allen Institute for AI on this investigation and categorized the websites using data from Similarweb, a web analytics company. About a third of the websites could not be categorized, mostly because they no longer appear on the internet. Those are not shown.

Tap on the boxes above to view top sites

We then ranked the remaining 10 million websites based on how many “tokens” appeared from each in the data set. Tokens are small bits of text used to process disorganized information — typically a word or phrase.

Wikipedia to Wowhead

The data set was dominated by websites from industries including journalism, entertainment, software development, medicine and content creation, helping to explain why these fields may be threatened by the new wave of artificial intelligence. The three biggest sites were No. 1, which contains text from patents issued around the world; No. 2, the free online encyclopedia; and No. 3, a subscription-only digital library. Also high on the list: No. 190, a notorious market for pirated e-books that has since been seized by the U.S. Justice Department. At least 27 other sites identified by the U.S. government as markets for piracy and counterfeits were present in the data set.

Some top sites seemed arbitrary, like No. 181, a World of Warcraft player forum; No. 175, a product for beating burnout founded by Arianna Huffington; and at least 10 sites that sell dumpsters, including No. 183, that no longer appear accessible.

Jump to the dataset

Others raised significant privacy concerns. Two sites in the top 100, No. 40 and No. 73, had privately hosted copies of state voter registration databases. Though voter data is public, the models could use this personal information in unknown ways.

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Business and industrial websites made up the biggest category (16 percent of categorized tokens), led by No. 13, which provides investment advice. Not far behind were No. 25, which lets users crowdfund for creative projects, and further down the list, No. 2,398, which helps creators collect monthly fees from subscribers for exclusive content.

Kickstarter and Patreon may give the AI access to artists’ ideas and marketing copy, raising concerns the technology may copy this work in suggestions to users. Currently, artists receive no compensation or credit when their work is included in AI training data, and they have lodged copyright infringement claims against text-to-image generators Stable Diffusion, MidJourney and DeviantArt.

The Post’s analysis suggests more legal challenges may be on the way: The copyright symbol — which denotes a work registered as intellectual property — appears more than 200 million times in the C4 data set.

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The News and Media category ranks third across categories. But half of the top 10 sites overall were news outlets: No. 4, No. 6, No. 7, No. 8, and No. 9. ( No. 11 was close behind.) Like artists and creators, some news organizations have criticized tech companies for using their content without authorization or compensation.

Meanwhile, we found several media outlets that rank low on NewsGuard’s independent scale for trustworthiness: No. 65, the Russian state-backed propaganda site; No. 159, a well-known source for far-right news and opinion; and No. 993, an anti-immigration site that has been associated with white supremacy.

Chatbots have been shown to confidently share incorrect information, but don’t always offer citations. Untrustworthy training data could lead it to spread bias, propaganda and misinformation — without the user being able to trace it to the original source.

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Religious sites reflect a Western perspective

Sites devoted to community made up about 5 percent of categorized content, with religion dominating that category. Among the top 20 religious sites, 14 were Christian, two were Jewish and one was Muslim, one was Mormon, one was Jehovah’s Witness, and one celebrated all religions.

The top Christian site, Grace to You ( No. 164), belongs to Grace Community Church, an evangelical megachurch in California. Christianity Today recently reported that the church counseled women to “continue to submit” to abusive fathers and husbands and to avoid reporting them to authorities.

The highest ranked Jewish site was No. 366, an online magazine for Orthodox Jews. In December, it published an article about Hanukkah that blamed the rise of antisemitism in the United States on “the far-right, fundamentalist Islam,” as well as “an African-American community influenced by the Black Lives Matter movement.”

Anti-Muslim bias has emerged as a problem in some language models. For example, a study published in the journal Nature found that OpenAI’s ChatGPT-3 completed the phrase “Two muslims walked into a …” with violent actions 66 percent of the time.

A trove of personal blogs

Top Technology sites:

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Technology is the second largest category, making up 15 percent of categorized tokens. This includes many platforms for building websites, like No. 85, which hosts pages for everything from a Judo club in Reading England to a Catholic preschool in New Jersey.

The data set contained more than half a million personal blogs, representing 3.8 percent of categorized tokens. Publishing platform No. 46 was the fifth largest technology site and hosts tens of thousands of blogs under its domain. Our tally includes blogs written on platforms like WordPress, Tumblr, Blogspot and Live Journal.

These online diaries ranged from professional to personal, like a blog called “Grumpy Rumblings,” co-written by two anonymous academics, one of whom recently wrote about how their partner’s unemployment affected the couple’s taxes. One of the top blogs offered advice for live-action role-playing games. Another top site, Uprooted Palestinians, often writes about “Zionist terrorism” and “the Zionist ideology.”

Social networks like Facebook and Twitter — the heart of the modern web — prohibit scraping, which means most data sets used to train AI cannot access them. Tech giants like Facebook and Google that are sitting on mammoth troves of conversational data have not been clear about how personal user information may be used to train AI models that are used internally or sold as products.

What the filters missed

Like most companies, Google heavily filtered the data before feeding it to the AI. (C4 stands for Colossal Clean Crawled Corpus.). In addition to removing gibberish and duplicate text, the company used the open source “List of Dirty, Naughty, Obscene, and Otherwise Bad Words,” which includes 402 terms in English and one emoji (a hand making a common but obscene gesture). Companies typically use high-quality datasets to fine-tune models, shielding users from some unwanted content.

While this kind of blocklist is intended to limit a model’s exposure to racial slurs and obscenities as it’s being trained, it also has been shown to eliminate some nonsexual LGBTQ content. As prior research has shown, a lot gets past the filters. We found hundreds of examples of pornographic websites and more than 72,000 instances of “swastika,” one of the banned terms from the list.

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Meanwhile, The Post found that the filters failed to remove some troubling content, including the white supremacist site No. 27,505, the anti-trans site No. 378,986, and No. 4,339,889, the anonymous message board known for organizing targeted harassment campaigns against individuals.

We also found No. 8,788,836, a downed site espousing an anti-government ideology shared by people charged in connection with the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol. And sites promoting conspiracy theories, including the far-right QAnon phenomenon and “pizzagate,” the false claim that a D.C. pizza joint was a front for pedophiles, were also present.

Is your website training AI?

A web crawl may sound like a copy of the entire internet, but it’s just a snapshot, capturing content from a sampling of webpages at a particular moment in time. C4 began as a scrape performed in April 2019 by the nonprofit CommonCrawl, a popular resource for AI models. CommonCrawl told The Post that it tries to prioritize the most important and reputable sites, but does not try to avoid licensed or copyrighted content.

The websites in Google’s C4 dataset

Search for a website



RankDomainCategoryPercent of
all tokens



The Post believes it is important to present the complete contents of the data fed into AI models, which promise to govern many aspects of modern life. Some websites in this data set contain highly offensive language and we have attempted to mask these words. Objectionable content may remain.

Note: Some websites were unable to to be categorized and, in many cases, are no longer accessible.

(Video) Who needs ChatGPT - Make Your Own AI Chatbot

While C4 is huge, large language models probably use even more gargantuan data sets, experts said. For example, the training data for OpenAI’s GPT-3, released in 2020, began with as much as 40 times the amount of web scraped data in C4. GPT-3’s training data also includes all of English language Wikipedia, a collection of free novels by unpublished authors frequently used by Big Tech companies and a compilation of text from links highly rated by Reddit users. (Reddit, a site regularly used in AI training models, announced Tuesday it plans to charge companies for such access.)

[Quiz: Did AI make this? Test your knowledge.]

Experts say many companies do not document the contents of their training data — even internally — for fear of finding personal information about identifiable individuals, copyrighted material and other data grabbed without consent.

As companies stress the challenges of explaining how chatbots make decisions, this is one area where executives have the power to be transparent.


A previous version of this story described a chatbot learning to take the bar exam by training on LSAT practice tests. The LSAT is a separate test from the bar exam. The article has been corrected.

About this story

For this story, The Post contacted researchers at Allen Institute for AI, who re-created Google’s C4 data set and provided The Post with its 15.7 million domains. The Post cleaned and analyzed this data in a few ways.

Many websites have separate domains for their mobile versions (i.e., “” and “”). We treated these as the same domain. We also combined subdomains aimed at specific languages, so “” became “”

This left 15.1 million unique domains.

Similarweb helped The Post place two-thirds of them — about 10 million domains — into categories and subcategories. (The rest could not be categorized, often because they were no longer accessible.) We then manually checked the websites with the most tokens to make sure the categories made sense. We also combined many of the smallest subcategories.

Categorization is difficult and ambiguous, but we attempted to treat the data consistently to foster a general understanding of C4′s contents.

Common Crawl’s data hosting is sponsored as part of Amazon Web Services’ Open Data Sponsorship Program. Amazon founder Jeff Bezos owns The Washington Post.

The researchers at Allen Institute for AI were Jesse Dodge, Yanai Elazar, Dirk Groeneveld and Nicole DeCario.

Illustration by Talia Trackim.

Editing by Kate Rabinowitz, Alexis Sobel Fitts and Karly Domb Sadof.


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The best overall AI chatbot is ChatGPT due to its exceptional performance, versatility, and free availability.

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There's a new artificial intelligence-powered chatbot known as ChatGPT that can answer questions, generate essays and even write scientific papers from a short prompt.

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Simply ask a question get an answer from the answer generator in 3 simple steps.
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Open AI — ChatGPT

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Expenses: Chatsonic is a better option for startups and small enterprises since it is cheaper than ChatGPT.

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Lensa is the AI photo editing app everyone is using on Instagram! The app became massively popular this past week as this new trend continues to go viral on IG. The trend includes Instagram users posting AI-generated images from their own selfies that have been uploaded into the Lensa app.

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Is ChatGPT available as an app? ›

No, OpenAI doesn't offer an official Chat GPT app for Android. But you can access the ChatGPT website from the web browser of your Android phone.

What language does ChatGPT use? ›

ChatGPT's training data includes man pages and information about internet phenomena and programming languages such as bulletin board systems and the Python programming language. In comparison to its predecessor, InstructGPT, ChatGPT attempts to reduce harmful and deceitful responses.

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Sophia. Sophia is considered the most advanced humanoid robot. Sophia debuted in 2016, she was one of a kind, and her interaction with people was the most unlikely thing you can ever see in a machine.

What is the strongest type of AI? ›

Superintelligence. So, if weak AI automates specific tasks better than humans, and strong AI thinks and behaves with the same agility of humans, you may be wondering where artificial intelligence can go from there. And the answer is: superintelligence.

What AI app is everyone using on Facebook? ›

If you've logged on to any social media app this week, you've probably seen pictures of your friends, but re-imagined as fairy princesses, animé characters, or celestial beings. It is all because of Lensa, an app which uses artificial intelligence to render digital portraits based on photos users submit.

Is there a super intelligent AI? ›

Artificial superintelligence (ASI) is a software-based system with intellectual powers beyond those of humans across a comprehensive range of categories and fields of endeavor. ASI doesn't exist yet and is a hypothetical state of AI.

What is the fastest AI in the world? ›

Depending on the benchmark, the current world's fastest AI supercomputer is the Department of Energy's Perlmutter supercomputer. Capable of four exaflops of AI performance, it features 6,159 Nvidia A100 GPUs and 1,536 AMD Epyc CPUs.

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ChatGPT was released in November 2022 and has the potential to change the landscape of education. For example, students can ask ChatGPT to help with homework. By asking specific questions, students can get information and guidance on a wide range of topics.

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It has been covered widely by the media, and many experts believe it could be a game-changer in the AI industry. Some of the reasons behind the hype include the potential benefits of Chat GPT-4, its improved natural language processing abilities, and its expected massive parameters.

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How to Make 1,000 a Day
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How to earn $500 per day online? ›

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How can I make $100 a day? ›

How to Make $100 a Day - 17 Simple, Legit Ideas
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What professions will ChatGPT replace? ›

ChatGPT predicted that LLMs could one day replace workers in the following roles:
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Will ChatGPT take over human jobs? ›

The short answer: ChatGPT and its rival AI models could dramatically disrupt the labour market, including replacing routine jobs in some sectors. But overall, the technology could enhance productivity and complement human workers, instead of leading to unemployment, experts told Al Jazeera.

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Carpenters. Carpenters generally construct, install, and repair various residential, commercial, and industrial structures and fixtures. This manual work cannot be performed through ChatGPT.

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Which AI app is free? ›

Here's a list of the 5 best free AI apps available for Android.
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NightCafe Creator is an AI Art Generator app with multiple methods of AI art generation. Using neural style transfer you can turn your photo into a masterpiece. Using text-to-image AI, you can create an artwork from nothing but words on a page.

What is the name of the chat AI? ›

ChatGPT is an artificial intelligence (AI) chatbot developed by OpenAI and released in November 2022. It is built on top of OpenAI's GPT-3.5 and GPT-4 families of large language models (LLMs) and has been fine-tuned (an approach to transfer learning) using both supervised and reinforcement learning techniques.

How do I chat with open AI? ›

In order to use chat GPT, one is required to visit the official website which is Thereafter, one needs to create an account on it by entering their basic details. Once your account has been created on chat GPT, you can begin using it by typing in your questions to get the answers.

Which AI website can draw anything? ›

starryai is an AI art generator app. You simply enter a text prompt and our AI transforms your words into works of art. AI Art generation is usually a laborious process that requires technical expertise, we make that process simple and intuitive. starryai is available for free on iOS and Android.

What app has all homework answers? ›

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What is the most realistic AI generator? ›

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Which is the best free AI art generator? ›

What is the best AI art generator?
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1 more row
Apr 12, 2023

What is the most intelligent website in the world? ›

Lucid.AI is the world's largest and most complete general knowledge base and common-sense reasoning engine.

Are there any real AI apps? ›

Google Assistant

It is an Artificial Intelligence-based personal assistant for Android devices. Google Assistant allows you to use your applications hands-free.

What app is making everyone AI? ›

Lensa, an app, lets you upload pictures of yourself that are then turned into magical, whimsical AI images. It basically uses an open-source neural network model called, Stable Diffusion to make it all happen.


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