Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Reading Level

I was browsing Adam David's weblog a few minutes ago when I noticed that he had a link to the Blog Readability Test. I had heard about its existence for some time now, but I hadn't yet bothered myself enough to give it a try.

Considering that it's the last day of a four-day weekend, though -- and that I'm deprived of anything constructive to do before I report to work tomorrow -- I decided to give it a shot. So I opened a new tab in Firefox, fired up the website, entered this blog's address in the text field, and waited five seconds to get...


Something was definitely wrong here. I mean, I constantly hit advanced reading levels on Microsoft Word analyses. I can provide rudimentary discourses on philosophy, probability and aesthetics. I have a vocabulary so large that people actually complain about it sometimes. I have no idea why some Java-based readability algorithm would think that I'm readable by elementary schoolkid standards.

Just to convince myself that maybe it was a random designation of some sort, I tried entering a few other blog addresses in the box. Dean Alfar's blog, for example, scores as "High School". Philippine Genre Stories comes out as "Junior High School". Dominique Cimafranca's blog emerges in the "College" category, with a "Post-Grad" add-on.

After those and a few other blogs, I tried entering the "Lengthofwords" address again. This time I got...

That couldn't possibly be right.

I tried keying in my address all over again. Same result.

I entered a ton of other blog addresses that I knew. Some of them I read on a daily basis, others I passed by every now and then, and still others I grabbed off a bunch of random links. Everything came out in some strange mixture of "High School" to "College" to "Genius" category -- the latter of which, I imagine, is the most admirable one.

After that exercise, I went back to square one and entered my blog address again.

You have got to be kidding me, Blog Readability Test. No wonder I get contracted to write preschool textbooks and little else.

Right now I'm wondering if this is a good thing or a bad thing. I suppose that it's a good thing when you consider that your writing reaches a larger audience than you originally intended. I'm thinking that that might actually be a bad thing, though, considering some of the works I write. And I think that it might be a little difficult for people to take me seriously if I were to tell them that my works can be comprehended by elementary school students across the world.

Geez... the next thing you know, you'll be telling me that my short stories are fit to be read by three-year-olds.


Dominique said...

On the other hand, it means that I should be worried. My blog is difficult to read!

If I believed these usability tests, that is.

Charles said...

It depends on what field you're writing for. Normally, that's a good thing. Ever heard of the term KISS? Keep It Simple Stupid. Personally readability is a goal of mine.

Sean said...

Dominique, Charles: Unfortunately, I haven't been able to find the base algorithm that the Test uses to determine its rankings, so for now I have no idea how to take this.

I agree that readability is important, yes, but I'd like to aim for legitimacy as well. I want to come across as somebody who makes people think, not just somebody who can explain things in terms so layman-ish that a kid could understand.

That, and, in order to have a control subject for my last round of attempts, I keyed in the address of a pr0n site for the Blog Readability Test -- which scored in the "Junior High School" range. And darn it, you know that something's wrong when, somewhere out in the World Wide Web, there is a pr0n site that is actually more linguistically advanced than your blog.

Dominique said...

It might be because of all the technical terms it uses. And the foreign phrases.

Sean said...

Dominique: That sort of discourse must attract a lot of readers. (*Sigh*)

Gem :3 said...

Maybe it's the lack of profanities, Sean. Insert a couple of choice bovine feces phrases and your readability might shoot up a couple of year levels, if that's your goal.
You don't even type the word PORN.
And you know, some puppets sing that "The Internet is for Porn....."

Sean said...

Gem: I caught the musical, you know. And I'd take that suggestion to heart, if only we could be sure that that's how the algorithm works. :)