Sunday, August 06, 2006

How About the Wall Street Journal for a Little Light Reading?

It had to happen. One day I would clue in. And realize it. My blog is too hard to read.

Mom-101’s post on Readability Meters has sparked a new craze that has the enviable quality of pleasing no one. Clearly, the goal of using a readability meter would be to make one’s blog more readable, not less, but that hasn’t stopped legions of bloggers from bewailing the discovery that anyone with a grade four education can readily comprehend the content of their blogs. (At least, the results suggest that those nine- and ten-year-olds could understand the many single-syllable words and short sentences they find in the blogosphere; they might have greater difficulty understanding such concepts as the muffin top.)

I’m a sucker for any kind of online test or quiz, so I clicked right over to Juicy Studio and typed in my URL, generating a Flesch-Kincaid level of around grade seven, and a Gunning Fog Index that placed me somewhere between The Da Vinci Code and Time or Newsweek. Sounds good to me. So I posted my results and sat back while the other results poured in: lots of fifth-graders, a few grade fours, one or two grade sixes. And here I am in grade seven, with braces and a badly fitting bra, slapping on the blue eyeshadow in a desperate attempt to look like Cyndi Lauper, while all the cool kids are over there on the junior playground, skipping rope and playing four-square.

The great thing about online quizzes is that if you don’t like your results, there is a simple expedient – retake the test. So I went back to Juicy Studio and this time typed in the URL for my entire July archive. There you go. Maybe my last few posts have been a bit wordy and pretentious, but with a larger sample, the true clarity and simplicity of my blog is sure to shine through. Behold the results:

Total sentences: 849
Total words: 15178
Average words per Sentence: 17.88
Words with 1 Syllable: 10402
Words with 2 Syllables: 2993
Words with 3 Syllables: 1241
Words with 4 or more Syllables: 542
Percentage of word with three or more syllables: 11.75%
Average Syllables per Word: 1.47
Gunning Fog Index: 11.85
Flesch Reading Ease: 64.51
Flesch-Kincaid Grade: 8.70

For your ease of reading, I will highlight some of the key stats. (See? "Stats" is two syllables shorter than "statistics.") First of all, in the month of July, I managed to crank out more than fifteen thousand words. That is, during a month when I was lecturing for two-and-a-half hours per day and cranking out posts in five-minute gasps of time between monstrous stacks of essays and exams, I managed to produce an archive that is about a quarter of the length of a Harlequin romance novel.

And did you notice the average sentence length? If a sentence comes in below eighteen words around here, you can count yourself lucky. And get ready for it – because every eighth word you hit is going to be three syllables or more. My Gunning Fog Index is now suggesting that if you find this blog a little taxing, the Wall Street Journal might be more your pace, since it comes in at around 11 and I’m a whopping 11.85.

But my Flesch-Kincaid Grade is the real heart-breaker. Sigh. I always hated high school – and I’m clinging onto grade eight by the skin of my teeth. A couple more four-syllable words (in addition to the five hundred I used in the month of July), and I’ll be missing the bus and forgetting my locker combination all over again.

19 comments:

Mom101 said...

Dude, I am sparking no such craze, much as I'd like to take the credit - or perhaps distance myself from it?

I am here applauding your eighth grade posts, each and every one of them. But then, as we all remember, just because we could read something in eighth grade doesn't mean we could begin to appreciate it the way we could now.

Take that, Ruben Kinkaid, or whatever.

nonlineargirl said...

That's funny, I was thinking it was sad that my posts about poop and small breasts were generating such easy-reader material (something like 4.7 or so...) Yay for big(ish) words!

Mary-LUE said...

Hey BubandPie... I came over here and looked at your results and saw you were higher than me... I was confused because I thought I was higher than you then I realized you redid the test. That is, like, totally something I would do. [Does speaking Valley Girl lower your results? It should! ;)] At least we are still both junior high level! I notice that the higher your grade level, the lower the readability score. Hmmm...

It was nice "blog" meeting you! Thanks for stopping my place. It is getting late, but I'll be back this week to check out some of those 17 word sentences (which far surpass my mere 13 word ones.)

Veronica Mitchell said...

I am so envious of your eighth grade level. I was in fifth, but I think I will retake it your way.

sunshine scribe said...

I may write like a fourth grader (though I am off for a redo of the test. stat). But I can read at least like an eight grader. And what this pre-pubescent gradeschooler reads, she likes. Alot.

sunshine scribe said...

So apparently (after testing every single month of my archives), the best I can score is a fifth grader for anything written before June.

Can I still play with the big word kids on your side of the playground?

Kari said...

Intriguing!

Sometimes I want a quick read. Othertimes, I want to appreciate the art behind the words. Grade eight ain't bad. ;-)

Bobita said...

Grade eight, eh?!

Well, this junior-high-wanna-be LOVES your Grade Eight blog! Even better than those Grade Seven Newsweek articles!!

PS...we can miss the bus together and get together for a quick trip to the mall!!

:)

Mommy off the Record said...

I bow down to your literary greatness once again, B&P. I scored at only a 3rd grade reading level (gasp). I was a little perturbed by that. I'm all for readability, but 3rd grade? GAH!

Your literary prowess is one of the reasons I like to read your blog though. I learn a new word now and then and though you do use "big" words, your blog is definitely readable. It's really the best of both. Keep it up!

P.S. There's just one thing I don't get. I've looked up the words that you have to type on your word verification and they're NEVER in the dictionary. I can't figure it out???

bubandpie said...

Hey, Bobita - I've decided that if I crack the ninth grade, this time around I'm doing it differently - a lot more cutting class and getting drunk (and here's where things haven't changed, because it still only takes half a glass of red wine).

Sunshine Scribe - I'm pretty sure your playground is where the fun's at. I'm calling "king" for four-square (do you know how to play that game? It's a goodie).

Beanie Baby said...

Whenever I've read anything about these readability tests anywhere else, it's always been stated that the *lower* the result, the *better.* The goal isn't to make yourself unintelligible by using big words, it's to replace all the big words with short ones so everyone can follow along. Grade 4 is normally the target grade level for what's considered ideally readable writing.

So it sounds like everyone is right about on target, which is good.

(I got a 5.7, but it would be fun to see how different archives stack up.)

Peter said...

I write for fifth graders, Totally Awesome! 6 th grade is when kids get cynical.

metro mama said...

Keep on doing what you're doing. Loving it. (See, it's those one-word and two-word sentences that kill me).

The June Cleaver Diaries said...

OMG--- I'm stuck in fourth grade. I hated fourth grade. My teacher always made us hug her when we walked into the room.

My best frined, Misfit Hausfrau, is in 5th grade. Makes sense, since she;s really a year older than me AND has a degree in English and all.

Off to play Ghost in the Graveyard.

Christina said...

Heh, I never thought to check a month's worth of posts and see what the results are. Now I must go check it again.

And just FYI, I find your blog to be enjoyable easy-reading.

Mouse said...

I got 6th grade for mine, and I had actually expected it to be higher.* Then I realized that my sentence length average was probably artificially low because the analysis included a post with 27 short bullet-points.

*A paper I just finished had a 12.7 grade level and reading ease of 37.2, but that may have been affected by extended quotes in multiple languages.

wendy boucher said...

My blog is too easy to read if you ask me. But what do you expect from a blog with the word "poop" in the title? I think you should be very proud. I'm one of the jumpropers and I don't think I even make it to double dutch.

Mrs. Chicky said...

Um, yeah. I was going to tell you to start dumbing things down. But then I thought, nah, I like reading your posts. They make me feel wicked smaht.

Do fourth graders understand irony and sarcasm? :)

lildb said...

I think you're tough and cool. (Eric Cartman style.)

I'm tired. So no muy cleveroso tonight. just love vibes, baby. can you feel the love, tonight?

woah-oh-oh.