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Sunday, November 11, 2007

Treppenwitz: The short school bus of weblogs

Apparently there is a site out there that will scan your blog and tell you what level of education is required to understand what you write.

My friend Jameel (he of the Muqata Pancake House) emailed me with the bad news: 

cash advance

So obviously the first thing I did was go and enter in most of the blogs I know.  I mean seriously, if we're going back to school here we may as well admit that it's all about what all the other kids are doing.

I'm not sure what algorithm they're using to come up with their ratings, but if a board certified anesthesiologist is rated at Elementary School level and a graduate of an Ivy League journalism school is stuck in Jr. High with me... well, I must doing OK.

I was pleased (maybe relieved would be a better choice of words) to see that most of the people I read write at either the Jr High or Elementary School level.   A couple of really bright people I read were rated at the High School level, and one was even at the University level (undergrad)... but I suspect that these results were skewed by a particularly high ratio of foreign words not recognized by the software scanning the home page of the site.

Update:  Yeah, just as I figured.  Dov Bear comes in at the high school level... a sure sign that something is rotten in the state of New York, er I mean Denmark.

What confused me about this is that I am constantly getting comments from people about how many of my posts send them running to look up words.

Go Figure.

Posted by David Bogner on November 11, 2007 | Permalink


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It's official: that site is a bunch of hooey. Mine got "high school." A high schooler's level of sarcasm and pop culture knowledge, *maybe*.

Posted by: Benji | Nov 11, 2007 2:09:19 PM

And I thought you were going to get back at me for last week's quip (endorsing mominisrael).

I guess I'll continue to stay in my bunker...

Posted by: Jameel @ The Muqata | Nov 11, 2007 2:20:51 PM

Did you know you can score "genius"? I just found out.

Posted by: a. | Nov 11, 2007 2:28:58 PM

Your average newspaper in the US is aimed at the 5th grade level. Don't worry.

Posted by: Alice | Nov 11, 2007 3:05:10 PM

a: Did you know you can score "genius"? I just found out.

Well, why don't you share the knowledge?

Posted by: Jameel @ The Muqata | Nov 11, 2007 3:11:04 PM

Benji... Don't sell yourself short. I've always considered your writing to be high school level. [ducking and running] ;-)

Jameel @ The Muqata... No, this would have been far too easy. I like revenge that involves several layers of complexity... a modicum of financial risk... perhaps some compromise of personal safety... and of course a large, enthusiastically supportive audience. :-)

a. ... Yes, I'm sure your frequent lapses into your German impress the heck out of the algorithm. :-)

Alice... While I may not be a fan of the 'Gray Lady's politics, I aspire to her level of writing. Please don't dump all US papers into the same classroom. :-)

Jameel @ The Muqata... Just write every 3rd or 4th post in German and you too can be rated a genius. :-)

Posted by: treppenwitz | Nov 11, 2007 3:20:45 PM

I got genius too :) ; probably due to the plethora of Hebrew in my Choshen Mishpot posts.

The canned link text they generate attempts to put a link to a cash advance site; I noticed you took it out (although you missed the ALT text). Others should be aware as well.

Posted by: Mike Miller | Nov 11, 2007 3:57:04 PM

I feel quite honored to be at the same level, Trep.

In the interests of accuracy -- since I *did* go to journalism school -- I want to say that I did not attend an Ivy League program in Journalism.

My BA in English is from Barnard, which is part of an Ivy League University (Columbia). My MA in Journalism is from NYU, which is a very good school, and where I learned everything I needed to create the career I have today, but which is not in the Ivy League.

FYI it takes a lot of talent to write complicated ideas in a simple enough way that even a Junior high school student would understand them.


Posted by: Sarah | Nov 11, 2007 4:34:48 PM

I guess I received a high school rating because I'm fairly fresh out of high school?

And I thought those A.P. English courses would have brought me up to a college rating...go figure.

Perhaps the rating should be reversed...it would make more sense that way, don't you think?

Posted by: tnspr569 | Nov 11, 2007 4:58:47 PM

My friend Jameel (he of the Muqata Pancake House)

DOH! I leave the country for a while and he expands the menu from just waffles to waffles and pancakes.

Posted by: Jack | Nov 11, 2007 6:04:42 PM

It said my writing is on a college level. Seriously, I agree with Sarah that you don't need a fancy vocabulary to write well. Trep, don't feel too bad, because our competitor Michael J. Totten's blog is at a Jr. High level.

I noticed several very bad usage errors--ones that even my Sabra kids wouldn't make (they make different ones)-- in a genius's blog so I wouldn't put too much stock in the whole thing.

Thanks Mike for the heads up--I removed the widget.

Posted by: mother in israel | Nov 11, 2007 6:16:02 PM

I'm a high school English teacher. I blog pretty casually. My rating... Junior High. The good thing is that that is still higher than my high school students who read on average at 5th grade level. :)

Oh, and the group blog I'm a part of: http://jewsbychoice.org They rank high school level. It's a good thing I don't post too often, I might bring their ratings down. :)

Posted by: Tamara | Nov 11, 2007 6:30:10 PM

Sarah raises an excellent point - this rating system doesn't rate how well the blogs are written, rather the level of education required to understand them. Is it possible that by expressing your ideas (not all of which are terribly simplistic) with clarity that you make them more accessible to the general populace? Or, more directly, that the more education required to comprehend actually translates into less intelligible material?


Maybe it's the communications professional in me, but isn't the desire to be understood rather than graded the goal behind most blogs?

Posted by: zahava | Nov 11, 2007 6:56:51 PM

woo-hoo...I'm at elementary school level...thank goodness, I wouldn't want people to struggle while reading my blog. (actually, if you knew my SAT scores...this would all make sense).

Posted by: cruisin-mom | Nov 11, 2007 7:25:39 PM

As long as you read it, you can call it whatever you want. : )

Posted by: Benji | Nov 11, 2007 8:58:07 PM

Wow! Mom in Israel, you scored a genius when I checked you out!! I scored JHS, much to my surprise. I thought I'd get kindergarten.....

Posted by: Baila | Nov 11, 2007 8:58:52 PM

Mine's junior high school as well (same as The Volokh Conspiracy's, a legal blog most junior high school students will probably not be able to read without having a question... or a few) and yours... and seriously, I have no idea whether it's true or not. But to be honest, I'd rather have my blog be as readable as possible, than incomprehensible and unnecessarily obfuscating, the way many college undergrads are, unfortunately, taught to write.

Posted by: Irina | Nov 11, 2007 9:08:23 PM

This rating system is good for giggles and some buzz. In the end, though, I am reminded of what I saw grammarcheck do to Shakespeare when I was writing a paper once--a sea of green. Only later did I discover that anything that rated more sophisticated than the fifth grade was similarly greened. I'm all for tasty prose, but if the goal is to write dull text in big words and rate high on a scale like this one, gimme "See Spot Run."

Posted by: Shimshonit | Nov 11, 2007 10:20:26 PM

I got rated as College (Undergrad) level. Maybe that's just a response to using British English spellings....

Posted by: Judy | Nov 12, 2007 2:42:35 AM

Hi, we don't really know each other (although our paths crossed a few decades ago at Hebrew U), but I'm a regular reader here...and I have to take exception to the title of your post...which I believe makes reference to the "short bus" used to transport mentally retarded students to school. I'm sure you can guess where this is going...my son Binny has trisomy21 (down syndrome), and rides the short bus to his public school class (in the afternoon, after his morning at the day school). Perhaps this is not what you meant, in which case I withdraw my comment, and commend you on your score! Sorry if I come off sounding like the political correctness police, but as long as people look at my cute, innocent son and see something to mock, it's my job to stand up and say something.

Posted by: Debbie | Nov 12, 2007 5:17:47 AM

My blog is College Level, Postgrad. Which is ironic, because I never got that far...

Posted by: Dave (Balashon) | Nov 12, 2007 8:56:32 AM

Mike Miller ... Yeah, I tried to strip out the links but obviously didn't do a good job.

Sarah... Thanks for setting the record straight. :-

tnspr569... Good theory.

Jack... I wanted to write waffle house, but it just sounded wrong. :-)

mother in Israel... Maybe that's it. The more problems the scan encountered with spelling, grammar and unidentified words the higher the score. Weird!

Tamara... I did a little test last night and found that it only looks at the first post or two... so the rating will change depending on what is at the top of the page (and who wrote it).

zahava... As usual you point out the obvious... which I managed to miss. :-)

cruisin-mom... Somehow I imagine your SATs were just fine. :-)

Is that your version of, 'call me anything you want but don't call me late for dinner'? :-)

Benji... Wow, MII just keeps getting smarter and smarter! :-)

Irina... All silly rating system's aside, I am constantly amazed at the incredibly high level, perfect English on your site. You grew up in a non-English speaking home and yet manage to write far better than most born-and-raised Americans I know!

Shimshonit... If you like 'See spot run', you're gonno LOVE my site. :-)

Judy... Possibly. I didn't check that in my tests yesterday.

Debbie... See my post today. I really appreciate your opening the door to discussing this issue.

Dave (Balashon)... Yeah, but you use a lot of jargon associated with lexicography which likely confuses the scan software into thinking you are smart. :-)

Posted by: treppenwitz | Nov 12, 2007 9:31:58 AM

hee,hee...well, I'm in good company, Trep--despite published opinions in court cases, breezing through AP English and near-perfect verbal SATs (we won't talk about the math score, thank you), I, too, rated "Junior High School." Look on the bright side--almost ANYONE can read us!

Posted by: aliyah06 | Nov 12, 2007 11:09:44 AM

My guess is that the score has a lot to do with sentence structure.

Posted by: mother in israel | Nov 12, 2007 12:09:30 PM

See Dr. Eugene Narrett's blog, http://www.israelendtimes.com/blog
for a genius rating.

Posted by: Dan | Nov 12, 2007 1:37:39 PM

cash advance

College! Ha! I'm an elitist and damn proud of it!

Posted by: amechad | Nov 12, 2007 1:57:15 PM

I got elementary school. I guess that's OK, considering that I'm writing CHILDREN'S STORIES!!!!
Works for me.

Posted by: Jersey Boy | Nov 13, 2007 12:53:23 AM

I got elementary school. I guess that's OK, considering that I'm writing CHILDREN'S STORIES!!!!
Works for me.

Posted by: Jersey Boy | Nov 13, 2007 12:53:32 AM

My blog rates a Junior High.


I remember some very cute girls from that period of my life. Extremely cute. Visually, it was a good time of my life. Oh yeah. I was also at my smartest then.

Posted by: Back of the Hill | Nov 13, 2007 4:20:32 AM

I don't understand what everyone's getting so worked up about.

I'm reasonably convinced that this is some variation on the Flesch-Kincaid grade level.

I ranked High School and my Flesch-Kincaid grade level was 8.65. (Your Flesch-Kincaid is 6.62.)

But having a junior high/high school school is ideal if you're striving for "readability."

Here's where to check your readability scores:

I'm guessing that the reading level pretty much tracks the readability scores.

Posted by: soccer dad | Nov 13, 2007 6:48:01 PM

I'm glad to see that someone above commented on the canned link from this site. If there hadn't already been comments, I would have chimed in and discouraged anyone posting it. I hate canned spam links. And BTW, my site ranked at a high school level.

Posted by: Amanda | Nov 20, 2007 9:13:27 PM

soccer dad is likely right about the Flesch-Kincaid. Also, this only measures whatever posts are on the page you feed into it (presumably your home page) at that time, so it doesn't take into account all your brilliant past posts.

Posted by: jg | Nov 25, 2007 7:56:00 AM

I'm slowly catching up on these posts, and of course, had to try it out. And just for fun, I put Treppenwitz in again. You seem to have slid backwards, because now it's coming up elementary school! Or is that you are even more proficient at making things eminently readable? ;)

Posted by: alissa | Nov 23, 2008 8:23:33 PM

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