I’d been puzzling over where I’d seen an online discussion about what makes a good blog (although in reality it should’ve been what makes a successful blog; we’ll get back to that later) and, as you can see from the link, tracked it down again. All right, stumbled across it. That lead me to something called the Flesch-Kincaid Reading Level, a formula for measuring the reading level of an English text. (Seems a little obvious, doesn’t it?) I took the top few blog entries and threw them into the machine. This is what I got.
Flesch-Kincaid Reading Ease: 50 (ideally 60 to 80; higher score = more readable)
Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level: 10 (ideally 6 to 7; lower score = more readable)
Gunning-Fog Index: 17 (ideally 11 to 15; lower score = more readable)
Average syllables per word: 1.67
Average words per sentence: 15.45
The amusingly named Gunning-Fog index is meant to indicate the approximate age which a reader needs to be to comprehend the text. I don’t know what a grade level of 10 means, but it seems to be the level of schooling required in the States.
Anyway, my 15.45 words of fame are up. Mr Bamboo needs to go foraging.
I’ve been, foraged, and returned. Out of curiosity, I’ve been grabbing texts from various sites and putting them in the machine. The results I’m seeing are comparable with the results which I got above. However, when I think about it, I’m a little surprised by the results above since a test on another recent example of my writing produced scores within the ideal range; although I think the complexity of my style depends on my mood.
I like to think I have an easy style of writing and that although some of the subjects I cover may not be readily understood by a non-specialist audience, the discussion is still meant to be accessible to a general reader. Of course, I’ve often thought much the same when I’ve tried to describe phonology to non-linguists in simple terms. Could I be more self-deluding?
[07.09.14. On reflection, I think measures of readability are no more than amusing diversions, which should never be taken seriously. They might be fun to manipulate to see how short a sentence can be, and yet still fall into the topmost category since the assumption seems to be that longer sentences are indicative of more sophisticated writing.]