Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Highbrow Blogging

So I saw this blog readability site the other day (hat tip: JES) and at first I was happy about the props it was giving my writing skillz, but then I became concerned. I started wondering what kind of rating system it's using and what my rating should mean to me. 
JES and others haven't been happy with their ratings and, to be honest, at first I was hoping for a Double Doctoral Degree Rocket Scientist rating. So I conducted thorough analysis of the software (and by 'thorough analysis' I mean 'drank beers while watching tv') and concluded that the readability test works perfectly well. The system rates blogs based purely on readability and doesn't rate content at all (which should have been obvious to me since it's called a blog readability test).
Anyway, after realizing this, my rating concerned me because it could be a sign that my posts are not as clear and concise as they should be. To test my hypothesis I ran the blogs of Brad Setser and Felix Salmon (smarty pants, finance bloggers I follow) through the rating system to find out whether or not I was right. 
Nearly all of Setser's post require a Master's in finance or economics to properly comprehend, and a healthy portion of Salmon's require the same. But their blogs were rated as High School and Junior High respectively. To me, these ratings undoubtedly proved the system was rating writing style and not blog content.  
What does this mean for me?  Well, Setser and Salmon boil down exceedingly complex financial arcana into readable articles that high schoolers can understand. I turn fart jokes into scholarly dissertations. Setser and Salmon write about derivatives, leveraged financial intermediaries, fixed income arbitrage and illiquid securities while, most of the time, I'm just trying to find excuses to write the name Dick Butkus. 
I suppose I could find my blog's rating flattering. On one hand, it shows I'm in rarified Joycean air -- Finnegans Wake, after all, was nothing more than a 650-page fart joke gone horribly wrong.  But on the other hand, how many freakin' people have actually ever read Joyce? Sure we all like to lie and say we have, but we haven't. Nobody has. And the few who have are usually insufferable. Anyone who's read Finnegans Wake cover-to-cover is so bitter at having lost numberless hours to reading and trying to decipher Joyce's fart-joke prank that they have to act like it's scripture afterwards to save themselves from psychosis.  
Is this the future of my blog? Are these the type of readers I have? Am I reading way too much into this readability test?  Who knows... but on a more serious note, what do you think Dick Butkus's blog looks like?

1 comment:

JES said...

Hey, thanks for the mention.

Actually my unhappiness was more along the lines of mock outrage. I'm pretty sure those rating systems are either near-random OR based on a skewed analysis. (In an earlier post, I'd mentioned the possibility that they're considering just a blog's home page -- typically a few posts -- and/or its RSS feed, which is often just the first few sentences or paragraphs.)

As for you: Hey, for somebody supposedly a mere aficionado of Dick Butkus's farts, it's pretty damn impressive that you knew ro omit the apostrophe in Finnegans.

Er, unless it was a typo.