Need to be a Genius to Comprehend Skillful Means?

Today, was a relaxing day. I decided to celebrate the view from my usual blog spot by practicing some safe surf. My board in hand, the waves mild, the water warm, I headed out into the mist, where I found a curious site. The “Blog Readability Test” site I came across reminded me of those little Internet quiz sites that used to be so much of a hoot back when I was goofing around with MySpace. Of course, I had to try it.

I have gone past the days of finding out what kind of superhero, Broadway musical, or tropical fruit I am, but this new quiz now would profile my blog and perhaps tell me something more useful than that I have the personality of a sugar apple (very yummy by the way). Testing a blog for readability seems like a cool idea.

So, I entered in the URL of Skillful Means into the little textbox on my browser and hit the “Check Readability Now” button. My mind firing with images of a secret glacier cooled super computer somewhere on the borders of Antarctica queuing up the task of analyzing my humble blog site. Only the quickness in response of the imagined massively parallel CPU’s stopped me from checking the weather channel to check if I had killed any polar bears in the process.

The quick analysis provided the following information:

blog readability test

You’re a Genius!

Well, it was pretty darn obvious to me that who ever read this blog could only have the comprehension skills of a genius, now I know for sure. I did have my suspicions though. Now I understand all of the e-mail criticisms that I get on a timely basis saying, “Your blog has come up on my screen, but the language is unintelligible”, “I think I understand what you are saying, but I really don’t”, and my favorite, “You seem like a really nice person, could you tell me where the porn is?”

Blog Readability

The Blog Readability Site may not have the best analysis driving its answers but the concept of the site, I think, is quite a good one. The answer of “Genius” in such analysis would not be the best ranking though. It is pretty much best practice to keep your writing on simple terms so that anyone with an equivalent of an eighth grade reading level could understand it. Eighth grade is about the current comprehension level to shoot for; back in the day I remember being taught to shoot for fifth grade. (I suppose this “grade level” change is a good sign for the over all English reading ability, or perhaps a more sad way to look at it is that what we consider eighth grade now is equivalent to what was fifth grade then.)

I did look for a more legitimate tester of blog readability. I found one that provided the Flesch-Kincaid Grade and Gunning Fog Index for a blog. Here were the results based on the blogs main page showing the last 10 articles on Skillful Means:

Summary Value
Total sentences 1816
Total words 20040
Average words per Sentence 11.04
Words with 1 Syllable 12997
Words with 2 Syllables 4666
Words with 3 Syllables 1773
Words with 4 or more Syllables 604
Percentage of word with three or more syllables 11.86%
Average Syllables per Word 1.50
Gunning Fog Index 9.16
Flesch Reading Ease 68.72
Flesch-Kincaid Grade 6.42

I suspect this analysis is also picking up blog side bar information, but good enough. If the reading level goal is eighth grade, a Gunning Fog index of 9.16 is not so bad. A score of 68.72 for Flesch Reading Ease level means that this blog can be easily understandable by 13 to 15 year old students. Not bad at all. That is about eighth grade.

To get your own blog analyzed and pick up some good writing tips and resources be sure to head over to Juicy Studio. After checking out some of the information on that site, I will definitely be headed back. Very useful.

Secure In Your Writing Ability?

If you are secure in your writing ability, skip the test and the Juicy site and work on some formatting. Many readability issues on some websites have more to do with format than on grammar and word selection. Format has always been an art form and for some a science. A little knowledge of typography and presentation, although sometimes taken for granted in the Internet world of free templates, can go a long way in making your perfect prose ever the more readable.

Here is an article that lists some of the “writing” type blogs that I have actually found quite useful and frequent regularly:

20 Must Read Blogs For Freelance Writers

Here are a couple articles for some quick tips on formatting for readability:

Format Your Posts For Readability

Improving Readability Without Lifting a Pencil

My other half is a cumquat?

Ok… so maybe you don’t need to be a genius to understand my blog. I still like you…


Articles that may interest you:

Other Posts About Blogging

~ by Linda on November 24, 2008.

2 Responses to “Need to be a Genius to Comprehend Skillful Means?”

  1. Oh good, Dharma…I thought there was something wrong with me for enjoying your blog. Now I know. I’ve been struck with “Genius”. ‘Hope it’s curable. By the way…what is a cumquat? :)

  2. Smiles… too funny…

    A cumquat, also spelled kumquat, is a tropical fruit. You may have had them. They look like little elongated oval oranges, and they are citrus too. They are a little bigger than the standard grape, yet smaller than the larger sized ones.

    Lots of cool facts about them, of course, on Wikipedia…

    I personally find the name of the fruit as enjoyable as the flavor. I have actually reached another personal goal in my life by writing a blog post with the word “cumquat” in it.

    As for my other half’s tropical personality, I think of him more of kind of a guava. Flavorful, sweet, and good with a white bland cheese. He stores well and comes with his own flaky pastry.

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