Blargh Blog

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

How Blar Fell Off

Here's a chart of my blog readability statistics by month, as calculated by this internet website (hat tip: everybody's doing it).

The abbreviations that I am using to try to make plain text line up in a chart are:
mth - Month
words - Total Words
wds/s - Average words per Sentence
%w>sl - Percentage of word with three or more syllables
sl/w - Average Syllables per Word
GFogI - Gunning Fog Index
FleRE - Flesch Reading Ease
FKG - Flesch-Kincaid Grade
*** see update below

mth words wds/s %w>3sl sl/w GFogI FleRE FKG
sep 14940 15.76 13.23% 1.49 11.59 65.05 8.10
oct 11438 14.65 13.29% 1.50 11.17 65.12 7.81
nov 08463 12.37 13.43% 1.50 10.32 67.38 6.93
dec 03236 07.99 13.13% 1.53 08.45 69.42 5.56
jan 04738 13.35 14.82% 1.55 11.27 62.53 7.85
feb 02002 08.17 12.49% 1.49 08.26 72.23 5.21
mar 00958 07.10 15.34% 1.54 08.98 69.64 5.31

apr 04801 13.37 14.46% 1.54 11.21 63.16 7.77
*** 00434 05.11 14.52% 1.53 07.85 71.83 4.51

The focus is meant to be on the three readability scores, but personally I find the nearly monotonic downward trend in words per month and the steadiness of the number of syllables per word to be most interesting.

The Gunning Fog Index and the Flesch-Kincaid Grade are both supposed to measure the grade level required to read the materials (higher numbers means it's more advanced), while the Flesch Reading Ease measuers how easy it is to read on a 0-100 scale, with 60-70 said to be the sweet spot (higher numbers mean it's easier to read). I'm not sure how the program deals with things like the sidebar, post titles, and posts like
this one, so readability statistics should be interpreted with caution beyond the skepticism that is due to any measure of readability based on nothing more than counts of word length and sentence length.***

UPDATE 4/26, 1:30PM
*** Of course there's a way to test how these things are dealt with. I just put the url for one of my littlest posts into the program, and it spit back the numbers that I put in the line of the chart with the asterisks. It counts 434 words and 85 sentences of low grade level writing, which suggests that the sidebar is bringing down my words per sentence average and making my writing look easier than it is. I'm not going to go retabulate all the readability scores to correct for this effect. Instead, I'll just point out that there is ths bias in the scores, especially for my less prolific months. Posts like the one linked to above also bias the scores in the direction of easiness - that one gets counted as 107 sentences with only 513 words, which helps account for the December scores.

Interestingly, the syllables per word in the sidebar is still just about the same as all the monthly numbers.


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