Monday, November 12, 2007

As long as YOU understand me it's cool.


I read an interesting post over at my man plezWorld's site (Thanks for the kind words fam. I am not worthy), and reading it made me think of something that I have been wanting to talk about for awhile now.

There is no doubt that there are certain people out here blogging who have great technical skills and grammatical superiority when it comes to writing. People like "woozie" and "lisa" are perfect examples of this. I know, for instance, that it pains "woozie" to come to my site and read some of my postings because I take such liberties with the proper grammatical way of doing things. (He calls me the "grammar Jew". My Jewish friends please send your e-mails directly to "woozie")


Personally, I have never been a great writer, my strength comes from saying what's on my mind, and trying to convey it to the reader in a way that makes it easy for them understand. I am a lawyer, but not a corporate one. My days are spent in a court rooms speaking to Judges, jurors, or other lawyers and court officials. I don't write fancy briefs or memorandums of law for partners or clients. I argue the law to common folks and I try to make it as plain and simple as possible. Which is how I approach writing on this blog. In law school I was all moot court and not law review for those of you who know about such things. Mrs. Field, who is a great writer, won't even read my postings because it drives her absolutely nuts. My sister is a Fulbright scholar, and I am sure it's a struggle for her to read my blog as well. Hell, I even make up words when it suits me, and people who read this site on a regular basis are quite familiar with some of those words by now.

Now apparently there is this web service that rates the level of reading and writing on a particular site based on a formula which I don't quite understand. (David Sullivan said that a 15 year old girl's blog got a college rating) I think they call it the "blog readability test", and it rates the level of intelligence that it takes to read a particular blog. (They gave me a post graduate rating). Now I would think that the less level of education it takes to read a particular blog the better. If my blog, for instance, was rated with an Elementary School or Junior High level, that would be a good thing, because then it would mean that everyone who came here could pretty much pick up what I am trying to put down. If I was rated on a genius level, then I am not sure how many people---other than the woozie's of the world---would understand what I was trying to say, or would even care.


Still, you should go here and check it out, and see where your site rates. I suspect that people like woozie, Mrs. Field, and all the other great grammatical hounds would have a blog where it calls for a higher level of education to read it. But you never know, because I am not sure what these folks use as their criteria for judging. If I make up a word like A-merry-ca, or poli-trick-ster for instance, would it throw off the program and cause them to say it takes a higher level of education to read my blog? Or if I use simple words like cat, dog, and rat, would it have an opposite effect on my rating?


Bottom line, I read all sorts of blogs (Just look at my blog roll) and I enjoy damn near everyone of them. To me, if someone takes the time to put their thoughts down on a web site or to comment on someones site their words are worth reading. Even if I don't necessarily agree with them. And I have said this before, but it's worth repeating: I will link everyone who links me. (I would link a lot more but I just don't have the space) So if you have me linked and you don't see your site on my blog roll, shoot me an e-mail and I will have your site right up there.


At the end of the day it's all about linking , creating a larger community, and making the information that's out there available to everyone on the Internet. Knowledge is power, no matter how you get it, or no matter how hard it is to comprehend it when someone is giving it to you.



46 comments:

Zombie Mom said...

OK, I am no great writer - but I do get paid to write for a living... I am "good" editor with my own work and write for school districts, cities, and a slew of academics. I am not great, but good enought to get by... My blog is just what I do to relax - apparently, I am at a highschool readability level. I need to get all over that.

I knew this whole working mom thing was eating away my brain...

field negro said...

"My blog is just what I do to relax - apparently, I am at a highschool readability level. I need to get all over that."

Example number 1: "zombie mom" is paid to write for a living, and some 15 year old blogger is given a college level?

Maybe the lower grades for "readability level" means that you are a better writer to these folks. That would certainly explain my rating :)

burpster said...

I dropped out of high school in basically the 10th grade, but have no problem reading and understanding your posts. What I have heard (no facts to back this up), is liberal slanted papers tend to write to a higher grade level than right slanted papers? Not sure if this applies to blogs as well or not?

Reading is the key to trying to understand the world we live in. I read everything form this blog all the way to a slightly white supremist blog.

I think you do a pretty decent job getting your opinions out there Field, which is why I return to read more.

Hathor said...

I remember someone saying that a newspaper article should be written at a forth grade level. I think they were speaking of the vocabulary a forth grader was expected to know in the 19th century.

I tested my blog and got the same rating as you, FN. I have never found your blog unreadable.

When I wrote papers for school, Word usually placed me at a high school level. I think it is primarily that I have a tendency not to explain my thoughts in detail. I rely on the reader to have some knowledge or some background to fill in the blanks. It can lead to some misunderstanding and I think writing so that a level of education is not required, is more effective in communicating your ideas. I know I get a little bummed out at some blogs, where I feel I have to hold on to a dictionary and need a post graduate degree to understand the allusions.

burpster said...

I used the link provided to look at some of the sites I like to read as well as my own. My guess is, it just runs against a database of words? Big words/spelling equal higher results? The programme is pretty much useless on anything other than sites like blogger/wordpress, since it couldn't even see my dedicated Linux server.

Like you I read much that is not always agreeable to me just so I have a point to start at. While the bloggers opinion is important, the commenters are the meat and potatoes. At your site it's apperant your commenters are well educated and well spoken(unlike me). :)

plez... said...

FN,

thanks for the shout out... and i still want plezWorld to be like Field Negro when it grows up! *smile*

there doesn't appear to be much "science" behind that rating widget... so maybe it randomly assigns a ranking, so we'll have something to comment about. hell, if everyone agreed with their ranking, there wouldn't be anything to write about, right?!?

well, that line of reasoning works for me and my Junior High School ranking! *smile*

plez...

Liz said...

I rate at a junior high level. Thank Northwestern and Columbia for that, LOL!

Blinders Off said...

According to the site, my blog reads college undergrad, good to know I am not that irritating to the grammar police in the blogosphere. My youngest daughter is my biggest grammar critic, but I am glad she keeps me on my toes because since I have been living with MS my brain does not operate like it use to. Although, I do not let fear rule my life, I am fearful of totally loosing cognition and going blind with the illness I live with is the main reason I blog, and read other blogs.

field negro said...

"thanks for the shout out... and i still want plezWorld to be like Field Negro when it grows up!"

No you don't, you have a family, you don't want to subject them to the threats and the bullshit. But thanks for the nice words :)

But you are right about not having a rhyme or reason giving us something to talk about.

" I rate at a junior high level. Thank Northwestern and Columbia for that"

LOL! this is what burpster means by educated folks. And burpster,contrary to what you say, you are in that number as well.

hathor I knew you were an educator. Like my man Jose, you have a way of of making the complicated shit plain.

blinders off, you inspire me!

Lola Gets said...

BOOOO@rating system!
Hell, who am I trying to kid? I write for fun!
L

Christopher Chambers said...

As long as folks understand you are a sharp person with a good mind and analyical focus, it's no big damn deal. The more perceptive people realize you got a 9-5 and you're likely banging this stuff out when you can. Some people blog for a living (white folks usually) so they have the luxury of having the Chicago Manual of Style nearby. It's only the morons like the invaders from the wingnut blogs who'll attack you for grammar, thinking we're all nothing but Amos and Andy's anyway, or affirmative action creatures. F&^k them and keep up the good work...

YAZMAR said...

HAY HAY....like the commentary...first time coming thru and definitely wont be my last!!

www.yazmar.com

brotherkomrade said...

I got a college undergrad on mine..oh well.
As for you, FN keep doing what you're doing. It took me months to get up the courage to create my first blog because I thought I would be inarticulate and undereducated to express myself. It took me ten years to get up the courage to go back to school for the same reason.

Jose said...

I got junior high, which is fine because that's what I teach. Hilarious. And yeah, your blogs are tangible, so I don't get how someone would ascertain readability based off a few words here and there anyways. :: shrugs::

Zimbel said...

Francis's site (with recent articles including Student Mobilization Lead by African Americans Challenges Racism in Ithaca, N.Y) apparently is at "Genius" reading level; Groklaw (with recent articles including A New Lawyer on the SCO Team and a Mesirow Supplemental Affidavit - Updated:SCO Asks To Expand Mesirow's Role , on the other hand has a high school reading level.

I don't know about you, but I sure didn't know what the term "Supplemental Affidavit" meant when I was in High School.

Most such algorithms largely use the number of letters per word and the number of words per sentence in a pretty simple equation. It seems that this one is probably over-emphasizing the number of words per sentence. I also suspect that it's poorly aggregating the information (example: only looking at the main page).

Here's another one:

Results for Field-Negro.blogspot.com:
Reading Level Results

Total sentences 1754
Total words 13181
Average words per Sentence 7.51
Words with 1 Syllable 7299
Words with 2 Syllables 2503
Words with 3 Syllables 1199
Words with 4 or more Syllables 2180
Percentage of word with three or more syllables 25.64%
Average Syllables per Word 1.87
Gunning Fog Index 13.26 (Essentially grade level)
Flesch Reading Ease 41.18 (lower is harder)
Flesch-Kincaid Grade 9.38 (Essentially grade level)

For reference against the other two blogs I mention above, FrancisLHolland.Blogspot.com's results are:
Gunning Fog Index 15.84
Flesch Reading Ease 23.25
Flesch-Kincaid Grade 11.84

And www.Groklaw.net's are:
Gunning Fog Index 9.73
Flesch Reading Ease 66.26
Flesch-Kincaid Grade 6.53

So I'd guess that the website you refer to uses an alogrithm that behaves like Gunning Fog (average_words_sentence + number_words_three_syllables_plus) * 0.4). The reporting isn't dissimilar from Gunning Fog, either.

Woozie said...

I appropriated a rating of Genius? This circumstance is highly peculiar, I never once considered myself any variation of genius or any other kind of highly intellectual being. Do you, Grammar Jew?

Lisa said...

Okay, Field, am I the "Lisa" you were talking about??? I couldn't tell cause I didn't get a link like Woozie. . . maybe ol' girl was right, your site is not friendly to women :)

Anyway, I rated Elementary School - what's up with that???

field negro said...

"Okay, Field, am I the "Lisa" you were talking about??? I couldn't tell cause I didn't get a link like Woozie. . . maybe ol' girl was right, your site is not friendly to women :)"

lisa that is you, and just to show you that I am NOT a sexist, I have given you that link :)

woozie, you ARE a grammer genius!

zimbel, I swear I must be one dumb SOB, because I have no idea how that shit works.

yazmar, you are always welcome in the fields.

Chris, bang and move is exactly what I do.I wish I could do this for a living, but the trust fund wasn't that fat, I got bills to pay.

lola, always nice to hear from you. I hope you are holding it down in D.C.

brotherkomrade, your blog is all that, so it was worth the wait.

field negro said...

lisa, I am trying to link you through your comments, but a blog site isn't coming up. Can you help a brotha out and give me your link?

I knew there was a reason I didn't have you linked in my original post.

rikyrah said...

Mirror on America: College (undergrad)

Jack and Jill: College (postgrad)

You do a great job, FN. It's the ideas that you express that keep us coming back for more, because you just punch us in the face, but in a positive way.

Lisa said...

Okay, okay. . . Can't have too much pride with that Elementary school rating, now can I??? Man, that was a gut punch to the ego. . .

http://alisha9.wordpress.com/

chamblee54 said...

I was upset about getting a junior high rating. Then I entered the url of a Jesus Worship blog that banned comments from me. He rated Elementary school.

Marcus said...

On another note thought you'd be interested in knowing that the rapper brother lynch hung has been around for at least 15yrs. He didn't just pop up.

Not that I'm a fan (LOL) or anything I just remember him from back in the day.

Professor Zero said...

This test was fun! I rated high school level. From what I can gather, words like A-merry-ca and Dumb-o-crat (I really like that one!) are considered "hard" by the machine.

BLACKinUSA said...

4 Reals though. This here web site will rate the shit you write, right? Ahh shit! I bet a grammar logical purveyor as myself could boost a mafuckers ratings up in this join'.
Know'em saying.

Bygbaby said...

Surprise surprise, I got a Junior High rating. I don't care, my blog is fun & helps me mentally so t hell with good writing skills.

My readers (10k per month) are feeling me & that is all that matters to me.

BTW, I work at the University of Michigan Health System and as a general rule, they write signs, documents, instructions etc so that a 6th grader can read & understand I forgot the statistical reason.

Bygbaby

Woozie said...

Grammer? What the hell is grammer? Grammar has an "a", Spelling Jew.

field negro said...

"Grammer? What the hell is grammer? Grammar has an "a", Spelling Jew."

See? Now he bangs me on my [spelin] as well:)

"4 Reals though. This here web site will rate the shit you write, right? Ahh shit! I bet a grammar logical purveyor as myself could boost a mafuckers ratings up in this join'.
Know'em saying."

blackinusa, now the "readability test" for this site is really f****d up:)

Zimbel said...

There's a defect in my earlier post; most algorithms (including the referenced ones) are based on the average number of syllables in a word, not the average number of letters in a word (as well as average sentence length)

@Lisa - that means that your blog is accessible to a wider audience. A lower level is typically a good thing.

@Field Negro - Assuming that you recall Algebra, this link has the most major equations written out; this one has references to the rest of the major ones. If you don't recall Algebra, I'd blame your school system, not your intellect. Having been a math T.A. at Drexel University, I can state that some math teachers in Philadelphia should not have been teaching anything; I got many reports of behavior from mathematics teachers that I'd consider abusive - some to the point where the student didn't think that they could do math at all. I had students who entered my course having difficulty with addition, and leaving with an ability to do (simple, 19th century) Calculus.

brotherkomrade said...

Thanks, for the compliment, FN.

guerreiranigeriana said...

ha!...i got an elementary school ranking...but i wouldn't want my elementary aged children looking at my blog!...

...your sidebar (to the right) is amazing and hilarious...especially the fascist news network...what the hell is the meaning of 'brother lynch hung'?...what is that supposed to mean?...

...i love your blogs field negro!!!!...i learn lots!!...keep writing so we can recruit some more to the field...

Mark said...

Hey Field,

I love your blog and thanks for the link. I ran my two blogs through the prgram. My "serious" blog was rated "elementary school" level; while my photo blog was "genius" level. Just goes to show ya, the human brain trumps machines (almost) any day (I don't want to play chess against a computer).

Randi523 said...

My blog, rated Junior High readability level. I guess I do want everyone to be able to understand it, since I do want everyone to be healthy...

www.givealotlosealot.blogspot.com

Anonymous said...

I have no idea what this rating is about, and I have no time to check it out. But, please, let me just say this: good writing is not just about, or even primarily about, proper grammar. Good writing is clear, direct, evocative. Good writing communicates and persuades. And yes there is a difference between good writing and bad, and yes, good writing is worth working toward and yes, everyone can improve. There are rules in every craft, and before one can break them effectively one has to learn them. Nothing wrong with that, with studying or stretching one's vocabulary, or trying to write (and by extension, to think) to a higher level. Please, folks, this country is stupid enough, and getting more stupid by the year.

Lisa said...

Alas, Zimbel, I have regained my self-respect! Now, that's an explanation I can live with. . . one to hold my head up high about. Thanks!

FN - you linked me!!! My faith has been restored in your site :) You don't hate women!!! :)

billspaced said...

Uh-oh, genius level. That's probably why nobody reads my damn blog!

Or, I could just be boring as hell.

Anonymous said...

I like your style and what you have to blog about. I think I would catagorize your writing style as conversational, which is "you write like you talk" I find very refreshing and as they use to say of Malcolm X, "make it plain, brother, make it plain"!!!

THEYCALLMESCOOTERMONK said...

As much as my mother used to (and still does)correct me, you would think that I was a superduper genius or something.

Im college undergrad

Anonymous said...

diction and use of language cannot be measured by the idiot test that measures a reading level of blogs - the test is purely based on quantity and not quality. if you want to talk to the people and get your point across i'd say you have to keep their attention first and knowing how to express yourself is of most importance. take some writing lessons.

Attorneymom said...

So what are you trying to say about us Corporate Attorneys, Negro??? LOL

Mes Deux Cents said...

i just want to know what that rating site is doing with all those url's being fed into it.

Nothing is free.(lol)

That's why I haven't had my blog rated.

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