Monday, August 27, 2012

Blogging to middle school level readers

Please, no gnashing of teeth over this, but most SBC bloggers write at a level suitable for middle school kids.

There are numerous sites for analyzing writing and one that I have checked reveals that most of the popular SBC bloggers generally offer a level of writing on the level of seventh to ninth graders.

Here's a sampling:

SBC Voices: Since they have a number of contributors, the level varies but generally 7th-8th grade with an occasional dip to as low as fifth grade and one contributor that hits high school level.

SBC Today: Egad, ranges from as low as third grade level to an occasional foray into the college grad school level.

Popular individual SBC bloggers: Oh, generally seventh and eighth grade levels, even ex-lawyers.

SBC entity heads: Ranges from 11th grade down to eighth. Seminary presidents generally write at a higher level for which, since we pour a lot of dollars into the schools, I am grateful.

Moderates: Uh oh, the low is around 8th grade and most are 10th and 11th, a bit higher than we conservatives. I'm looking for an elitism and condescension scale to apply to moderates but haven't found one and just have to go with general perceptions. To be fair, I am also in a search for a strutting scale to apply to prominent SBCers and haven't found one of those either.

SBC Plodder: Your humble hacker and plodder generally hits eighth grade through college. If I worked at it I could probably write at a very high level with an elevated obsfucation index which might be a good plan because people would be generally impressed without knowing why. I think I will try an article this week with every obscure polysyllabic word I can think of.

Calvinists: As one might expect, preschool level...just kidding. The more prominent Calvinists are about the same as normal people.

Strident anti-Calvinists: Normal to low.

William Faulkner: Just about off the scale, near incomprehensible, which is why all students cheat and lie about reading his stuff. I find no budding Faulkners among SBC bloggers although I do find a few who write incomprehensibly.

Herman Melville, Moby Dick: Seventh grade...and if it were not a couple of thousand pages long, I would have read the lengthy tome in the seventh grade.

This blog article: About sixth grade but, remember, I have to think about my dear readers and be considerate of them.

Have a good week.


Tim Dahl said...

I've always been told, therefore assumed it was true, that most people read on a 5th - 6th grade level. That is why (supposedly) newspapers print/write at that level.

Again, this is one of those things I was told thru college and seminary.

Assuming it's true (and it may not be), couldn't that make the blogs w/ lower reading levels the most appropriate of them all?


William Thornton said...

It's a fun thing, Tim, and with a number of variables, I don't put a whole lot of stock in the analysis.

I agree that writing to be understood is generally a good thing.

case.jess said...

I'd be interested in an analysis that used all of these categories, but substituted "preaching" for "blogging."

Do you think you could pull that one off without starting a scurfluffle of sorts?

I would also be curious to understand how "levels of reading" are determined. I think it is generally true that the Bible effects the contact between speaker and listeners much more through the imagination than through the intellect. Would judging "reading levels" take this into account in preaching/blogging?

Jesus probably taught at a 3rd grade reading level. Probably. And the ones who spent the most time with him still lacked proper understanding. It wasn't until he died that their eyes were opened. Perhaps we could all benefit from more bloggers/preachers being "humbled unto death." I think most 3rd graders could understand that.

William Thornton said...

I am not being as serious as you on this but did a couple of NT passages. Luke was 10th or so and John was 5th grade or so.

case.jess said...

I'm not all that serious, nor am I wanting to pick apart your analysis of the reading levels present in the GNT, assuming you analyzed the Greek New Testament and not an English translation.

I would be more telling to analyze the reading levels of the comments. This would give you a better understanding of who these bloggers are attracting to their sites and why these commentors feel at home on the blogs where they comment.

It is a shame there isn't a copy/paste way to succinctly analyze the logic of any given blog post. There's not an app for that!

William Thornton said...

I used the NIV just to see if the well-known difference between John's greek and Luke's would show up in an english translation. It clearly did probably because some of the parameters in the analytical tool carried over from greek to english.

I checked a couple of commenters but the comments are so short I doubt it is valid.

Your comments, for example, are about fourth grade, certainly not representative of your keen insights, expansive vocabularly and verbal sophistication...;)

See what I mean? (and remember, it's just for fun)

case.jess said...

"...and remember, it's just for fun."

As a fan of the Kansas City Royals and Kansas City Chiefs, I've been telling myself the same thing for years.