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Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Proof if proof be needed

Following up my post yesterday, Putting on the style: How bloggers write, Martin Weller has carried on where I left off and suggested that blogs are easier to read than formal publications. He compared blog writing and formally peer-reviewed papers for three authors, generating Flesch Reading Ease and Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level scores with FLESH:

AuthorBlog Reading EasePaper reading ease
Conole
50.79
32.48
Weller
63.85
34.82
Cann
59.66
36.8

AuthorBlog Reading levelPaper reading level
Conole
12.19
14.2
Weller
9.47
14.04
Cann
9.02
13.55

From these numbers, it certainly looks as if there is a difference, but what about formal proof? I analyzed these numbers using SPSS v13. The Shapiro-Wilk test suggests that these values can be treated as normally distributed, so I ran a two-way ANOVA test which showed that there is a statistically significant difference between the reading ease and readling level scores for blog writing and formal peer-reviewed papers (F(11,11) = 0.0, p <0.05).
  • How complex or original are the ideas expressed?
  • Is the content in a logical order?
  • Is there is any gender, class or cultural bias?
  • Is the design and layout attractive or distracting - do any graphics help understanding (e.g. graphs)?
  • Is the content and subject matter interesting and engaging to the reader?
  • Who is the reader and do they have sufficient background information to appreciate the information presented?
In other words, readability tests are a dead end which do not tell you how readers will interact with a piece of writing.
Oh well, it was good while it lasted :-)

Writing for friends and family: The interpersonal nature of blogs. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, 13(1), article 7.

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