Well, I just stumbled across an article outlining how to tweak Google search in order to find out the readability of your blog.
Here are the steps:
- Go to Google.com (obviously!).
- Click on Advanced Search which is located to the right of the search input box.
- When the customization page opens, go down to where it says Reading Level. By default, it says “no reading level displayed”.
- Click on the drop down list and select: “annotate results with reading levels”
- Go further down, to where it says: “search within a site or a domain” and key in the domain of your blog (in my case scepticemia.com)
- Click on Advance Search.
Look how my blog fares:
Most publications geared towards blogging about scientific issues aims to bring it to the average lay person, who may not be comfortable with the jargon one often associates with “hard” science. The more the usage of jargon in a blog, the higher its reading level goes. This is somewhat similar to the Flesch-Kincaid Reading level metrics that are embedded in MS Word. Now, whilst this seems very intriguing on the surface, there are a lot of other considerations to be taken into the equation:
- With blogs, there is an element of interaction, and hence, that might falsely bring down the reading level to the intermediate standard. Whether this screens the comments section, I have no idea, but considering the fact that this is a global search on the said domain, I believe the comments are factored in.
- Whether or not the non-blog texts (like static pages, widgets, advertisements, runs of HTML etc.) are considered is not known. These, again, would serve as false noise, which would bring down the reading levels.
- In my blog, there are lots of non-science posts. Plenty of posts which are just runs of personal rants or bouts of link love being shared, which, for the most parts, have little to do with the scientific posts.
All said and done, I believe that these factors are but minor players. It may cause an error, but not as large as to overshadow the general focus of a blog. With mine, an Intermediate rating is acceptable. In fact, I think that it is a good thing, because it means that unlike most doctors, I tend NOT to write big, jargon-ey words, and instead am able to communicate through colloquial, everyday language.
And science should be about simplifying the whole process. It is not good scientific communication if one uses too much jargon and “hard” words to explain “hard” science. So, take a look at the science posts in my blog (try the category of research blogging from the sidebar). Read them. Tell me what you think: do you think they merit the intermediate badge or am I yet another doc who is in love with big, heavy words”? And where does your blog stand in this measure?