December 20, 2007

Genius Level... Is it such a bad thing?

In catching up with my Google Reader subscriptions I see a post on Writing Forward about the reading level of one's blog. This little widget allows for a nice bridge into writing for the broadest audience possible. In my infinite curiosity, I went and had this blog analyzed.

cash advanceIs this really a bad thing? Blog author Melissa Donovan seems to think so:
Writers who use big words and fancy phrases will not reach the broadest audience possible, and in fact, will turn many potential readers away. Who wants to expend a whole lot of energy to decipher a short story or understand a blog post? When a writer tries to come off as brilliant by using complex language, the effort usually outshines the material.

Personally I'm not so sure it's a bad thing to exhibit my intelligence. I wouldn't say that I write in a manner that excludes people... I'm pretty sure that anyone I know could chime in and join the conversation. And I don't know many geniuses. So what is it about a post that makes the reading a genius level read? I'm very curious what standards this particular website is using on making that assessment.

Thoughts? Do I need to dumb this down, so to speak?

4 comments:

Rob K said...

I agree with Melissa, to a point. I can always tell when one is using big words to exude a false sense of intelligence. Frankly, it's sad.

I think it's not a matter of showcasing one's intelligence, but rather not making it the point of the blog. Write about what you're writing about in the way you would normally speak, I always say. Blogs are not short stories and so they are written in a different form.

TrishaLyn said...

I agree. I wonder though if one should change how they write a blog if, in fact, they do talk this way. Food for thought for sure.

Melissa said...

Thanks for the mention and the links!

I too wonder what methodology the Readability Test is using to determine the level for each site. Perhaps it's completely random.

While I don't think it's a good idea to "dumb down" your content, it's always advisable for a writer to keep one's audience in mind. We, as writers (and more specifically, as bloggers), have nothing to lose and a lot to gain by writing for as broad an audience as possible.

-Melissa Donovan
Writing Forward

James Chartrand - Web Content Writer Tips said...

*growl* My browser just ate my comment.

Rather than type it all out again, go see how I felt when I noticed our blog reads at elementary school levels.