Clear As Snot

Oh, I had to respond to this.  King Banaian – a college professor – wrote this:

Have you checked his Blog Readability? Go ahead, put the Berg blog in there and see what you get? Yes, Elementary School. Centrisity scores Junior High by comparison. All that pontification, all those twenty-years-ago-today piffle, and for what?

Yeah, what the hey, let’s go ahead and check that out:

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  Hm.  OK.  And SCSU Scholars?

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  Well, there’s a big jump!  Just for kicks, let’s try Powerline, Cap’n Ed and, say, Sheila O’Malley:

Powerline:

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Ed:

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Sheila:

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So let’s get this straight:  Ed and I – the only two members of the NARN who’ve ever I written for non-academic, non-professional audiences (I as a reporter and writing instructor, both of us as technical writers) for a living, who are both trained in writing clearly and precisely (read: simply), along with Sheila, who’s a just-plain-great writer, scored “elementary school” level (i.e., simple and clear enough for pretty much any audience).  King – a capable writer, but mainly an academic – scored “junior high”, meaning more complex, ergo less clear.  In the meantime Powerline – who are lawyers, ergo trained in writing to obfuscate – scored “Post-Grad”. 

There are those who those – along with King – have tried to pass this off as a negative, or even an insult

Baloney.  Self-indulgent, gassy, bloated writing – the stuff my high school writing teacher used to call “EngFish”, because it stank like a rotting fish – is the easiest thing in the world (vide  a whole generation of business writers in this country).  Self-disciplined, simple, clear writing, on the other hand, is a goal to be sought out – among those who pay attention.

Which clearly leaves out economics professors and trial lawyers.

And how about Minnesota Monitor, City Pages and Norwegianity?

 The Mon

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CP?

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The Wege?

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This is getting fun. How about the Mole?

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Good lord, how impenetrable must that be? How about The Dump?

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Huh. 

 Those of us who have the talent and self-discipline to write simply, clearly and directly should be are dang proud of it. 

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11 thoughts on “Clear As Snot

  1. That, or you’ve got rabbit ears, are insecure as hell, and write simplistic drivel so that your Lilliputians don’t get lost.

  2. That, or you’ve got rabbit ears, are insecure as hell, and write simplistic drivel so that your Lilliputians don’t get lost.

    That’s cute, coming from a guy who redefined the word drivel.

  3. Shakespeare said that brevity was the soul of wit. Peev has demonstrated this maxim in the extreme.

  4. That test seems to measure sentence length more than anything else. I visited the Mole site and … meah … no gobsmacking big words or heavily layered reasoning, but I do feel a micro-rant coming…

    PERIODS! YOU GOTTA USE THEM! COMMAS ARE NOT PERIODS!

    Incidentally my home page (which I haven’t updated in … *sigh* years) reads at Junior High level.

  5. Hey Mitch, on the upside you can now ask for a referendum!

    Say yes to:

    — reducing commenter class size
    — keeping technology current (new laptop for you!)
    — maintaining our MOB status of excellence (or “untouchable”)
    — bringing our revenue in line with MN Monitor

    The benefits to our readers, our families and our community are immeasurable!

    Prepared and paid for by the MOB Vote Yes Committee.

  6. Sorry Lassie. Mitch is just going to have to manage his budget better. The lawn signs are going up tomorrow.

  7. Oh sure, Kermit: disperse your misinformation. I suppose you hired a consultant, too. Be a hero. Say yes to the readers.

    Happy Thanksgiving, Mitch and everyone!

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