Readability of Web 2.0 Content

Readability. Authors, marketers and webmasters know that it matters, but as communities form up around niches of similar interest, the requirements of “write like your audience is in 3rd grade” have loosened greatly. I recently came upon a piece of software called “Text Master Pro“. The program analyzes the complexity of vocabulary used in content to determine a UV (readability) score. Despite my usual refusal to use any software with the word “pro” in the title, I fired it up and ran it on the sites listed on 8 different popular web 2.0 sites. I continued to do this with their individual feeds over the course of the week to get an average readability of the content posted to their sites. Here are the results. I also include some examples below of stories on each site and their UV score.

Web 2.0 Site UV Score
* Harry Potter (Sorcerer’s Stone) 890
* USA Today Front Page 1612
* New York Times Front Page 2500
There are a couple of ways to look at this data.

  • While it is unlikely that a group of people would like content ABOVE their reading level, it does not mean that by liking high-level content actually means that they are more intelligent or educated than another group/community that enjoys lower-level reading material
  • The UV Score does indicate quite strongly the complexity of language used. It is interesting to look at the same story on two sites (such as the YouTube entry on the tasered student at a Kerry speech versus the commentary on NewsVine) and see how they are worded.
  • The UV Score does take into account ALL text on a page, not just the article itself. This is important because we are not questioning not just the complexity of the subject matter, but the context in which it is presented as well.

URL & Title UV Score
full screen flash video demo 2500
landscape photos | landscapes with a soul 2500
milk 2500
Average: 2179

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1 Comment

  1. chinat
    Sep 19, 2007

    I do not have the time, nor the inclination, to visit the Text Master Pro website to read up on their, I am sure, excellent software and the way in which it rates content..

    So, perhaps you can enlighten us as to how to read these UV numbers.

    Does a low number indicate ease of reading, and a high number is indicative of a higher level of difficulty. Or is the reverse true?

    As for the examples you have included, I can only conclude that this piece of software rates the difficulty of a text based upon poor grammar. The better the grammar, the higher the score.

    And since you didn’t tell us if a low number is good, or a high number is bad, we really have no idea what the UV number means.

    Editors Note: Forgive me. If I am correct, UV Score is based on the difficulty of language itself, not necessarily poor grammer. The software itself will display a large list of words included in your document that can and ought to be replaced with more simplistic word/phrases. Thats about all I know about it. So, yes, the higher the score, the harder the read.

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