Friday, December 17, 2010

Reading level of science blogs

Search engines were not created equal. Google became a dominant brand, largely because of its ability to find the most relevant pages for given keywords.

One of the abilities of this search engine is to see that science blogs were not created equal, either; Google can divide the websites according to the reading level. I have no idea whether this rating is done automatically or whether it is based on some human input.

As Jorge Pullin has recommended me, go to and type something like
to the search box. Right beneath the "Search" button, you may find "Advanced Search". Click at it and you will get to this page. In my case, I had to replace "hl=cs" by "hl=en" in the URL because the Czech advanced search options don't include the reading level.

Under "Need more tools?", select "Annotate..." in the "Reading level". Then click at the "Advanced Search" button at the very bottom. This will tell you the percentage of "basic", "intermediate", and "advanced" paragraphs on the website. Take 30+1 of the science blogs you know and compute the average score.

"Basic" is counted as 1 star, "intermediate" is counted as 3 stars, "advanced" is counted as 5 stars. Compute the average. What will you get?

Well, here are some results. For your convenience, I added God and idealized bullshit.

I hope that you can recognize some of the acronyms.

Of course, God's website was added above TRF in order to emphasize that I am a humble correspondent. ;-)

On the opposite end, CapitalistImperialistPig of New Mexico, William Connolley of Stoat, Clifford Johnson of Asymptotia (sorry! Google thinks that cooking is not advanced), Phil Plait of Bad Astronomy, and especially P.Z. Myers of Pharyngula reside at the very bottom, right above the idealized bullshit that was added for a similar reason as God. Congratulations, P.Z. Myers: in a completely fair world, the last two contestants would be reversed or at least tied. :-)

More seriously, you may use the table to find other blogs you may like. After TRF, you see the arXiv blog, Tommaso Dorigo's new blog, and Chris Colose's alarmist blog which is largely defunct now.


  1. So, a bunch more ranking lists come to mind: universities/.edu, various .gov domains, etc. Could be fun for someone with too much time to construct a MMA demo to do so.

  2. It's comforting to know that TRF is next to God along with cleanliness, Lubos.

  3. 4.39? You need to step it up a bit. My blog is at 4.44 and I don't even think that is all that impressive.

  4. Thanks, Gene! Please don't view my God comments as a heresy. ;-)

    Congratulations, John. And when your Alexa rank will be significantly above the rank 8 million which it is now, so that your blog is not just an assorted collection of technicalities no one cares about, you may return once again and I will congratulate you again, more sincerely. ;-)