Do You Test for Readability?

Testing for readability is one of the marks of professionalism.

Maybe I’m just on my soapbox again, but one of the problems I see increasingly these days is serious errors in grammar spelling, and punctuation.  I am not a perfectionist, and my writing is not always perfect either.  But some of the web content these days just gives me a headache!

  • Things like:
    • “Always you should stop not you are doing what and think of more it.”
    • “Do want you to more than a man…”
    • “Safe fails not on to  time…”

OK, to be fair, I realize not everyone is native to the English language.  Especially as spoken here in the US.  And NO, I don’t think we are superior to the rest of the world here, or that we are somehow special and should be treated as such.

My contention is; don’t try to create content in English unless you are a native of an English speaking country, or you are VERY fluent in our language.  That’s the reason why I don’t create content for Mandarin Chinese readers, or for those who speak Pashto, etc.  I would sound like a fool even with the best translation programs.



What difference does it make?

  1. Probably none if you are just blogging your thoughts for a few people like friends and family to read.
  2. Somewhat important if you would like to get your ideas across clearly and concisely.
  3. Critically important if you want to be taken seriously.


What to do?

There are any number of free tools online that you can use to improve your writing skills.

  1. Grammarly.com  Everyone should be using at least the free version of this app.  And if you invite friends and contacts to try the Grammarly app, you can even get access to the upgraded version.
  2. Readability WebpageFx provides a very handy tool for checking the readability of your text. You can either enter the url of an article you have already published, someone else has published (for comparison to your own writing) or you can copy and paste the text you want to check directly into the entry field of the website.
  3. WordWeb  Wordweb provides a “one-click English Dictionary and Thesaurus for Windows.  Dictionary apps for mobiles, tablets and Mac desktop.”  I find this handy little app extremely helpful, especially when I get stuck for a word.

There are plenty of other free resources.  These are my favorites.  Remember, if you want to be taken seriously, you have to communicate well.

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Continued Relevance

There is a great post from 2010 that demonstrates the strength of Social Media in building your online presence.  Written 7 years ago by my friend Chuck Bartok it is as relevant today as it was then, if not more so.

Read it at:

http://youcanbuild.it/social-media-is-buzzing

Future of the Workplace?

With all the articles on driverless cars, and workplace automation, you have to wonder, what exactly is behind the emerging technologies.

Here are a couple of examples:

  • Bloomberg
    • cites: “… efforts to replace human drivers, the biggest cost in its on-demand taxi service.”
  • Asia – Nikkei  
    • blames a growing economy and aging population

One article I came across on the net indicated that one of the factors behind the push is  a growing population of travelers who no longer care about the ‘joys of driving.’  Dinosaur that I am, I am still trying to get my head around that one.  But it makes sense when I see today’s youth literally wired into their smart phones, unable to remove their attention for even a minute, but deep down I feel there is more to the story.

One thing has remained true throughout the course of human history.  If you want to find the root cause of a thing, ‘follow the money.’

Driverless Cars

I believe there are more factors at play of course, but when/if autonomous vehicle symptoms are perfected, and all the details ironed out, accident rates should fall to near zero.  I hope I am proven wrong, but I simply cannot visualize the automobile insurers just disappearing.  Rates could conceivably be reduced, as an added incentive to invest in autonomous technology, but I don’t feel they will ever disappear.

But imagine how the profit margins of insurance companies will soar, as accident numbers plummet, and rates stay at or near the same.

Workplace Automation.

The same with workplace automation.  Although robotic technology is expected to remain expensive in the near future, costs will eventually decrease due to growing market competition.  Even with maintenance and upgrades, over a 10 year lifespan, an investment in the workplace automation will definitely cost less than a human employee with wages and benefits.  Rising healthcare costs and changes in health insurance are also a contributing factor.

My take on all this?

Point #1) Once again it’s really all about the money.  Behind every Mega-Corp are people.  Wealthy people.  People who became wealthy by using every advantage possible, ethical or not.  No matter who gets hurt.

Point #2  High-Quality Content Creation is going to be increasingly one of the few fields where a person can continue to grow.  Sure, so-called ‘Artificial Intelligence’ may someday replace human content creation, but at present nothing has been revealed to indicate that it will be anytime soon.

 

Wordy WordPress?

What are your most read posts?

My recent personal testing seems to indicate that often short posts are more effective in some areas.  Especially if media like photos or video is included.  Seems like 400 words or less are the best.

When I get wound up, I usually write about 1200 – 1500 words.  I notice these posts usually get fewer interactions, although that also depends on the quality of writing I do, and how effective the headline is.

I would appreciate hearing your thoughts!

Cheers!

#Hashtags and Blog Posts

Hashtags are useful on Social Media, but can you use them for Blog Posts?

I have recently experimented with a couple of posts just to see what would happen If I included hashtags in the body of a post.  It’s probably too soon to know how this has affected the visibility of each post, but there is another side to this.

If you have your WP blog set to automatically post to your FaceBook or other social media site account every time you post, you can then go over to your FB or Twitter, Instagram, etc. account and add the hashtags later.

I would be interested to know what kind of results anyone else has experienced.

Cheers!

Words, Words, & More Words

Call me old fashioned if you will, but I still like to use a nifty little writing helper called WordWeb.

Part of WordWeb’s beauty is in its simplicity, and ease of use.  It lurks quietly in the background at the bottom of your screen until you get stumped for a word or phrase.  Then it’s immediately on call with helpful sources like a built-in dictionary, thesaurus, Wikipedia, Wiktionary, etc..

I use it a lot when I get stumped for a word, phrase, or idea.

Cheers!

Psychotic Sources

Yesterday I mentioned a technique I use when I have writer’s block.  I fall back on my passion, the one subject I can think about and analyze at any time.

For me, It’s Depression.  Depression has been the ‘elephant in the corner of the room’ since I was 9 years old.  That little secret that you hope no one notices until finally, you realize it’s part of who you are, and must be dealt with.

Recently I’ve been using a couple of sources more, and more.  Since nearly everyone either has issues they struggle with or has a friend who is struggling, I will list my sources here.


Dr. Perry Phd. 

Dr Perry is well read, articulate, and very straightforward.  His articles are well worth reading.


Psych Central

Psych Central has a very good forum, lot’s of innovative personality tests, and can even put someone in touch with a professional in their area.


180 rule

180Rule is a very thought-provoking site.  Written by an individual using the psuedonym’Skylar”.  (The name Skylar is Dutch and means “guarded scholar” or “protection through knowledge)  Having experienced the trauma of a significant other with severe personality disorders, Skylar has researched and written many articles about Rene Girard’s Mimetic Theory.  The goal is to stop episodes of abuse in victims’ lives and prevent the cycles of abuse from being passed to the generations who follow.  For more about Rene Girard see: http://180rule.com/rene-girards-mimetic-theory-the-scapegoat/