What Grade is Your Content Comprehension?

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Very good article. I guess I'm a game snob then, as I only typically enjoy Western RPGs. Personally, I need a good story to draw me in. Not explosions and swimming pools filled with blood. Although, if you can work either of those into a good story, I can't complain. You know, I don't think I ever thought about ZP as college-level humor. Makes you think. About force-feedback codpieces, anyway.

Archon:

The other inputs that affect the value of content are, in my opinion, its timeliness and its subject matter. And by "value of content" let's define that to mean "the aggregate of the subjective values of those who consume the content".

As an example of timeliness, consider the fate of the musical "Chess", about cold war tensions played out over chess matches, which unfortunately launched at the END of the cold war. Contrast that to "Twilight", which had the good fortune of being published just as a cadre of newly-teenage girls was ready for something to replace Harry Potter as their summer reading. In short, people can find the same content more or less valuable at different times depending on what's going on in their lives and the world around them.

I would submit timelessness may be a more worthy litmus test in helping to determine inherent value of a work. Look at a musical like "The Phantom of the Opera" for instance. Hovering at a musical comprehension level of probably 6th or 7th grade and with subject matter that is as worn and trite as can be, the musical still hangs on as the longest running musical on Broadway. We're nowhere near Paris or the 1800s, nor was the musical a commentary on anything in particular back in the 1980s when it came out. Still, it endures. Same deal, going back further, with "Oklahoma." Their biggest fans are most likely your Populist Boors, but that's a separate die, in keeping with my analogy. "Twilight" will (hopefully!) dissipate within a few years, but I would wager that "Harry Potter" possesses more staying power specifically because it was nottargeted at that one particular group.

Timeliness, in my opinion, will help to ascertain a work's immediate career, while timelessness speaks to overall value: works that succeed in the test of time prove their worth.

Thoughts?

I think people read this and got a little carried away with trying to have the highest score of comprehension. But its to be expected, we are GAMERS we always have the highest score, it's what we do. =P

More importantly people who read this should try to understand that this article is about a sociological mechanic. This isn't a time when having the highest or lowest score is necessarily a bad thing. Everybody has a comprehension, and what the author is trying to show here is how and why content like film, music, and games are developed. Not that people with a higher comprehension are better than people with a lower comprehension, just that they are different and are valued by creators and producers as such.

I thought that the "dig" at Kotaku was very funny, but it also made for a pretty good test about how people interpreted the article.

Cool article, man. Very enjoyable read.

HollywoodH17 - Great thought. I didn't even see the timelessness criteria even as I was spewing forth commentary on timeliness. Rock on.

Bakonslayer - The Kotaku comment was a quite good litmus test, but I can't claim it was planned that way. At the time I just thought it was really funny, given the love/hate relationship we have with them.

Hurr Durr Derp:
But... what if I'm a toilet humor snob?

Is there even such a thing as a 14th level poop joke?

As a nurse I can assure you there are.

Examples: "I first thought I was assessing a chest radiographic film of a patient with atelectesis. Actually that is a megacolon!" (14.00, 14th grade ?!)
"Somebody screwed during the gastrojejunostomy procedure. There is intestinal content coming through the pleural drainage!" (13.67, 14th grade?!)
"The guy just had a colectomy with ileoanal anastomosis! Any volunteer to inform him he will be toilet dependent from now on?!" (13.49, 14th grade)

There you go, if my calculations are right.

OP: Appreciation as in liaise, understand and be able to criticize constructively I agree it depends on the grade of content comprehension of each person. Enjoy it will still depend on the person's taste and/or in the case of humour if the person thinks the subject used is appropriate to make fun of.

I think also that achieving higher grades of comprehension does not necessarily means you wont enjoy things with much lower grades (maybe not all, I hate Idol, but then again its probably a matter of taste) as you have what it takes to understand not just a X grade but all from 1st to X grade. For example, if you go to the cinema to watch a Disney or Pixar animated movie, as an adult, you will probably laugh both of the child aimed jokes, but also of the adult aimed innuendos.

Last, those reading scores can work in english, but what about other languages?! Portuguese as lots of long words even in textbooks for 1st grade children.

This article has gone new lengths to letting me understand why Arrested Development was such a flop. I'd love to see the Gunning-Fog index for the average television show.

Nice article indeed!

Some people can comprehend only the lower levels - those would be the sheep.
Some people can bring themselves to absorb only the higher levels - those would be the snobs.

But in the end both extremes have serious problems in how they exclude themselves as well as what things they wind up absorbing. The sheep don't want to even try to comprehend the higher levels, because it's 'too hard' or it would take too much of their time. And the snobs don't want to even try to absorb some of the lower level peices, EVEN if those peices might contain hidden content or wisdom that is in fact ON PAR with what the snobs usually read, if not even better! (for after all - brevity is more than just the soul of wit).

Really, I like all kinds of medium of varying comprehension levels. Because my enjoyment of the higher levels allows me to get the maximum enjoyment out of any artistic peice (including several of the supposed low readibility mediums, like cartoons) whilst my enjoyment of the lower levels keeps my cynicism and elitist feelings well in check.

I just wish more people would figure this out rather than keep being snobs or sheep. Granted, having said that, in the end you still need to make up your mind. Some works of art really are just mainstream garbage on the spectrum of the lower levels, just like some works of art really are just pretentious philosophical logic babble that really don't say anything in the end and wind up trying to be something that it fails so hard at being.

But as always, a person needs to stop belonging to the snob or the sheep clique and do the hardest thing of all. Make a choice wether or not they really want to get the most out of a certain work of art or not. And think carefully on why not. Is it because you genuinely doubt it's something that would interest you and you alas don't have the time/energy to give it a solid chance, or is it just because it's 'too mainstream' or 'too indie' or 'too bullshit' or whatever other excuse most of the audience makes up for itself.

In the end, it really is once again about making a conscious choice rather than just taking the easy path and reach for your own mental excuses.

wow, this article pleases me immensely in that I did read The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, and absolutely loved the style of its prose.

Well, now I feel smart for understanding the jokes in Zero Punctuation. How is this all calculated? Does just knowing what a Dystopian Future is really put me at grade 14?

Hm. Well, the little red line under "Dystopian" seems to show that even spellcheck doesn't understand the word. Maybe I AM smarter than I thought.

Well, that is rubbish! I refuse to even read this article unless you use longer words lest you neglect to increase your vernacular amplitude!

The trend for aiming for higher readability shouldn't be necessarily attributed to "dumbing down." In many cases it means cutting down on jargon or phrases that need more overhead to unpack for readers less familiar the topic/field of discussion.

I mean, hitting up a 4chan thread or reading through tvtropes I miss out on the memes and catchphrases I haven't been exposed to previously. Essentially if you write for a broad audience then don't rely solely on injokes or specialized jargon.

I think the main point of this readability research is that writers should be conscious of who they are writing for and why they are writing. While it's nice to be able to wax eloquent about stuff with the increased specificity that a more erudite vocabulary grants you, it's more important that you retain your audience's interest. Comprehension is just a necessary component of interest. The heart of writing is communicating, yes different words give different shades of meaning to concepts, but writing is distilling what you know or think into what people want to digest.

That and people complaining about media dumbing down stuff are likely welcome to look up the original journal article, legal document, economic reports, etc. from which the story extends.

I actually wrote a paper about alzhimer's disease for a college class.

"Alzheimer's disease (AD), also called Alzheimer disease, Senile Dementia of the Alzheimer Type (SDAT) or simply Alzheimer's, is the most common form of dementia. This incurable, degenerative and terminal disease was first described by German psychiatrist Alois Alzheimer in 1906. Generally it is diagnosed in people over 65 years of age. An estimated 26.6 million people worldwide had Alzheimer's in 2006; this number may quadruple by 2050. (Heim)
Although each sufferer experiences Alzheimer's in a unique way, there are many common symptoms. The earliest observable symptoms are often mistakenly thought to be 'age-related' concerns, or manifestations of stress. In the early stages, the most commonly recognized symptom is memory loss, such as difficulty in remembering recently learned facts. When a doctor or physician has been notified, and AD is suspected, the diagnosis is usually confirmed with behavioral assessments and cognitive tests, often followed by a brain scan if available."

Scoring Metrics
Number of characters: 994
Number of words: 151
Number of sentences: 6
Average words per sentence: 25.17
Flesch Score: 12.09
Flesch Grade: 18 : Beyond Twelfth Grade reading level
Automated Readability Index: 22 : Beyond Twelfth Grade reading level
Coleman-Liau Index: 25 : Beyond Twelfth Grade reading level
Gunning-Fog Index: 43 : Beyond Twelfth Grade reading level

I wrote this; guess I'm pretty smart, eh? as far as readablity is concerned,it depends on the situation. If I was writing for the public, I would have aimed for a higher score(easier score). This was going to an educated person, I made it complex and snobby to appear smart. However, it wasn't a science class either, so this is first draft shit which I still got an A.

Edit: im surprised that ZP scored so high, I thought it would have been 9th grade tops.

I haven't much time at the moment to make a large comment.

I hope that the Escapist continues to juxtapose high and low. At the best of times they are never terribly far apart.

J03bot:
It is also astounding how easily an article like this one really brings out the more obscure parts of escapists' vocabulary.

Or, basically, how we all start using less common words coupled with a more complex sentence structure in a bid to appear more intelligent, or possibly merely to show off.

I noticed that too. Though I don't think it's for either of those reasons (not in all cases anyway). I think that the fact that people are reading sentences with better structure and more advanced vocabulary is enough to make them start writing complete sentences.
I'm fairly certain that I write like this all the time, but the fact that I'm writing an answer to a well constructed comment brings me to think out my wording a little more.

OT: A very interesting and well written article. I'll definitely be reading the Publisher's Note more often

dls182:

J03bot:
It is also astounding how easily an article like this one really brings out the more obscure parts of escapists' vocabulary.

Or, basically, how we all start using less common words coupled with a more complex sentence structure in a bid to appear more intelligent, or possibly merely to show off.

I noticed that too. Though I don't think it's for either of those reasons (not in all cases anyway). I think that the fact that people are reading sentences with better structure and more advanced vocabulary is enough to make them start writing complete sentences.
I'm fairly certain that I write like this all the time, but the fact that I'm writing an answer to a well constructed comment brings me to think out my wording a little more.

OT: A very interesting and well written article. I'll definitely be reading the Publisher's Note more often

I always write in complete sentences! I simply use a different selection of words modulate my vocabulary somewhat depending on the content of the rest of the thread...

Whoa whoa whoa, hold on. How the heck does that scale work, if Zero Punctuationis that high? Because it uses big words alog with pictures?

The trouble with having a certain level of comprehension is that most of the time you're not aware of your talents when you don't encounter any limits. In other words: if you've never had any problems with reading comprehension it's hard to imagine what the 'levels' are. Of course you'll probably be able to make the distinction between Police Academy and... um... let's say 2001 A Space Odyssey (which is a masterpiece and I hereby cordially invite anyone who disagrees with me to a round of fisticuffs) but I personally can't for the life of me predict what kind of language would be considered 'too advanced' for an audience to comprehend.

This is an interesting question to me because of personal academic experience. That is, whenever I focus all my energies on an essay and construct every sentence with the utmost care until I feel genuinely satisfied with my work, I get a barely passing grade and feedback usually along the lines of "obtuse language" or "vague". On the other side I have on many occasions felt ashamed for essays because I felt they were so terrible. On those occasions I've frequently gotten excellent results (though not consistently; don't use my anecdote as an excuse to slack off kids! Get off this forum and get to fucking work!)

That said: any ideas on where to find a ratings system for content level? Maybe like a program so I can run my papers through it before I submit 'em? :D

Hey guys - there a ton of free content rating systems available online - just google "flesch readability" or "gunning fog" and you'll have a bunch to choose from. Each method gives slightly different scores but usually within a point or two of each other.

Cheers :)

Well, what a funny ending to quite an interesting article - I meant the question for the reader, of course, the one about grading oneself as a smartie or not-so-smartie. To me it seems like a quite vital ending to an article which might otherwise be considered as too snobbish itself and even offending to some of the audience here at the escapist (despite which, as I've noticed, often likes to glare about "how intelligent all our readers are"). So, a quick turn of tone was in order as to not be too cruel for the more simple-minded (as, to be honest, I think are we all).

I also think that the first few posts nicely show what kinds of posts were to be expected. Nobody wants to be a fool, yet everybody wants to shine.

Edit: oh, nice, just after posting I notice the date of the article. Typical.

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