[Wikimedia-l] making tech journalism easier to read

Oliver Keyes okeyes at wikimedia.org
Tue May 21 10:48:44 UTC 2013

Slightly off-topic, but I would recommend using the SMOG Index rather than
FKT - there's some academic work done that indicates FKT actually
/underestimates/ the reading difficulty of a sentence. And, of course, it
is difficult for the results to be transparent to people outside the United

On 21 May 2013 09:47, Florence Devouard <anthere9 at yahoo.com> wrote:

> On 5/21/13 5:45 AM, Sumana Harihareswara wrote:
>> When you're trying to write a blog.wikimedia.org entry or
>> wikitech-ambassadors email about a technical topic, but you want to make
>> sure nontechnical Wikimedians can read it, is there an automated check
>> you can run through?
> <I can not help making that comment given the topic of your email, sorry>
> I read this sentence at least 4 times, trying to figure out what you meant.
> At first sight, I thought some words were missing (when... but... >>>
> usually, a "when" is followed by a "then" not by a "but").
> Then I realized that the "but" part was to be read as an additional
> comment and that what matters was actually "when" followed by a question. I
> then thought "is that a question to us" ? At second sight, it actually
> looks to be a question to us. I started thinking "what is meant by
> automated check" ???
> I thought the next paragraph would bring some light on what you meant by
> "automated check" so that it would become possible to answer your question
> (just wanted to help...)
> Last, I realize that the question was actually meant from you, to us. But
> was supposed to be a point we were actually wondering about. And that your
> email was actually an answer to this prospective question (in case we might
> wonder). The question was not a question.
> Actually the rest of the explanation uses only one expression that are
> unknown to me ("whip up a script") but I am happy to say I understood the
> general meaning. Still, I would suggest avoid weird sentences such as
> "when... but... is there ?". Be straight to the point.
> For information, the grade of your email is : Average Grade Level       8.7
> (yeah !)
> Which is good on the paper (sort of paper). But still was hard to
> understand. I am still not quite sure what the goal of your email exactly
> was :(
> But I loved the link to http://www.readability-score.**com/<http://www.readability-score.com/>:)
> Flo
> My own grade is 5.9...
>  For general readability we have http://www.readability-score.**com/<http://www.readability-score.com/>to
>> check, for example, the Flesch-Kincaid reading ease.  My blog entry
>> https://blog.wikimedia.org/**2013/02/05/how-the-technical-**
>> operations-team-stops-**problems-in-their-tracks/<https://blog.wikimedia.org/2013/02/05/how-the-technical-operations-team-stops-problems-in-their-tracks/>
>> has a grade level of 11.5, meaning that it would be difficult for
>> someone to read it unless they had about as much English fluency as an
>> average US student in their last year of pre-college schooling.  In the
>> future I will probably aim more for a grade level of 10 or so; we have a
>> lot of non-native English speakers in our community.  I think it's too
>> difficult to rewrite everything in Up-Goer 5 http://splasho.com/upgoer5/
>> or Simple English Wikipedia style, even for regular-person-friendly blog
>> entries about WMF Engineering,[0] but I am willing to be told if I am
>> wrong.
>> Aside from general readability, I also want to be careful about using
>> jargon, and substitute more accessible terminology where possible. I may
>> whip up a script to check whether some text has words from
>> https://meta.wikimedia.org/**wiki/Glossary<https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Glossary>and the other site glossaries
>> in it, unless someone has a better idea.
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Oliver Keyes
Community Liaison, Product Development
Wikimedia Foundation

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