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'Reading Level' Filter Added To Google Search

timothy posted more than 3 years ago | from the 6th-grade-is-a-good-place-to-stop dept.

Google 266

entotre writes "A new feature has been added to the advanced Google search: reading level. From the blog post: 'The feature lets you filter or annotate the search results by reading level. The reading levels include basic, intermediate and advanced. You can either have Google label or annotate the results with those labels, only show basic results, only show intermediate results or only show advanced results.' At the time of writing, Slashdot is 1 % advanced, 64 % intermediate and 34 % basic."

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266 comments

f1r5t p05t! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34582624)

f1r5t p05t!

Dum da dum dum!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34583048)

The low rating really reflects the number of ignorant 4chan high schoolers and CS majors that post flamebait to this site.

But... (5, Insightful)

Kev92486 (1187107) | more than 3 years ago | (#34582626)

How am I supposed to choose the correct filter when I don't know what the word "intermediate" means?!

Re:But... (4, Insightful)

TheWarp (1903628) | more than 3 years ago | (#34582658)

Perhaps Google should set it on basic by default. It's not like people would notice the internet getting any dumber.

Re:But... (1)

gstoddart (321705) | more than 3 years ago | (#34583552)

Perhaps Google should set it on basic by default. It's not like people would notice the internet getting any dumber.

You might be surprised.

Re:But... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34582764)

You could try out intermediate and see if it's too advanced, too simple, or just right. If that's too hard for you, then you should just set it to basic. ;)

Re:But... (5, Interesting)

mysidia (191772) | more than 3 years ago | (#34583056)

How am I supposed to choose the correct filter when I don't know what the word "intermediate" means?!

I assume this act of Google means reading level will soon be influencing page rank, results sorting, and more basic documents will begin to appear first

No problem. Stories will be at the top. The top ones will explain what intermediate is

Website operators will have to act. To keep their top spot.

Writers will need to make their sites basic.

Advanced grammar will go away.

Compound sentences will be banned.

Most pronouns will be banned.

Most contractions will be banned.

Making lists of things in one sentence will be banned.

Pages that do banned things will be hard to find.

Re:But... (1)

Korin43 (881732) | more than 3 years ago | (#34583254)

There's nothing wrong with basic grammar. It might not be as fun to read, but more people can understand it. Also, some people will likely be interested in "advanced" or "intermediate" sites, so sites catering to a smarter audience will have to be written better.

Re:But... (4, Interesting)

noidentity (188756) | more than 3 years ago | (#34583096)

This seems to be a useful junk filter. Do your search normally. If you get too much spam, try restricting to intermediate or advanced. I'm going to be using this all the time now.

Re:But... (2)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 3 years ago | (#34583150)

Judging from the Google results it has something to do with some sexual practice I didn't WANT to know about!

Re:But... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34583152)

Maybe they should rename the levels to h4x0r, Normies and txt.

Re:But... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34583198)

If only there was some way you could find out the meaning, some way to search for it...

Re:But... (1)

Isaac Remuant (1891806) | more than 3 years ago | (#34583526)

Basic people don't know about advanced search... They will NEVER use a feature unless it's systematically forced upon them.

Niggers! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34582628)

So the thug niggers will be in the lower 34% category. Awww yeah.

Re:Niggers! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34583434)

no, real-niggers don't really use internet, this is just for disney-niggers since its only available in the US. The same as yellow-niggers will get the 1%, as in IRL amirite?

w00t (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34582632)

First post! Basic++

Vegeta, what does the scouter say.... (0, Offtopic)

jappleng (1805148) | more than 3 years ago | (#34582648)

[insert obvious dragon ball joke here]

Re:Vegeta, what does the scouter say.... (0, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34582774)

It's over 9000!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Simple English Wikipedia (2)

MaxOfS2D (1907678) | more than 3 years ago | (#34582664)

http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&lr=&safe=images&tbs=rl%3A1&q=site%3Asimple.wikipedia.org&aq=f&aqi=&aql=&oq=&gs_rfai= [google.com] Basic 28% Intermediate 55% Advanced 16% I think someone didn't live up to his claims!

Re:Simple English Wikipedia (4, Interesting)

The Archon V2.0 (782634) | more than 3 years ago | (#34582738)

http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&lr=&safe=images&tbs=rl%3A1&q=site%3Asimple.wikipedia.org&aq=f&aqi=&aql=&oq=&gs_rfai= [google.com] Basic 28% Intermediate 55% Advanced 16% I think someone didn't live up to his claims!

My word, if you made it any simpler you'd be down to words of three letters or less.

(Tries it on own site.)

100% BASIC?!? Oh, hell no. You don't use words like "beset" in basic writing.

I do hereby put on my smartypants crown and declare this b0rken.

Re:Simple English Wikipedia (1)

Johann Lau (1040920) | more than 3 years ago | (#34583036)

I do hereby put on my smartypants crown and declare this b0rken.

Yeah... my own site comes up as 100% intermediate.

Re:Simple English Wikipedia (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34583040)

Given that this site [pennylaneorganics.com] is apparently 50% advanced [google.com] , I'd tend to agree that their search dealy is completely fucking broken.

Re:Simple English Wikipedia (5, Funny)

camperdave (969942) | more than 3 years ago | (#34583246)

You don't use words like "beset" in basic writing.

Sure you do. "I want my TV to beset to channel 8".

Re:Simple English Wikipedia (1)

Korin43 (881732) | more than 3 years ago | (#34583262)

It could have to do with the size of the vocabulary used. An encyclopedia will always have a huge number of different words, no matter how simple you make the pages.

Re:Simple English Wikipedia (1)

dgatwood (11270) | more than 3 years ago | (#34583384)

Yeah, that's really the fundamental problem with these sorts of filters. Advanced vocabulary rarely occurs on simple sites, so the presence of such words should definitely mean a higher reading level, but the absence of them does not necessarily indicate a lower reading level. For example, Slashdot talks about relatively advanced topics, but mostly does so in simple language, with only a limited amount of jargon, so it gets misreported as "simple" when the average person still won't be able to make heads or tails of it.

That and their algorithms for deciding what words are basic also suck. For example, this [shellscriptgames.com] is definitely not what I would call basic. Helpful hint: when normal people see the word "programmatically", their eyes glaze over and they begin to drool uncontrollably.

DURRRRR (1)

windcask (1795642) | more than 3 years ago | (#34582668)

I think this service drastically overestimates the reading level of the average Google user, specifically with regard to the comprehension of words like "intermediate."

99% advanced (2)

MBCook (132727) | more than 3 years ago | (#34582672)

99% advanced [google.com] . On the other hand, Wikipedia is quite evenly distributed.

Re:99% advanced (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34582778)

Tellingly, the Basic stuff from Wikipedia is largely about sport.

Reading level is useless (0)

Dyinobal (1427207) | more than 3 years ago | (#34582676)

Anyone who's been in school or has kids in school, knows just how useless the reading level is. It's a useless measurement.

Re:Reading level is useless (2)

geekoid (135745) | more than 3 years ago | (#34582804)

IT's not useless. It's a guideline.

Re:Reading level is useless (0)

digitig (1056110) | more than 3 years ago | (#34583258)

In what sense is it a "guideline"? Perfectly clear text can get a poor readability index, incomprehensible text can get good readability.

Re:Reading level is useless (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34582974)

Especially since when clicking on "Advanced" the second result is slashdot's robots.txt file.

Re:Reading level is useless (2)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 3 years ago | (#34583098)

Yeah my son is eight years old and reading long novels now, but when he was at pre-school age he would take DVDs he liked (say Ben-10) and type the titles one letter at a time into google to get the youtube related videos list. Then he would be set for hours. Most of it was above his reading level but all he needed to kow was that B on the title matches B on the keyboard.

And once they get the hang of reading they fly past the "levels".

Re:Reading level is useless (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34583428)

Most of it was above his reading level but all he needed to kow was that B on the title matches B on the keyboard.

Muphrey's Law???

Hm.. (1)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | more than 3 years ago | (#34582694)

I thought /. would be 0% advanced, 0% intermediate, 0% basic, and 100% kindergarten...

/me ducks

Re:Hm.. (1)

skywatcher2501 (1608209) | more than 3 years ago | (#34582958)

makes me remember all the trolling in kindergarden. anyway, i'd be interested in how they compute those numbers. i mean, foxnews.com beats slashdot with 24% basic, 73% intermediate, and 1% advanced... seriously?!

Okay quick (5, Funny)

Amorymeltzer (1213818) | more than 3 years ago | (#34582710)

Everyone sound smart!

Derrida began speaking and writing publicly at a time when the French intellectual scene was experiencing an increasing rift between what could broadly be called "phenomenological" and "structural" approaches to understanding individual and collective life. For those with a more phenomenological bent the goal was to understand experience by comprehending and describing its genesis, the process of its emergence from an origin or event. For the structuralists, this was a problematic and misleading avenue of interrogation, and the "depth" and originality of experience could in fact only be an effect of structures which are not themselves experiential. It is in this context that in 1959 Derrida asks the question: Must not structure have a genesis, and must not the origin, the point of genesis, be already structured, in order to be the genesis of something?

(source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deconstructionism#Theory [wikipedia.org] )

Re:Okay quick (1)

royallthefourth (1564389) | more than 3 years ago | (#34582782)

Not opaque enough; everyone knows German writers are the most difficult to understand!

Some, who are thought to be taking a profound view, are heard to say that everything turns upon the subject-matter, and that the form may be ignored. The business of any writer, and especially of the philosopher, is, as they say, to discover, utter, and diffuse truth and adequate conceptions. In actual practice this business usually consists in warming up and distributing on all sides the same old cabbage. Perhaps the result of this operation may be to fashion and arouse the feelings; though even this small merit may be regarded as superfluous, for “they have Moses and the prophets: let them hear them.” Indeed, we have great cause to be amazed at the pretentious tone of those who take this view. They seem to suppose that up till now the dissemination of truth throughout the world has been feeble. They think that the warmed-up cabbage contains new truths, especially to be laid to heart at the present time. And yet we see that what is on one side announced as true, is driven out and swept away by the same kind of worn-out truth. Out of this hurly-burly of opinions, that which is neither new nor old, but permanent, cannot be rescued and preserved except by science.

Re:Okay quick (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 3 years ago | (#34583330)

I disagree.

Every useful thing, as iron, paper, &c., may be looked at from the two points of view of quality and quantity. It is an assemblage of many properties, and may therefore be of use in various ways. To discover the various uses of things is the work of history. So also is the establishment of socially-recognized standards of measure for the quantities of these useful objects. The diversity of these measures has its origin partly in the diverse nature of the objects to be measured, partly in convention.

The utility of a thing makes it a use value. But this utility is not a thing of air. Being limited by the physical properties of the commodity, it has no existence apart from that commodity. A commodity, such as iron, corn, or a diamond, is therefore, so far as it is a material thing, a use value, something useful. This property of a commodity is independent of the amount of labour required to appropriate its useful qualities. When treating of use value, we always assume to be dealing with definite quantities, such as dozens of watches, yards of linen, or tons of iron. The use values of commodities furnish the material for a special study, that of the commercial knowledge of commodities. Use values become a reality only by use or consumption: they also constitute the substance of all wealth, whatever may be the social form of that wealth. In the form of society we are about to consider, they are, in addition, the material depositories of exchange value.

Exchange value, at first sight, presents itself as a quantitative relation, as the proportion in which values in use of one sort are exchanged for those of another sort, a relation constantly changing with time and place. Hence exchange value appears to be something accidental and purely relative, and consequently an intrinsic value, i.e., an exchange value that is inseparably connected with, inherent in commodities, seems a contradiction in terms. Let us consider the matter a little more closely.

Re:Okay quick (1)

royallthefourth (1564389) | more than 3 years ago | (#34583556)

Choosing a selection from the first chapter of Capital rather than a later chapter as an example of understandable German writing is dialectical as fuck, especially as a reply to Hegel.

Marx is a really impressive guy, using Hegelian methods to create works that are not only understandable, but relevant and durable. Not even Hegel himself came close to doing that!

Blame it on the translators (1)

Troll-Under-D'Bridge (1782952) | more than 3 years ago | (#34583578)

Not counting Google Translate, I think the "difficult" reputation of German writers comes either from bad translators or, more likely, good translators trying their hardest not to lose the nuances of the German language. I think the best translators are the translators that attempt to find equivalent concepts in the target and source languages. Is it okay to lose something in the translation in the effort to make the translation read right? If a translation is too opaque, then you lose any chance of the work being read by readers who can't understand the original language.

Simple English Wikipedia not marked very simple... (2)

Khopesh (112447) | more than 3 years ago | (#34582712)

The Reading Level for site:simple.wikipedia.org [google.com] is currently ranked 29% Basic, 52% Intermediate, 17% Advanced, implying that Slashdot is easier to read than the version of Wikipedia specifically tasked with being approachable to those with only basic English language comprehension. Google's filter fails here, though I suspect Wikipedia is failing to a small degree too.

Re:Simple English Wikipedia not marked very simple (1)

reebmmm (939463) | more than 3 years ago | (#34582968)

So I think you are in part correct that the simple site isn't living up to its name--it takes a lot of effort to dumb stuff down. However, when you look at the "advanced" pages you start to realize how certain material gets categorized that way: scientific words and pages with primarily people of place names.

The other problem is that it's doing it based on volume of pages. The simple site actually has relatively few number of pages in total thereby more heavily increasing the "advanced" pages.

Finally, just to be clear, it doesn't seem to be computing the percentage of content, but rather what percentage of pages (in total) fall into one or the other category.

Re:Simple English Wikipedia not marked very simple (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34583380)

It tends to mark encyclopaedic and dictionary-like entries as more complex, it seems.
Not too surprising; even if they try to keep the explanations simple, they still have to include the terms they are trying to explain, which will count against them if Google is comparing against a list of "simple vocabulary."

Kudo's to testing (1)

greymond (539980) | more than 3 years ago | (#34582742)

I have a feeling most sites I frequent are going to fall into the "intermediate" category, though from a SEO perspective you typically want to keep your site content basic and easy to understand. Obviously a site dedicated to molecular physics would require pages that should probably be classified as "advanced" but not every page on the site would, so unless Google is planning on adding more site links to each domain they show in search results, I don't see how this will result in accurate listings or ultimately even add any benefit to search in general. But kudo's to thinking outside the box and testing it on the masses.

Re:Kudo's to testing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34582896)

Kudo's what now?

Slashdot (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34582806)

"Slashdot is 1 % advanced, 64 % intermediate and 34 % basic."

I think it's broken.

This. Is. AWESOME. (4, Funny)

Seumas (6865) | more than 3 years ago | (#34582812)

Finally, I can just set Google to "filter everything below a third grade level" and never have to see 'Yahoo! Answers' spam cluttering up my search results!

The following option is req'd for 95% of Americans (3, Funny)

Godskitchen (1017786) | more than 3 years ago | (#34582828)

-aliterate

Re:The following option is req'd for 95% of Americ (1)

kbielefe (606566) | more than 3 years ago | (#34583136)

Is that for results that all start with the same sound?

Re:The following option is req'd for 95% of Americ (2)

adisakp (705706) | more than 3 years ago | (#34583218)

aliterate/litrit/
Noun: An aliterate person.
Adjective: Unwilling to read, although able to do so

I believe he meant illiterate though which is unable to read rather than unwilling to.

High school math versus college math (1)

exentropy (1822632) | more than 3 years ago | (#34582848)

28% advanced for middle school math, and16% advanced for college math. So.. math somehow gets less 'advanced' from middle school to college?

Re:High school math versus college math (3, Interesting)

nobodylocalhost (1343981) | more than 3 years ago | (#34582932)

It's English used in those math sites. You can express complex ideas in simple terms, and simple ideas in complex terms. It has nothing to do with the actual content.

Re:High school math versus college math (1)

HornWumpus (783565) | more than 3 years ago | (#34583010)

I did a few searches for random things on 'advanced'

I think it's counting commas and rating based on punctuation count.

It loves dictionary definitions on advanced.

On further look I think it's simply software diagramming the sentences, and grading on complexity.

Dings for bad grammar.

Points for using big words as well. Write metropolis not city, Policeman not cop. (that's just a WAG on my part.)

I for one would be proud of writings that this POS grade basic.

Think of it as a reverse readability score.

Re:High school math versus college math (1)

royallthefourth (1564389) | more than 3 years ago | (#34583060)

But that actually does sound useful for grading the sophistication required of the reader. Judging the sophistication of the author would be a much more difficult task for a computer, wouldn't it?

Re:High school math versus college math (1)

HornWumpus (783565) | more than 3 years ago | (#34583298)

Granting that complex sentences require more of the reader.

Granting your insightful comment regarding my previous post; feted overgrown purple sentences, with unnecessary phrases and useless digressions, are difficult to decipher and require more focus and clarity of the mind of the reader.

I guess I just don't see a reason to find the second version.

Complex thoughts can only be conveyed when written clearly. Even then it is a challenge for both writer and reader.

I would challenge the algorithm to spot deliberately unclear language and rate it as poorly written, even if grammatically correct.

Which would range into computational linguistics rather then punctuation counting.

Re:High school math versus college math (1)

royallthefourth (1564389) | more than 3 years ago | (#34583512)

IIRC, Hegel managed to get kicked out of grad school for being a bad writer. He still managed to be quite influential as far as philosophers go, although he is consistently (and perhaps intentionally) opaque.

Another Needless Political Tie-In (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34582894)

Think Liberals are the learned elite and Conservatives are intellectually bankrupt? Think again:

FoxNews.com [google.com] :

Basic: 23%
Intermediate: 73%
Advanced: 2%

MSNBC.com [google.com] :

Basic: 43%
Intermediate: 55%
Advanced: 1%

Win = conservatives.

Re:Another Needless Political Tie-In (0)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 3 years ago | (#34583348)

One is a site for far right wing the other the center right, both morons. Pbs.org, contradicts you as expected.

What about keyword searches? (3, Interesting)

tomp (4013) | more than 3 years ago | (#34582942)

That's great and all, but what would be *really* cool, is if Google provided some way to search for pages that contain a specific word or phrase. Yeah, that would be cool. Some kind of search engine where I type in words and the search engine returns only pages that contain those words. Can Google work on that next?

Re:What about keyword searches? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34583018)

Yeah, that would be sweet. Especially if it didn't filter out special characters commonly used in programming languages, like .:()[]{}

Re:What about keyword searches? (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 3 years ago | (#34583226)

Someone throw that guy a modpoint or two.

There is no way to express just how much frustration it can be to be looking for something that contains certain special characters for a good reason, mostly because omitting this character results in very different, and very useless, results.

If anyone knows how to "force" Google to include punctuation in the searches (or, almost as important, how to NOT include it), please enlighten us.

So, to link this to an earlier /. article... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34583020)

Level Basic/Intermediate/Advanced
MSNBC 44/55/<1
CNN 27/70/2
Fox News 23/73/2

What does it change? (1)

sumdumass (711423) | more than 3 years ago | (#34583090)

Will it restrict the type or porn I find?

I'm not sure I'm into the advanced stuff, but I certainly do not want to get stuck in the basics. Missionary style for 10 years while married is enough for me.

Localhost (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34583108)

Results by reading level for site:127.0.0.1:
Basic 8%
Intermediate 75%
Advanced 16%

Results by reading level for site:localhost:
Basic 19%
Intermediate 79%
Advanced 1%

Could be useful if it applied to all languages.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34583204)

I reckon I have advanced english, intermediate french & basic spanish & german...

Please, Google dudes, automatic translation! (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34583248)

I'm fed up reading about feet, inches and other body parts as measures, but temperature and derived units (like "mpg") are the most annoying.

Google! Do something! (to be read in a certain villain voice)

Please! Onegai shimasu!

Re:Please, Google dudes, automatic translation! (2)

gblackwo (1087063) | more than 3 years ago | (#34583536)

What happens if you come across a slug? a fathom? a league? your automatic translation is gonna screw alotta stuff up that wasn't intended.

Here Comes Idiocracy (1)

MacGyver2210 (1053110) | more than 3 years ago | (#34583250)

Maybe soon Google can cater to the truly stupid and illiterate and just replace all known words with representative pictures like they do on McDonalds cash registers now.

After all, instead of learning to read at a better level you should totally cater to their level so they don't have to learn anything.

Might as well make this political (2)

Albinoman (584294) | more than 3 years ago | (#34583340)

Democratic National Committee [google.com] : 21% Basic, 77% Intermediate, less than 1% Advanced
Republican National Committee [google.com] : 11, 87, less than 1 (DNC has .org site and RNC has .com? Weird)
Whitehouse [google.com] : 6, 87, 5
Or Wikileaks: 1, 42, 56 [google.com]
Of course the epicenter of stupid, Sarah Palin's Facebook page [google.com] , 64, 33, 1

A few Slashdot worthy ones:
Microsoft [google.com] : 12, 77, 9
Apple [google.com] : 48, 49, 2 (anyone surprised here?)
Linux [google.com] : 4, 91, 3

Re:Might as well make this political (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34583398)

Of course the epicenter of stupid, Sarah Palin's Facebook page, 64, 33, 1

In fairness, I suspect that's more Facebook's fault than Palin's.

Re:Might as well make this political (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34583550)

Then in contrast Stephen Hawking's facebook page: 35, 45, 18

I predict... (1)

WSOGMM (1460481) | more than 3 years ago | (#34583438)

a coming of hipsters who flaunt around their consistent use of the "advanced reading level only" setting when they search things.

It appears to be biased toward big words (1)

j. andrew rogers (774820) | more than 3 years ago | (#34583548)

If you look at the rankings of nutter pseudo-science sites and fringe political babble, they are strongly correlated with a high "reading level". I can't imagine that it is because of the content -- the content is insane -- but because people on these sites often use big-word babble when elaborating on their delusions. They may be using fluffy prose, but there is no "there" there.

Consequently, I would take the reading level with a grain of salt.

Congrats.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34583574)

Congrats You're redding level have been risen by +3 points

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