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'Reading Level' Filter Added To Google Search 266

Posted by timothy
from the 6th-grade-is-a-good-place-to-stop dept.
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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'Reading Level' Filter Added To Google Search

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  • But... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Kev92486 (1187107) on Thursday December 16, 2010 @09:03PM (#34582626)
    How am I supposed to choose the correct filter when I don't know what the word "intermediate" means?!
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by TheWarp (1903628)
      Perhaps Google should set it on basic by default. It's not like people would notice the internet getting any dumber.
      • by gstoddart (321705)

        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: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by theaveng (1243528)

        Oooo fun! (from highest to lowest Reading Level)

        foxnews is 2% advanced and 73% intermediate
        cnn.com is 2% advanced and 70% intermediate
        pbs.org/news is 1% advanced - 84% intermediate
        slashdot is 1% advanced and 64% intermediate.
        And the surprise:
        MSnbc is 0.5% advanced and 55% intermediate

        "Tut-tut. I think I am experiencing cognitive dissonance. Obviously this google formula is flawed because everyone knows NBC is the best source for unbiased news. And FOX #1 in reading level? Bah. Humbub." - MSnbc viewer

    • Re:But... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by mysidia (191772) on Thursday December 16, 2010 @09:51PM (#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... (Score:4, Funny)

        by Opportunist (166417) on Thursday December 16, 2010 @10:06PM (#34583162)

        Why do I have this horrible vision of LOLcats pages getting the first page on any result you might be looking for on a "basic" setting?

      • by Korin43 (881732)

        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.

        • Basic does not necessarily mean easier to read for a literate audience. A longer sentence may be better constructed, or link related ideas more naturally. Long words may allow more concise writing or be more precise.

        • Re:But... (Score:4, Informative)

          by vidnet (580068) on Friday December 17, 2010 @06:21AM (#34585388) Homepage

          After playing around with it, I get the impression that it's not literary reading level, but technical reading level. Unlike the Fleisch-Kincaid test that uses the lengths of words and sentences, Google's test seems less concerned with long sentences and more with the choice of words. This is arguably a better way to go about it, but it's a luxury Fleisch-Kincaid can't afford in it's single line definition.

          For example, searching for random phrases from War and Peace by Tolstoy returns 0% Advanced results. The simple english wikipedia page for dissection [wikipedia.org], which is readable to excess but contains some technical terms ("To dissect is to cut up a body so as to reveal its structure. The body could be that of a human, an animal, or a plant. ") classifies as Advanced.

          I definitely agree with your view on basic grammar, and Google's method ensures that basic grammar about advanced topics will still be classified as advanced.

      • We can't put the broken part in the machine. It wouldn't smash the right tiny things together. Then the machine might break. That would be very sad.

      • by AmiMoJo (196126)

        I get the impression this will be an optional setting mainly of use to children and those with learning difficulties. Google already filter results by default to prevent adult material showing up unless you specifically search for it. It is most visible when using image search but the main web search and instant/suggest do it as well.

        In fact Google already ranks results based on the language you use when searching. If you type in "Newton's Laws" you get introductory material written for laypeople, while "Ne

    • Re:But... (Score:4, Interesting)

      by noidentity (188756) on Thursday December 16, 2010 @09:55PM (#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.
      • Any damn fool can write "advanced" jargon: it only takes a bit of time to study some vocabulary lists to do so.

        But to be able to communicate clearly and concisely in basic English-- now that takes intelligence. That is the kind of writing that is worth reading.

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

    • by Nemyst (1383049)
      I'm not sure the Google engineers understood it either... It almost seems like anything that isn't "kid's book level" or "PHD degree" gets lumped into intermediate.
      • by mcvos (645701)

        It almost seems like anything that isn't "kid's book level" or "PHD degree" gets lumped into intermediate.

        I think that's a perfectly fine distinction.

    • This is way too intellectual and shows that Google doesn't really grok the Internet. What people really want is an "unsafe search" that returns only images that have been flagged as "unsuitable for minors".

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

    • Re:DURRRRR (Score:5, Funny)

      by somersault (912633) on Thursday December 16, 2010 @09:19PM (#34582768) Homepage Journal

      Hahaha. Soon "Advanced" will be renamed to "Faggy and retarded" to aid comprehension.

    • I think this approach is crap.

      This might have made sense 20 years ago. But since that time a few things have changed:

      • The number of persons for whom English is a second language (ESL) is now vastly greater than the number of living native speakers of English;
      • most data exchange on the web involves addressing an audience that includes a large number of ESL persons, and if you think that what you have to say is important enough to publish to the world, then you should take the time to rewrite it into the
  • by MBCook (132727) <foobarsoft@foobarsoft.com> on Thursday December 16, 2010 @09:07PM (#34582672) Homepage

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

  • Farther proof that Google and tehir world tubes is help making us all geniusii!
  • I thought /. would be 0% advanced, 0% intermediate, 0% basic, and 100% kindergarten...

    /me ducks
  • Okay quick (Score:5, Funny)

    by Amorymeltzer (1213818) on Thursday December 16, 2010 @09:11PM (#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])

    • 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 resu

      • by h4rr4r (612664)

        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 conv

        • 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!

  • 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.
    • by reebmmm (939463)

      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

  • 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 ultim

  • by Seumas (6865) on Thursday December 16, 2010 @09:23PM (#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!

  • by Godskitchen (1017786) on Thursday December 16, 2010 @09:25PM (#34582828)

    -aliterate

  • Slashdot editors can search the internet and actually understand the results! :p
    • "Slashdot editors can search the internet and actually understand the results! :p"

      It is a common mis-perception that all problems can be solved if we just advance the cause of science by a significant degree in the correct direction, but alas some things can not be remedied by any technological advancement.

  • P.O.R.N. (Score:5, Funny)

    by gilbert644 (1515625) on Thursday December 16, 2010 @09:37PM (#34582936)
    My quest for advanced level porn brought me here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Progressive_outer_retinal_necrosis [wikipedia.org] :(
  • by tomp (4013) on Thursday December 16, 2010 @09:37PM (#34582942) Homepage

    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?

    • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 16, 2010 @09:45PM (#34583018)

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

      • 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.

      • by metamechanical (545566) on Friday December 17, 2010 @08:41AM (#34585864)

        For Pete's sake, I've never understood why they didn't support some simple subset of regular expressions. Just "simple" stuff, like character classes and multipliers.

        Also, while I don't mind being corrected on my spelling (being that, despite trying to be diligent, I certainly make mistakes), what the heck is up with google flatly refusing to search for my exact text? It was fine when you searched for 'x,' they asked "do you actually mean y?" But now, it takes me three searches before I figure out the magic phrasing that will actually do my search and not return "corrected" results.

        • by TempeTerra (83076)

          Speaking from knowledge of search engine indexing; you can't search on regular expressions because the search index is heavily heavily optimised and the only way to search for a regex would be to generate all the possible expansions and search for them individually. You could do it, it would just fuck up everyone's processes.

          If you've done anything with SQL think about how slow wildcard text searches are compared to an indexed primary key search, then multiply by a couple of orders of magnitude since search

  • 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.

  • Fox News [google.com]

    23% Basic
    73% Intermediate
    2% Advanced
  • 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.

    • by jelizondo (183861)

      Anonimous Coward comment notwhitstandig

      Date: Fri, 2 May 1997 16:05:00 -0400 (EDT)
      From: Keith Bostic
      Subject: The dangers of taking a service droid off script
      To: /dev/null@mongoose.bostic.com

      So the 2.30p flight from San Jose to Seattle doesn't take off until 5p. But that's a different story. The point is it's now 8pm: I'm tired, I'm irritable, I'm hungry, I'm lazy. So I decide to avail myself of that characteristically American service industry: The fast-food restaurant.

      For reasons of privacy, I've chan

  • by Albinoman (584294) on Thursday December 16, 2010 @10:39PM (#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
    • by robot256 (1635039)

      You forgot
      Google [google.com]: 33, 32, 33. I have no idea how they pulled that off, maybe it got stuck in some kind of recursion.
      NASA [google.com]: 6, 36, 56. Even Google knows rocket science is complicated.
      Hulu [google.com]: 81, 17, 1. Now we know what they expect of the mainstream television audience. :P

  • 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.

    • by Twinbee (767046)
      Oh I get it. I might have guessed - you're another EVIL EDUCATOR right?

      You cannot think opposite of what you were taught to think. You have a cyclop perspective and taught android mentality.

      Timecube.com had 89,000,000 links at one time, it's almost that now [google.com]. Once again, Google provides further here that 4-corner days are real.
  • See the second link under the "Advanced" filter: Apparently reading level is not based entirely on the quality, density or accessibility of ideas in prose, but in the element of situational humor as well.
  • Considering how little of slashdot is indexed well (if at all), I'm not sure those numbers have any value whatsoever. Unless they are describing the actual code that runs slashdot, in which case the numbers are total bullshit because we all know that slashdot is primarily coded by drunken monkeys.
  • by SuperKendall (25149) on Friday December 17, 2010 @01:19AM (#34584258)

    34% basic

    Oddly discarded from the reported results were 2% COBOL and 4% Lisp. C results were discarded for using the "wrong" brace style (regardless of style used).

  • I tried a few sites of mine. "Downside.com", which has financial predictions (the dot-com crash, the mortgage meltdown, the oil spike, the auto industry bankruptcies), is rated mostly "intermediate", although the material there is heavy going unless you're up to speed on finance. "Animats.com", which has theory papers on some subjects in computer graphics and physics engines, is mostly rated "intermediate".

    On the other hand, my fun site for steampunk stuff, "aetherltd.com", is mostly rated as "advanced

  • A Sarah Palin tag on this story? Seriously? I can understand not liking her but damn, that makes Slashdot just look childish.

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