I was reading a post on how to make your writing more accessible, and one of the recommendations was to run it through the online assessment tool on Readable. On a whim, I put in my Doctor Hauzer piece, and oh, my God:

Wholly unreadable. Failing marks in nearly every category. Utter gibberish.

The entire piece is a wall of red, which denotes sentences the system thinks are too long. (Granted, this can be a problem with my writing, though I wouldn't change anything with the Hauzer piece.) But it's not only sentences that can be overlong! Long words are confusing and scary, too. Here is an incomplete list of words I used in talking about Hauzer that are verboten - sorry! forbidden - because they are too long:

  • contemporary
  • considerations
  • responsiveness
  • perpetually
  • enthusiastically
  • archaeological
  • architectural
  • environmental
  • recognizable
  • intentionally AND unintentionally
  • sophisticated (appropriately)

Also categorically bad are adverbs. Now, I actually understand in part the given rationale here: that you can eliminate many adverbs just by picking a more specific & expressive verb ("sprinted" instead of "ran quickly" being the provided example). It's just hilarious, particularly given the system's staunch opposition to linguistic complexity of any sort, to see "Adverb ☹".

Now, I know there are certain occasions - numerous business and marketing applications; content farm fodder and clickbait, which the articles on the Readable.com site resemble - when you absolutely want to aim for conciseness, simplicity, and an impersonal tone. But not everything should be characterless content farm fodder and clickbait. The site completely fails to acknowledge that different scenarios call for different approaches to writing. It's so absolute (and, with all its metrics and strange interdictions, so multifaceted) in its insistence of anything else as wrong - even immoral, factoring in the diversity & accessibility perspective.

Honestly: championing a lobotomized, depersonalized approach as the unassailable apex of writing is kind of scary. Don't use big words, ever. Don't express complex ideas, ever. Don't betray personality or an distinct, individual voice, ever. Write like AI, always. It makes you easier to replace.

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