Internet comments get a lot of flak, but some may be more intellectually challenging than others. BuzzFeed gathered comments from 15 news websites and ran them through Online-Utility.org’s readability calculator, which uses tools like word choice and sentence length to determine what grade you’d need to be in to understand the text. To get a representative sample for every site, we collected the top five comments on each of five current front-page stories — sites without enough comments (BuzzFeed, whose visitors respond more often with reaction buttons than with text, was one) were excluded from our analysis. The comments we looked at ranged all the way from a fifth-grade reading level to a tenth-grade one. Below, the sites we analyzed, in ascending order of comment complexity:
15. 2. New York Times
Grade level: 9.66
Sample comment: “In fact, homo sapiens is an evolutionary mistake by virtue of the impact man has on the total environment. I would have to say that as an elder person (71) the devastation of the environment the beauty and the beasts helps me to accept my death because it is too painful to witness the guano of human destruction.”
16. 1. The Atlantic
Grade level: 10.64
Sample comment: “In general trusting the popular media (NYT, Fox, WaPo, CNN, FT, WSJ, etc*) on anything outside the most narrowly popular topics that they focus on is a recipe for disappointment, half truths, and displays of reportorial ignorance.”
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