Sunday, October 12, 2003

Combating the Copy Droid

Who knew Deloitte had a sense of humor?

I loved Bullfighter, a readability checker for MS Word and Powerpoint. I was encouraged by their FAQ. For example:

Q: What applications can use Bullfighter?
A: Bullfighter works with Microsoft Word and PowerPoint 2000 and XP. It doesn't work with Office 97 or earlier. We tried it. There were small explosions and our entire drives were wiped out instantly. If you want to try it, go ahead.

Q: Is there any science behind Bullfighter, or did someone just come with this idea at a bar somewhere? How can I learn more?
A: Yes. The Flesch Reading Ease score is one of the accepted standards for measuring the demands placed on a reader, and the late Dr. Rudolf Flesch is still regarded as an important figure in the field of readability. His book, "How to Write, Speak and Think More Effectively" (Signet, 1960), is an excellent survey of his work.

Q: So you didn't use any research later than 1960 for this?
A: Right. Remember, we can stop answering FAQs anytime we want to.

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