Merman (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Warning: this post may contain bait -- proceed with cushion
What is “The Gobbledygook Grader”?
This blog has done more investigative journalism regarding David Meerman Scott, and his alleged “marketing” activities since 2009′s Gobbledygook Grader, which has recently disappeared mysteriously after being mentioned by this marketing industry insider blog. What follows may shock you, it may even surprise you.
First I will explain what “the gobbledygook grader” is (was). According to his own blog post, Scott himself analyzed every press release that was put out in 2008. He says “I have just completed an analysis of all 711,123 press releases distributed by North American companies in 2008 through Business Wire, Marketwire, GlobeNewswire, and PR Newswire”. (Note that I get all of my information from his blog and other websites, so keep in mind the dubiousness of that kind of source material). Scott claims that he then made an application, called (I am getting a little tired of typing this term now) “The Gobbledygook Grader.”
What it did was this: you input a URL or text, and the program would compare the content with Scott’s handmade list of gobbledygook, and determining the amount of gobbledygook words and phrases used in that writing. It would then output the “score” and you could then adjust your wording to SAY WHAT YOU ACTUALLY MEAN instead of deliberately obfuscating a message by deliberately manufacturing alternative phraseology using world-class, marketleading gamification technology designed blah blah blah BLAH BLAH! (Shout the last “blah” at the top of your lungs for the best effect).
On May 30, 2012, a reader of Scott’s “marketing and leadership strategies” blog, known only by the name of “Jo Guerra,” made this comment:
“I miss your grader. I loved it. Any chance of bringing it back? Thanks.”
to which Scott replies the same day, and this is on Thursday of this week:
While it is true that blog content changes frequently (and therefore not considered legitimate source material), I found the timing of Scott’s removal of the “gobbledygook grader” strange. Maybe they felt that the content was stale: after all, the original post refers to an e-book written in 1996. This argument holds no water, though, in light of the fact that the original post is still there, but the gobbledygook grader is not. I suspect a profit motive.
The disappearance of the gobbledygook grader without a trace, then a cleansing of the blog post of any trace by Scott makes me really curious. I am going to look at this more closely. If you Google “gobbledygook” the autofill brings up “gobbledygook grader” in the top five.
Why do I care what happened to the gobbledygook grader?
I am interested in how computers process natural human language, right now, written English. For instance, I use a little plugin on this blog called Zemanta, which basically looks through the words in the post and suggests links and pictures that go along with those words or phrases, which the blogger can insert into the post with a single button. By the way, I find the Zemanta software to be incredibly clever, so there’s that. Of course, this idea (semantic search) is a big interest in computer science in general, going back to Alan Turing and his famous “Turing Test.” I thought it would be interesting to apply a kind of statistical analysis (I know, boring) to writing found on the internet, which would certainly be a rich source of gobbledygook, bad grammar, and other abominations against the language. As a computer science student I decided to make a project out of this idea. While researching the concept, I thought that it might be interesting to seek and destroy gobbledygook marketing on the web, if for no other reason than to continue my unbroken streak of being a pretentious and arrogant bastard for the rest of my life.
In my research, I came across Scott’s gobbledygrader, and wrote about it in this post. Soon after, they took it down and put up a 404. This upset me because I stopped working on my own version of a gobbledy grader, having found that one already existed.
In conclusion, it appears that it is time for me to go back to my lab and do what I should have done a long time ago. If you need me, I’ll be trying to learn how to write software in PHP.