Tuesday, June 26, 2007

How Do We Rate?

This is what happens when a blogger suddenly has a wee bit of unexpected free time on his hands ...

Taking my cue from New Jersey novelist Dave White (When One Man Dies), I submitted The Rap Sheet to a “blog-rating” diagnosis provided by the online dating site Mingle.com. This is an obvious gimmick to get bloggers and others clicking over to Mingle.com, where they might meet a mate--but it seems to be working, as I’ve seen these ratings mentioned on several blogs of late. I’d heard that Sarah Weinman’s Confessions of an Idiosyncratic Mind won an R rating, and that other noteworthy sites had been awarded PG ratings, all based around the use of perfectly good English words that somebody, somewhere apparently finds objectionable, such as “hell,” “knife,” “sex,” “dick,” and even “pain.” (These are evidently the same terms by which films are currently rated in the United States. A pretty lame basis of judgment, if you ask me.) Anyway, I sicced this software on The Rap Sheet, and it delivered up an NC-17 rating--the highest caution (“No One Under 17 Admitted”)--based on the presence of the following locutions: death (16x), murder (12x), hell (4x), shoot (3x), suicide (2x), and kill (1x). Of course, for a site about crime fiction, none of these words seems that easily avoided.

It appears that this software assesses only the blog’s front page, as those same terms are even more prevalent in The Rap Sheet’s archives. And the filter doesn’t catch all potentially distasteful words. Just as an experiment, I inserted “cocksucker” and “motherfucker” into one of the posts on this blog’s front page, and it raised no red flags whatsoever with the Mingle.com software. Go figure. Then I applied this same software to The Rap Sheet’s sister publication, January Magazine, which--just as I had anticipated--won a softer R rating (“Under 17 Requires Accompanying Parent or Adult Guardian”), based on the presence of these words: dead (5x), hell (3x), death (2x), and knife (1x).

None of this really teaches us anything. But it can be fun to plug in blog addresses and see what rating is rendered. For instance, I sent this software to inspect the popular conservative blog Ace of Spades HQ, and it came back with the same NC-17 rating that The Rap Sheet got. On the other hand, AMERICAblog, which is one of the finer liberal sites on the Web, received the milder R rating. So much for talk about Republicans upholding “family values,” eh?

If you want to do some experimenting yourself, the blog-rating software can be found here.


Nathan Cain said...

Independent Crime got a PG, despite the fact that my second to last post featured the word "Fuck." The only objectionable thing it found was a use of the word "punch." Not a terribly great program.

Linda L. Richards said...

Man! January got a softer rating than The Rap Sheet? That's, like, totally poopy!