Darren Barefoot
Darren Barefoot

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Technical Writing


Discusses the profession of technical communication

Tuesday, June 17, 2003

As ComputerWorld reports, the people at Doloitte Touche Tohmatsu (which always reminds me a little too much of Wolfram and Heart) have just released Bullfighter, 'a consulting jargon fighter' that plugs into MS Word and PowerPoint. It's free for thirty days, and you basically you open a document and click the "Bull Index" button on a new toolbar and it tells you how much bollocks you've written.

Mostly, it evaluates the document for common marketing and sales terms like 'synergy' or 'extensible'. It also applies something called the Flesch Readability model to evaluate how easy-to-read your document is (checking things like sentence length and syllable count).

I applied Bullfighter to a white paper I recently got, and scored a decent 79 on the Bull Index, but only a 5.2/10 on the Bull Composite Index (a complex combination of the diction evaluator and the Flesch analysis). Then I ran it on an article I wrote and, while I got 95 on the Bull Index, I once again got 5.2/10 on the BCI. Am I that predictable?

While this isn't going to replace a good editor, it might help reduce the ludicrous marketing-speak one regularly sees in press releases and on Web sites. Its most useful function is to highlight those words. For example, the aforementioned white paper has four occurrences of 'paradigm' and two of 'scalable' and 'seamless'.

Just for fun, I tried it on three of Deloitte's press releases. They all scored well on the Bull Index, but turned up a 3.3, a 4.5 and a 4 on the BCI. Work on that, people.


2:24:52 PM        Technical Writing