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Where To Find The Smartest Commenters On The Internet

Find out how educated you'd need to be to understand the comments at Fox News, Gawker, Slate, and more.

Posted on May 9, 2013, at 10:33 a.m. ET


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'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. Huffington Post


Grade level: 5.33

Sample comment: "That American 'dream', it's a nightmare.."

14. TMZ


Grade level: 6.11

Sample comment: "well said it Omarion! He should be ashamed of himself. Money is the root of all evil!"

13. Gawker


Grade level: 6.27

Sample comment: "Hmm...what? Yeah whatever, print media is dying..."

12. The Daily Caller


Grade level: 6.64

Sample comment: "He's a bit on the kooky side, but I'd rather have him watching my back than anyone in the Obsma administration - that is foooor shooore!!!"

11. Politico


Grade level: 6.76

Sample comment: "Whoever has the best zinger is your new leader."

10. Chicago Tribune


Grade level: 7.04

Sample comment: "Hypocrisy puke!"

9. CNN


Grade level: 7.20

Sample comment: "Wow, that's rational. Is this the logic we're dealing with? Republicans have clearly lost their minds!"

8. Los Angeles Times


Grade level: 7.23

Sample comment: "Great news! But, LATIMES anything on Benghazi????????????????????????????"

7. Mother Jones


Grade level: 7.66

Sample comment: "Auh yes....another obedient mouthpiece for the fascist corp state."

6. Breitbart


Grade level: 7.73

Sample comment: "State run media still refuses to cover any story that harms their messiah, they got him elected not once but twice. The burden is squarely on their shoulders at what has happened to this once great nation."

5. Slate


Grade level: 7.94

Sample comment: "As soon as I manage to simultaneously date 227 women, I'll take this study into account. Until that time, forgive me for taking the unscientific approach of using anecdotal data from a single woman."

4. Washington Post


Grade level: 8.46

Sample comment: "This is exactly what should be expected when politicians establish a government-enriched privileged class. The two are inter-dependent. Nobody should be surprised."

3. Fox News


Grade level: 8.76

Sample comment: "What is there is the simple fact that, despite what the national media would have voters believe, there are still many parts of the country that do not like liberals."

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."

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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