Today’s analysis of the Blogger SAT Challenge results is the one I’ve been looking forward to the most. After subjecting 109 people to a sample question from the SAT writing test, we’ve learned that bloggers are dumber than high school kids (though there’s some reason to question that analysis). Our participants, most of them bloggers, didn’t fare nearly as well as high schoolers.
But bloggers have all sorts of excuses to explain their poor results: They were multitasking at the time; they hadn’t spent 18 months in an SAT prep course like the high schoolers; the judges don’t “get” sarcasm. Fine. Let’s compare the bloggers to another group with all the same disadvantages: the non-bloggers who participated in the challenge. Of the 109 participants, only 63 were genuine bloggers with listings in Technorati. So, how did they compare to the non-bloggers in the group?
Actually, not too badly:
The bloggers’ average grade on the test was a 3.13, while non-bloggers averaged just 2.60. Bloggers still didn’t score better than high schoolers: Their 5.74 average SAT-format grade was much lower than high schoolers’ 7.2 average. Below the fold, I’ll present a graph of three different comparisons between bloggers and non-bloggers.
As you can see, bloggers did better in all three measures (though only the “average most popular rating” difference was actually statistically significant). But this brings up another question. Can we find scoring differences among the bloggers as well?
I looked up the Technorati rankings for each of the 63 participating blogs. I also recorded the number of blogs linking to each of these blogs. Here’s a chart showing the relationship between the number of links to each participating blog and that blogger’s score on the Challenge.
The trendline shows that scores do appear to be higher when blogs have more links to them. Since the number of blogs linking to a particular blog is an accepted measure of a blog’s popularity, we can say that more popular bloggers tend to score higher on the SAT test. Indeed, the number of links to a blog is positively correlated to grade with a correlation coefficient of .36 — a significant correlation!
The chart of average reader ratings tells a similar story:
Once again, there’s a significant positive correlation (r=.32) between the number of links to a blog and the quality of the blog author’s SAT challenge essay.
What this data doesn’t tell us is whether blogging makes you a better writer. It might be that better writers choose to write blogs by virtue of their writing ability. Nonetheless, these results may be somewhat of a vindication for the bloggers. They may not be as good as high schoolers, but at least they’re better than all those other schmucks out there!