Mon 08

Hand Me My Y-Chromosome

Writing Apparently I write like a girl. Someone from the Internet Writing Workshop sent me a link to the Gender Genie, where you paste in a section of text and it uses an algorithm to detect whether the author is male or female. Or, if you’re an author, you can tell whether you’re really nailing your opposite-sex characters. I mean, nailing their dialog. Portraying it accurately. Okay. Better.

I was up for the challenge, so I pasted in a bunch of lines that belonged to 6, my main female character from Syrup. Bing! Female it was! So at this point I was feeling pretty clever. Then I tried a collection of Scat’s lines. Female. I tried that A Shade Less Perfect short story. Female. More short pieces: female, female, female.

But maybe that was just my fiction voice. Surely, I thought, my blogs would positively drip with manly essence. By which I mean machismo. But no: female, female—wait! Talking about basketball, the business of film options, and Mary-Kate Olsen’s stomach scored me my first “male”. My drive-by Todd Bunker blogging: also male. So too were finding interesting things to do while standing in the shower and comparing Linux to Microsoft Windows.

That was a relief. I’m at least partly in touch with my masculine side. I can live with that.

Ah, crap. I just tested this blog. Female.


This is where site members post comments. If you're not a member, you can join here. There are all kinds of benefits, including moral superiority!

Rod McBride (#688)

Location: Gardner, KS
Quote: ""
Posted: 6127 days ago

It's okay. I run like a girl, and I get hell for that even from Frau Lobster. So you write like a girl. Good for you. You'll be good competition for Anne Tyler, Janet Evanovich, and J.K. Rowling. For that matter, after whining to the Washington Post until they basically retracted a negative review, I think John Irving must be a girl (in the worst possible way). Ani DiFranco wouldn't do that. Neither would Joyce Carol Oates, Toni Morrison or a bunch of other chicks who apparently have bigger balls than Irving does...

Emily (#609)

Location: New York
Quote: "When in doubt, fuck it. When not in doubt, get in doubt!"
Posted: 6127 days ago

Take it as a compliment. ;-)

Chris H (#1066)

Location: Where Washington crossed the Delaware.
Quote: "Chris is like a medium range ballistic name. Ok, so it's not, but it sounded kind of cool. Not really."
Posted: 6127 days ago

Could be worse. I had a security guard call me mam for two weeks due to my hair, height, and thick coat.

Though it was funny to see him almost jump out of his skin when he heard my voice.

Evil Butterfly (#1503)

Location: Quakertown Pennsylvania
Quote: "When I look at the glass, I realize I didn't get what I ordered."
Posted: 6127 days ago

That is freaking awesome. You type like my husband does. That's funny as hell, and I always call him girly. LOL

Rohan Harris (#1468)

Location: Sydney, Australia
Quote: "This is not an exit."
Posted: 6127 days ago

I wouldn't worry about that. Apparently, I write like a girl too, and the particular piece that I pasted in was the first few paragraphs from a pretty hard-core misogynist!

John Doe (#797)

Location: Live from Omicron Persei 8
Quote: "You're just jealous because the little voices only talk to me."
Posted: 6127 days ago

Mmm.. their algorithm seems to be based on hardcoded observations. I wonder if it could be improved into a statistical Bayesian approach.. It would imply creating two huge databases of male and female texts, and computing male/female probabilities by comparing the frequency of every word in your text to the frequency they appear in the male and female databases. Hmm...

Thomas (#1221)

Location: Germany
Quote: "One more, and I'm going to consider you my penpal."
Posted: 6127 days ago

If you put a text by Shakespeare into it, would it say '1 million monkeys'?

Gregor (#1182)

Location: Toronto
Quote: "The righteous man is beset on all sides by the tyrannies of evil men."
Posted: 6127 days ago

Are you safe in Australia anymore?

Machine Man subscriber Machine (#957)

Posted: 6127 days ago

Ah hahaha. I've always thought you wrote like a girl Max. You throw like a girl too. Nah, it is indeed something to be proud of. Your wife is a lucky lady to have someone who understands the intricacies of the female psyche so intimately. Your mother must have really raised you right.

Hobbie (#1359)

Location: Cornwall, England
Quote: "There was a little man in his hair!"
Posted: 6127 days ago

Either that, or he spends too much time on the phone to his mother or something...

Bugger. Apparently it thinks I'm female too. I want a refund!

Andrew (#1279)

Location: Texas
Posted: 6127 days ago

Hmm well umm maybe there something wrong with the thing? Have you tried putting in the whole book?

Picto (#64)

Location: United Kingdom
Quote: "Who is more foolish, the child afraid of the dark or the man afraid of the light? - Maurice Freehill"
Posted: 6127 days ago

Aww, Max is a big girl :-)

cute ;-)

shabooty (#637)

Location: D.C./V.A/M.D.
Quote: "I will shake your foundation. I will shake the f**cking rafters. Nobody'll be the same -Danny Bonaduce ....& go visit my blog @:"
Posted: 6127 days ago

just sprinkle in words like pwned and 'you suck dick thicks'
and you'll be male ...

does this mean your baby=a girl?
cause of course how could a GIRL(MAXINE BARRY) create a MALE baby.
just playing HOMIE!

(let me paste the above and see if its male or not)...

Words: 39

Female Score: 43
Male Score: 54

The Gender Genie thinks the author of this passage is: male!


Machine Man subscriber David (#1456)

Location: Sydney, Australia
Quote: "Why are the pretty ones always insane?"
Posted: 6127 days ago

Wait till your beloved gives birth, then you'll be so sleep deprived and covered in baby shite and upchuck for what seems like years (actually it will be years) that you'll really, really, miss being thought of as a girly writer...

Henry T. Monkeypimpenstein (#1212)

Location: Wellington, NZ
Quote: "Monkeypimp: Geeky enough to use his lame NS forum name here too."
Posted: 6127 days ago

Yeah, max is pretty cute for a girl.


Ian Hasler (#1504)

Location: Carmel, IN
Quote: "Can't repeal the laws of supply and demand."
Posted: 6127 days ago

Just finished JG, loved it. Look forward to Max's (your?) other 2.

Machine Man subscriber Adam (#24)

Location: Morristown, Indiana
Quote: "Why do I blog? Simple, because Max Barry blogs."
Posted: 6126 days ago

aug. 10 2005


You all thought you were rid of me, but I was just away on "vacation" with no access to the internets. I built houses for people who had none. Now I will be known to all as a better person, or at least I should be.

On a completely different subject(relating to Max's blog), all my blogs seem to be just barely masculine, but my Electrik Panda Wizard stories are very feminininininininimine(I have a feeling thats how max's child will say it). Yes Max, your child will mispronounce many words just like the kid in "Family Circus"(Best/worst comic ever).

Now time for me to
...a...senior in


Let's see, I can't even remember what was going the Panda dies saving the planet from almost certain destruction. Red Panda is annihilated. Mecha-walrus becomes ruler of the universe until the Proles rise up against his capitalistic ways. The End...or is it? Yes.

Well, I guess it's time to see if I write like a man or not.


Machine Man subscriber Adam (#24)

Location: Morristown, Indiana
Quote: "Why do I blog? Simple, because Max Barry blogs."
Posted: 6126 days ago

The gender genie says I am a man...if only my father would feel the same way...:(


Ari (#1107)

Location: somewhere around California
Quote: "Can I be a random member of the moment?"
Posted: 6125 days ago

I thought this might interest some people.

Paul: i wrote this: so i'm just chilling out talking to this fab chick arianna we're cruising you know, on the information superhighway you know? so i've been writing tons of poetry its great.
Paul: *submits*
Ari: lol
Paul: my passage is way female =P
Paul: haha i'll recreate the masculine paragraph
Ari: okay
Ari: masc words: some, this, as, now, good. something, if, ever, is, the, well, in
Ari: "am" is feminine though
Paul: it came out feminine
Ari: heheheheheh

Machine Man subscriber David (#1456)

Location: Sydney, Australia
Quote: "Why are the pretty ones always insane?"
Posted: 6124 days ago

So Max, have you rushed out and bought a 4WD (with a "Support the Troops" bumper sticker of course) to compensate for your perceived lack of masculinity?

Unfree People (#206)

Location: Guadalajara, Mexico
Quote: "Freedom Reigns! except where it's important..."
Posted: 6124 days ago

Whoohoo! It thinks I write like a male when writing from my male character's POV, and female when writing from a girl's POV. Of course, I only tested two sections of text...

I kind of wonder how it decides females use one set of words, and males another. I could probably get insulted if I thought about it enough...

Jjuulliiaann (#1111)

Location: New York
Quote: "Religion is the Opium of the People --Karl Marx"
Posted: 6124 days ago

My stuff usually comes out masculine (which would be correct), but not always.

xk3zofrenik (#1160)

Location: San Juan, Puerto Rico
Quote: "These human ruins."
Posted: 6123 days ago

Is a small text, but still it sounds very female and motherly to me:

"You are as worthless as your father. I am ashamed that you came from my body. You will never be anything."

Something is wrong with the algorithm. I think it excludes heartless mothers from being female.

or something is wrong with my mother.

Erin (#1481)

Location: Seattle
Quote: "Living is easy with eyes closed"
Posted: 6121 days ago

Yes, there's definitely something wrong with that algorithm. I know it's a simplified version of it, but if that's all there really is to it, then I'm highly disappointed with it. Don't take anything it says to heart, Max.

Ruth (#288)

Location: Bath, United Kingdom
Quote: "Only the insane have strength enough to prosper. Only those who prosper may truly judge what is sane."
Posted: 6116 days ago

The gender genie is a bit dumb really. When I write in my journal it usually knows I'm female, but if I'm writing in a very clear, concise style, it always says I'm male. Probably because, you know, only guys ever write clearly?

Machine Man subscriber Kim (#1532)

Location: Hong Kong
Posted: 6115 days ago

Well I'm a girl and I write like a guy.


Heather (#1477)

Location: Canada
Quote: "All great truths begin as blasphemy."
Posted: 6106 days ago

According to the Gender Genie, I write like a guy. I'll have to try out some fiction in there, though, to see my results.

Luiz Eduardo (#1601)

Location: Minas Gerais, Brazil
Quote: "Guns don't kill people, people kill people"
Posted: 6075 days ago

Well, I'm a guy and I'm sure I write like a guy, but I have to test it yet. Not sure if I write much in English...

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