Popular Science Is Done With Comment Trolling

The 141-year-old magazine announced that it will no longer allow readers to comment on its Web site, citing research to back up its claim that the tone of the discussions hindered the championing of science.

What's the Latest Development?


As of today (Sept. 24), the 141-year-old magazine Popular Science will no longer accept comments on new articles on its Web site, according to a post written there by online content director Suzanne LaBarre. The decision was made because the editors believed the kinds of comments being posted -- particularly on divisive subjects like climate change and evolution -- were hindering the magazine's mission of protecting and promoting science. Readers can still comment on Popular Science's Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ discussion areas.

What's the Big Idea?

Comments sections too often represent the worst of the Internet, forcing many site creators to resort to a variety of measures to maintain some sense of civility. In her post, LaBarre cited one of several studies that demonstrated the negative effects of unmoderated discussions. She wrote: "If you carry out those results to their logical end -- commenters shape public opinion; public opinion shapes public policy; public policy shapes how and whether and what research gets funded....[T]he cynical work of undermining bedrock scientific doctrine is now being done beneath our own stories, within a Web site devoted to championing science.

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