Blog Comments & “the Nasty Effect”

In this morning’s reads, I linked to this article in the NYT: This Story Stinks.

I bring this up, because I had previously mentioned I was considering getting rid of comments altogether.

This latest article confirmed my suspicions that trolls and other rude commenters work to undermine the intentions of of the author. In a study of over 1000 participants who were given a fictitious blog post to read on a new (mnade up) technology called “nanosilver.”

After reading the post, one half were exposed to civil intelligent comments, while the half were exposed to rude ones.

The researchers described the results as “both surprising and disturbing:”

“Uncivil comments not only polarized readers, but they often changed a participant’s interpretation of the news story itself.In the civil group, those who initially did or did not support the technology — whom we identified with preliminary survey questions — continued to feel the same way after reading the comments.

Those exposed to rude comments, however, ended up with a much more polarized understanding of the risks connected with the technology.

Simply including an ad hominem attack in a reader comment was enough to make study participants think the downside of the reported technology was greater than they’d previously thought.”

The authors noted that “60 percent of the Americans seeking information about specific scientific matters say the Internet is their primary source of information — ranking it higher than any other news source.” Thus, Trolls and other jackholes operate to undermine basic knowledge in society about important principles.

The researchers findings confirms my instincts expressed in my prior post. Rude, dumb, and rhetorically misleading comments get deleted, their authors banned. I am no longer willing to give these cretins a platform. So while I am going to keep some form of comments, I have instructed my crack team of editors to delete junk comments with extreme prejudice. GYOFB.

I would love to find a more effective technological solution to this. Feel free to make any suggestions you like in the (heh heh) comments. You know what to do if you want them not to be unpublished.


Why I Am Considering Getting Rid of Comments (February 18th, 2013)

GYOFB (May 15th, 2011)

This Story Stinks
NYT, March 2, 2013

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