On Tuesday, Suzanne LaBarre, the online content director of Popular Science, made a decision that was probably envied by many others in online journalism: "Comments can be bad for science. That's why, here at PopularScience.com, we're shutting them off," she began, in a post I'm calling The LaBarre Manifesto.
It wasn't a decision we made lightly. As the news arm of a 141-year-old science and technology magazine, we are as committed to fostering lively, intellectual debate as we are to spreading the word of science far and wide. The problem is when trolls and spambots overwhelm the former, diminishing our ability to do the latter.
She makes the appropriate demurrals, noting that Popular Science isn't the only site that "attracts vexing commentators" and that...