September 26, 2013
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 it also has many "delightful, thought-provoking commenters."
January 28, 2013
Bora Zivkovic was born in Belgrade, Serbia when it was still Yugoslavia, but he was born again into the world of science blogging. As one of the founders of the annual Science Online conference (or unconference, as they like to call it), an editor at Scientific American, a prolific blogger himself, and the author of 111,418 tweets as of this morning, Zivkovic uses, understands and pushes the boundaries of the science blogging world as well as anyone.
So when he decides to assess the current state of blog commenting, it's worth paying attention.
January 23, 2013
On Jan. 4, I posted on an article in Science by Dominique Brossard and Dietram A. Scheufele of the University of Wisconsin in which they prepared a balanced news report about nanotechnology and showed it to two groups of readers. One group saw civil comments; the other saw uncivil comments and name-calling. "Disturbingly, readers' interpretations of potential risks associated with the technology described in the news article differed significantly depending only on the tone of the manipulated reader comments posted with the story," they wrote.