I heard a fascinating segment on Marketplace today on Popular Science shutting off commenting on articles. They’ve posted a complete reason why they shut off comments on new articles. Their rationale is to shut down anti-science trolls who they feel may impact the public perception of the science they write about. Sure, I’m OK with that, it’s their site they can do what they want.
My thought is that it’s time for all news sites to shut down comments. It’s extremely rare that I read anything in comments that adds to my understanding of an article or an issue and most often the comments are one step above spam. When comments were first allowed on news articles and blogs they provided a way for people to participate in a story, add their thoughts and perhaps post contradictory evidence or facts. That’s not necessary any longer. I’m not saying people shouldn’t provide their own thoughts on articles, but they can do that via Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr or their own blog. There is no reason for a news site or a company to have to host what in most cases is irrelevant commentary.
Congratulations to Popular Science on making this move, let’s hope that we see lots of others following suit.