Popular Science decided to eliminate comments from its online magazine, explaining that even a “fractious minority wields enough power to skew a reader's perception of a story.” So they will no longer provide a free public stage for morons to argue that scientific truths ranging from evolution to the moon landing are lies.
Good for them.
There’s much loathing toward comment
sections by many journalists and PR pros. They detest the time and resources wasted on tracking,
managing or trying to ignore the malcontents who add their hostile insipidness to everything from news stories to weather forecasts. Argued one PR blogger, "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
cases is irrelevant commentary.”
Except there is a reason. It’s called money. Comments generate web pages, which generate new empty space to sell to advertisers. And this creates income, without the overhead expense of reporters and other unprofitable traditions. Some newspapers like the Washington Post are even experimenting with so-called “sponsored views” – that’s advertising pretending to be comments.
Sure, many media outfits are making their comment sections friendlier. Even the Huffington Post plans to prohibit anonymous comments (not anonymous news sources, but then I digress). But this is because comment sections are cheap, valuable real estate.
Whether that space is occupied by obnoxious buffoons, thoughtful citizen-debaters or advertisers in disguise is only as relevant as the bottom line it creates.