Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Silencing the Unruly Masses

Almost Cut My Hair-David Crosby
I could-a said, it was in my way
But I didn't and I wonder why
I feel like letting my freak flag fly
And I feel like I owe it to someone
 Yeah I'm old enough to remember when this song was new, I'm also old enough to remember when the "internet" was this new thing and only academics and researchers were the only ones with access.
Then it became open to the public and let me tell you when it comes to letting their "Freak flag fly" internet commenters take the cake.

Caught this article in Popular Science this morning.

Why We're Shutting Off Our Comments
Comments can be bad for science. That's why, here at, we're shutting them off.
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.
That is not to suggest that we are the only website in the world that attracts vexing commenters. Far from it. Nor is it to suggest that all, or even close to all, of our commenters are shrill, boorish specimens of the lower internet phyla. We have many delightful, thought-provoking commenters.~snip~
It got me thinking about some of the stuff I've read over the past 10 years in internet comment sections, in my opinion it got really bad after 9/11 when truthers and Ron Paul supporters seemed to swarm all over the comment sections of various websites and were so obnoxious that a number of them outright banned them.
But then of course they gravitated to their own corners of the innerwebs and normal people could avoid them.

Popular Sciences article inspired another one by the Atlantic where they asked a question and then answered it......kind of.

The Case for Banning Internet Commenters
~snip~Are comments good or bad for online journalism? The best answer is the least satisfying. They are both. Some articles are better with feedback. Some articles work better with a quiet audience. Some sites channel conversation to become as delightful as the paid-writer paragraphs. Some sites don't. Some commenters are wonderful teachers, even sources (I can't tell you how much I've learned from my own). Many commenters are contemptible trolls.~snip~
Popular Science has only themselves to blame for their self inflicted wounds of dissent alluding to climate science being "settled" without bothering to report about the ultimate limousine liberal Al Gore and his attempt to use the settled science to push the economy in "carbon exchanges". Trading carbon credits back and forth like the stock market creating an economy on what is essentially air.
Making the rich richer and taking from the poor in the form of higher energy costs.
As a matter of fact the science is so "settled" that any changes in the "rise of global temperatures" that doesn't fit the settled science needs to be covered up from the masses.
True science is never settled and if a publication on science closes itself to debate then it just becomes science propaganda and anything it writes about becomes suspect.

It's one thing for private political sites to ban comments as they usually devolve into flame wars and name calling but for websites that purport to present science to the masses and then ban or not pay attention to the feedback they get from their readers risk alienating them.
It shows that they aren't interested in trying to reach them by learning what their readers either don't understand or how they perceive what's presented to them.
Blocking comments is the cowards way out. 

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