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Popular Science ends article comments; is engagement dead?

Do you think comments are helpful of harmful?
Do you think comments are helpful of harmful?

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The science magazine announced yesterday that it has decided to turn off its article comment feature online. Trolls and spammers are primarily  to blame. Suzanne LaBarre, PopSci’s online content director, says these bad apples aren’t just disruptive, they have proven to change people’s perception of facts.

"[C]ommenters shape public opinion; public opinion shapes public policy; public policy shapes how and whether and what research gets funded—you start to see why we feel compelled to hit the 'off' switch," LaBarre explains.

RELATED: 'Popular Science' shuts comments, citing Internet 'trolls'

Magazines and blogs have been dealing with the thorny issue of how best to get the most out of user comments--and how to weed out the bad ones. Huffington Post said it’d start banning anonymous comments this month and YouTube has just announced an overhaul of its commenting system to ensure that only the most productive remarks get noticed.

Is engagement dead, at least in the form of user comments, dead?


Dan Nosowitz, Associate Editor at Popular Science

Andrew Beaujon reports on the media for Poynter Online