We're all familiar with that deep, dark rabbit hole of Internet comment boards. A negative or critical comment sparks a firestorm of debate until the discussion erodes into a cavalcade of insults and personal attacks. Once you finally snap back to reality, you realize you've often strayed so far from the original story that it's often difficult to find your way back.
This distracting nature of online comments is part of the reason Popular Science, the venerable 141-year-old science and technology publication, declared that it would be shutting its comment boards down.
"Comments can be bad for science," writes Suzanne LaBarre, the online content director ofPopular Science. She continues:
"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."