Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Popular Science Wimps Out, Shuts Down Comments

Too much trolling and spambotting -- so Popular Science is shutting down all comments? 

It's like getting rid of your telephones because you're annoyed at telemarketing calls.


Science can't hold its own against pseudo-science trolls?

Science must run and hide from the mean old unorthodox thinkers?

Wait a minute. What is Popular Science shutting down?

Debate. Discussion. Conversation. Argument. Clarification. Confirmation. Dissent. Criticism. Questioning. 

In other words, the interaction and testing of other minds and ideas, which is the very foundation of scientific progress.

Popular Science wimps out and disallows feedback. What's disconcerting is their neurotic, victim-mentality  reaction to problematic comments that are posted on Popular Science articles online.

They, rather unscientifically, blame the trolling on some paranoid vision they cooked up, of a "politically motivated war on expertise." 

This reminds me of the Anti Blogging Bloggers and the Cult of the Amateur book author, blaming the web revolution for growing disinterest in opera and burgeoning distaste for hierarchy, elitism, and authoritarianism.

No, the war is not on "expertise." 

It's a war on unilateral propaganda, one-way messaging, without the democratic participation of reader input and response. To shut down comments altogether, because negative comments skew the perception of the article, is just irrational and absurd.

What ticks off the ruling class and the establishment media is when average people start voicing their questions, critiques, and challenges. 

The blog or news website, with reader comments added to each article (or post), right there under and along with the article, not shoved off in some Letters to the Editor or Readers Forum section on some buried page -- this is what they fear and despise.

To make a declaration, then have immediate feedback from absolutely anybody in the world -- this Wild Wild West of public communication is not their cup of tea. 

Instead of regulating the feedback, monitoring it and only publishing what is sincere, sane, and enriches the discussion, Popular Science is eliminating the democratic process of civilized, moderated, but not censored, reader input. 

Shutting down comments is not a really mature or smart way to deal with the situation.

CAPTCHAs filter out most spambots.

Disallowing anonymous comments and moderating comments, with delayed posting of comments that are approved, that's how you deal with trolls, without censoring genuine but contrary points of view and allowing expressions of all opinions.

I have been a hardcore blogger, often inflammatory or provocative, since 2004. I have administered wikis, participated in forums, and published a large number of blogs on various issues.

Early in my blogging experience, I perfected the Art of Troll Smashing, and have posted many tips and techniques on how to deal with trolls and abusive, off topic comments.

A troll is just an immature, unintelligent person who gets sadistic but empty pleasure from annoying, interrupting, angering, humiliating, and otherwise harming other people online. It's a form of cyber bullying.

Most troll comments should be deleted and the troll banned/blocked. In some cases, a dignified response to a troll is in order, but generally, the more you interact with them, the more trouble they try to stir up.

Trolls, as you naively attempt to "reason" with them, will quickly deteriorate into racism, false allegations, filthy language, hate speech, and crazy talk.

It's very EASY to ban anonymous comments and to enforce commenting rules. By not publishing any comments until they are moderated and approved is what the big boy do, Popular Science.

To wimp out and disallow interaction with articles is very disappointing. It's not popular. It's not science. It's defeatism and cynicism.

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