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Popular Science ends article comments; is engagement dead?

This photo taken on January 7, 2010 shows a woman typing on the keyboard of her laptop computer in Beijing. China declared its Internet "open" on January 14 but defended censorship that has prompted Web giant Google to threaten to pull out of the country, sparking a potential new irritant in China-US relations. China employs a vast system of Web censorship dubbed the "Great Firewall of China" that blocks content such as political dissent, pornography and other information viewed as objectionable and the issue looks likely to shape up as the latest addition to a growing list of disputes between China and the United States over trade, climate change and human rights.     AFP PHOTO / Frederic J. BROWN (Photo credit should read FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images)
FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images
Do you think comments are helpful of harmful?

The science magazine announced yesterday [TUESDAY] 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 a disruptive force, they have proven to change people’s perception of facts.

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 commentsthis 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?

Guest:

Dan Nosowitz, Associate Editor at Popular Science

Andrew Beaujon reports on the media for Poynter Online

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