Sometimes the phenomenon of Internet trolling feels overwhelming. Trolls thrive in the midst of otherwise thoughtful discussion forums by throwing out inflammatory statements and personal insults. It was enough for Popular Science to say, "I've had it!" and shut down its online comments on new articles.
CNET's Karyne Levy discusses the online slings and arrows she has dealt with in her career as an Internet journalist. She's heard it all, from insults about her personal appearance to attacks on her gender. She asks the question, "If comments can't be moderated, should there be comments at all?"
Popular Science came to the no-comments conclusion. Other sites have tried everything from filtering to increased moderation of comments. Google recently introduced a new moderation system to try to get a handle on the notoriously rough environment of YouTube comments. Yet the trolls still thrive.
There are limits to what automated filters and human moderators can manage. It's hard to stop a flood with only a handful of sandbags. It will be interesting to see if Popular Science's move starts a new trend.
What do you think? Should Web sites turn off comments to combat trolls? Vote in our poll, and talk it out (respectfully) in the comments.