A leading science and technology news website, Popular Science, has shut off the ability to leave comments on its site, blaming “trolls” and “spambots”.
The move comes as Google rolls out comment moderation for YouTube users.
Announcing the decision, online content director Suzanne LaBarre, posted on the site. “Comments can be bad for science.”
She further said, “Insulting comments and marketing spam had diminished the site’s ability to foster “lively, intellectual debate.”
Mentioning the recent research of University of Wisconsin, which suggests intemperate comments can polarize readers and skew their interpretation of a news story, LaBarre said that the website had decided to shut down comments in a bid to protect science.
The consensus surrounding scientifically validated topics, from climate change to evolution, had been “eroded” thanks to a “politically motivated, decades-long war on expertise”, she added.
Trolls that are rude and uncivil online commentators have been a growing problem for online publishers. Social microblogging site Twitter has recently introduced a “report tweet” button to try to combat trolling.