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Popular Science Is Getting Rid of Comments

Soulskill posted 1 year,25 days | from the science-got-a-bit-too-popular dept.

Communications 473

Daniel_Stuckey writes "From an article announcing the sites' decision to do away with comments: 'It wasn't a decision we made lightly. As the news arm of a 141-year-old science and technology magazine, 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. ... even a fractious minority wields enough power to skew a reader's perception of a story, recent research suggests. ... A politically motivated, decades-long war on expertise has eroded the popular consensus on a wide variety of scientifically validated topics. Everything, from evolution to the origins of climate change, is mistakenly up for grabs again. Scientific certainty is just another thing for two people to "debate" on television. And because comments sections tend to be a grotesque reflection of the media culture surrounding them, the cynical work of undermining bedrock scientific doctrine is now being done beneath our own stories, within a website devoted to championing science.'" This comes alongside news that Google is trying to clean up YouTube comments by adding integration with Google+. "You’ll see posts at the top of the list from the video’s creator, popular personalities, engaged discussions about the video, and people in your Google+ Circles."

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473 comments

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It's a fact. (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,25 days | (#44943795)

It's a fact. Most "trolls" are surfing from Windows - when they are not shopping on their iPads...

Re:It's a fact. (0)

halexists (2587109) | 1 year,25 days | (#44943877)

Mod parent up... +1 irony.

Re:It's a fact. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,25 days | (#44944061)

To be fair, I have to say as an IT pro my Surface 2 is now an essential tool for my daily work. I can use all of the industry-standard software line Microsoft Office while my Surface 2 is propped up on its kickstand and instantly switch to tablet mode to take advantage of the hundreds of thousands of apps available in the Microsoft Store.

The Windows 8 UI is clever, intuitive and responsive. It makes iOS 7 look dated.

Re:It's a fact. (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,25 days | (#44944325)

"IT pro"

lol

Re: It's a fact. (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,25 days | (#44944333)

Paid Microsoft shill detected.

"IT specialist" means nothing.

What are you, a secretary that once fixed a computer?

Re:It's a fact. (2, Funny)

linear a (584575) | 1 year,25 days | (#44944167)

And to keep in the spirit of comments in general, they're Worse Than Hitler, Satan And JarJar Binks All Rolled Into One!!!!!!!!!

Moo (5, Funny)

Chacham (981) | 1 year,25 days | (#44943801)

In other news, Slashdot has decided to get rid of the commenting system, noting that most comments are not informative, and only serve to derail the important points with discussions of overlords, hot grits, and first posts. Instead, only the Slashdot team will be able to comment, limited to which "dept" the story came from.

The change on slashdot was well received according to the poll asking about it. The one choice, Cowboy Neal, which was explained to mean "yes", was the overwhelming choice by voters. The change is expected to make it easier on new users.

Erstwhile administrator and founder Cmdr Taco, said simply, "In Soviet Russia, this is how we did it."

Re:Moo (2)

TheResilientFarter (3216187) | 1 year,25 days | (#44944129)

Doesn't it seem like there is a difference between Slashdot's commenting system and pretty much all others?

Re:Moo (5, Funny)

pspahn (1175617) | 1 year,25 days | (#44944331)

Aside from proper indenting on replies?

Re:Moo (1)

vistic (556838) | 1 year,25 days | (#44944235)

In Korea, only old people comment on Slashdot.

Re:Moo (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,25 days | (#44944341)

But... but I *like* the hot grits.

Sour grapes (5, Insightful)

geek (5680) | 1 year,25 days | (#44943807)

"Everything, from evolution to the origins of climate change, is mistakenly up for grabs again"

And here I was under the impression that everything in science was always up for grabs. This is just the mag trying to silence dissent. I happen to agree with evolution but I have no problem debating it with people who do not. Nor do I believe evolution is settled science, we continue to learn a great deal and there is always a possibility of some groundbreaking new development to come along and rock the whole foundation.

Re:Sour grapes (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,25 days | (#44943893)

THIS!

When the ideas of science are no longer up for grabs then it ceases to be science and become religion.

Re:Sour grapes (-1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,25 days | (#44944001)

You're the reason we can't have nice things.

Re:Sour grapes (-1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,25 days | (#44944071)

No he is right, the real FACT is that no one knows what was actually going on 10k years ago let alone millions or billions of years ago, all that there is are well (or not so well) reasoned arguments with spotty evidence.

Re:Sour grapes (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,25 days | (#44944147)

You're killing science with your strong opinions.

Re:Sour grapes (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,25 days | (#44944245)

You can't kill an idea. "Science" the industry and jobs program perhaps should die in its current incarnation.

Re:Sour grapes (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,25 days | (#44943907)

No, I think you're missing the point (and fixating on a poorly worded sentence). Lively debate about the finer points of evolution or climate science are one thing. They're talking about armies of trolls with no interest in dialog who spread lies. They are politically motivated, where you are probably motivated by a desire to uncover the truth. The signal to noise ratio is too low. Many of 'them' are processes on computers, not people, and those bots can say a whole lot more on the internet than an army of real people.

Saying that this is the mag trying to silence dissent is sadly close to what the trolls are doing to their comments. Do you really think they don't want to have lively debate between educated, thoughtful people with different views?

Slashdot has an excellent comment system. Maybe that's what they need?

Re:Sour grapes (-1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,25 days | (#44944011)

When you have to rely on censorship, it's a sign that your system is broken.

It's possible to use technology to let each user see a picture of the comments that they prefer. Everyone retains their free speech, and everyone has the choice whether to view it or not. They're just too lazy to implement the technology.

Re:Sour grapes (5, Informative)

Delusion_ (56114) | 1 year,25 days | (#44944047)

It's not censorship to decide not to host a comments section on your website any longer. It's an editorial decision which affects all users equally.

Re:Sour grapes (4, Insightful)

the_B0fh (208483) | 1 year,25 days | (#44944241)

AC does not understand the concept of censorship. And posted as AC - so, self censorship in a way.

Pretty sad.

Re:Sour grapes (-1, Redundant)

russotto (537200) | 1 year,25 days | (#44944063)

Do you really think they don't want to have lively debate between educated, thoughtful people with different views?

Yes. The heart of their objection is they are afraid commenters will actually be able to affect the world, and they want to be the only ones who do that on their site.

Re:Sour grapes (5, Insightful)

noh8rz10 (2716597) | 1 year,25 days | (#44944079)

No, I think you're missing the point (and fixating on a poorly worded sentence).

welcome to the internet.

Re:Sour grapes (-1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,25 days | (#44944123)

Slashdot has an excellent comment system. Maybe that's what they need?

You may be right about the bots, but these people want a tablet (and the surface pro is capable in that regard.) plus the ability to run their POS app etc... and the Surface pro with the physical keyboard is actually very good at it. They also like it as much a laptop for writing longer email, and formal quotes. The surface pro is a good fit for this niche.

I wound up buying one at the MS store in Palo Alto. What an experience! They sure treated me nice. They threw in Office Home+Student for free with the extras I bought. I don't mind having that despite all my docs being in OO.org format, since many Word docs just don't work well in Open/LibreOffice.

To sum it up, the thing is completely satisfactory. The build quality seems superb. The digitizing pen is kick-ass. And I can do just what I wanted, which is to be able to do everything BOT-ish in tablet mode, with the keyboard as a backup in case I need to do more extensive typing. The MS touch keyboard on screen implementation is very good, including handwriting recognition. It is also plenty fast.

Windows 8 at first seemed completely incomprehensible. I could write plenty on how stupid MS was for the way they went about releasing this. For a desktop without touch, Windows 8 just doesn't make sense. I'm still planning to have nothing to do with it on my desktops. But on the tablet it is actually Ok, and kind of fun to be using something new that's also understandable (once you begin to "get it.")

Re:Sour grapes (4, Informative)

the_B0fh (208483) | 1 year,25 days | (#44944251)

You know you don't get credit or paid if you post as AC, right?

Re:Sour grapes (1)

TheResilientFarter (3216187) | 1 year,25 days | (#44944211)

Perhaps it is an indication that people are sick of seeing all the stupid articles on those two retarded topics. It's the reason that my #1 go-to webzine is Wired. I hardly ever see any articles on those two stupid topics. It's a fucking dead horse and I don't want to read about it. Not even a headline. It has nothing to do with my opinions on the topics and everything to with I'm just fucking sick of reading about them.

Re:Sour grapes (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,25 days | (#44944249)

No, I think you're missing the point (and fixating on a poorly worded sentence). Lively debate about the finer points of evolution or climate science are one thing. They're talking about armies of trolls with no interest in dialog who spread lies. They are politically motivated, where you are probably motivated by a desire to uncover the truth. The signal to noise ratio is too low. Many of 'them' are processes on computers, not people, and those bots can say a whole lot more on the internet than an army of real people.

Saying that this is the mag trying to silence dissent is sadly close to what the trolls are doing to their comments. Do you really think they don't want to have lively debate between educated, thoughtful people with different views?

Slashdot has an excellent comment system. Maybe that's what they need?

Isn't this what capchas are supposed to solve?

Re:Sour grapes (4, Interesting)

gnoshi (314933) | 1 year,25 days | (#44944329)

Captchas are intended to block bots, but the bots keep improving.
Maybe captchas should be supplemented with logic puzzles to ensure commenters are actually capable of rational thought as well as pattern recognition.

Re:Sour grapes (4, Insightful)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | 1 year,25 days | (#44943923)

"Everything, from evolution to the origins of climate change, is mistakenly up for grabs again"

And here I was under the impression that everything in science was always up for grabs. This is just the mag trying to silence dissent. I happen to agree with evolution but I have no problem debating it with people who do not. Nor do I believe evolution is settled science, we continue to learn a great deal and there is always a possibility of some groundbreaking new development to come along and rock the whole foundation.

You might want to consider re-weighting the importance of various venues. Internet comment sections are not...exactly... a notorious haven of scientific enlightenment (regardless of topic). The SNR is shit, and it's basically just psuedoanonymous people regurgitating links and copypasta at one another (like some sort of horrible combination of wikipedia and what a decadent late-imperial roman would have considered a good party).

It's perfectly possible for new developments to come along; but the probability that they'll emerge on a message board (rather than, say, during the course of archeological or gene sequencing work) is negligible.

Re:Sour grapes (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,25 days | (#44944009)

I disagree, message boards are great for getting those alternative perspectives out there. If you don't know how to think without an authority telling you what to listen to you aren't thinking scientifically anyway.

Personally I think the quality of science has dropped greatly in the last few decades.

Re:Sour grapes (5, Insightful)

quacking duck (607555) | 1 year,25 days | (#44944305)

I disagree, message boards are great for getting those alternative perspectives out there. If you don't know how to think without an authority telling you what to listen to you aren't thinking scientifically anyway.

Many people, probably a majority, *don't* know how to think without an authority telling them what to listen to. That "authority" is not necessarily government, or church leaders, or politicians, it's *anyone* who's charismatic enough that people trust what they say or write. Rush Limbaugh, Steve Jobs, Greenpeace activists, Jenny McCarthy, market analysts, parenting experts, a non-techy's tech friend, etc. Most of those in turn have their own authorities that they listen to.

Re:Sour grapes (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,25 days | (#44944335)

I agree. So if we accept that premise, we can deduce that the opinions of those people are irrelevant. The only opinions that matter are those of the authority figures and those that can think for themselves. It is relatively easy to spot someone parroting an authority figure's words after a quick back and forth, I'm sure there are algorithms out there already that attempt to capture this.

Re:Sour grapes (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,25 days | (#44944019)

Even if there was only one great comment that advanced science, wouldn't it be worth it? Especially if you can filter other comments you consider spam at the client (as opposed to exercising prior restraint at the server).

Re:Sour grapes (2, Interesting)

SirSlud (67381) | 1 year,25 days | (#44944231)

Since the vast majority of scientific advances don't necessarily originate from one place, person, or time but often many at once, I find the idea that we're relying on lightening to strike in a comment board in order to achieve some important scientific advance rather naive and laughable.

Re:Sour grapes (5, Interesting)

Evil Pete (73279) | 1 year,25 days | (#44944259)

Here's a perfect example. Yesterday I was reading an article in the News section of Nature online. There were three comments: one was about how the item confirmed Billy Meier's contactee reports with his meeting with the Pleidians; another was (if I remember correctly) arguing against AGW; the last one was a guy touting his own theory of everything on his website. This is one of the most prestigious scientific journals in the world. The comments were just embarrassing. They should just ban comments in the news section.

After that, this action from Popular Science looks positively enlightened.

Re:Sour grapes (5, Insightful)

halexists (2587109) | 1 year,25 days | (#44943937)

Yes, but one hopes that debate carries some sort of rhetorical value. When the debate takes the form of "I believe in X and here are blatant falsehoods to support my view and you can't talk me out of claiming they are true," I can understand why Popular Science doesn't want to associate its brand with that.

I'd say that Popular Science isn't trying to silence dissent as much as it is trying to not be party to this type of discussion, which is an affront to the scientific method. It is too bad that the quoted rationale centers around "established facts in science" rather than not wanting to legitimize non-scientific discussion of the sort that crops up in their comments section.

Re:Sour grapes (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,25 days | (#44943977)

Not likely. But if it should happen, it won't come from some bunch of trolls and religious fanatics arguing on some forum or website. It would come from someone doing serious digging or thinking, undistracted by noise on the web.

Re:Sour grapes (-1, Offtopic)

CheshireDragon (1183095) | 1 year,25 days | (#44944005)

Someone mod this UP! If I only had some points :/

Re:Sour grapes (0)

fermion (181285) | 1 year,25 days | (#44944043)

Yes and no. On one hand there is no point arguing when an opponent comes with absolute knowledge. When someone is saying that evolution is wrong because the bible says so, or that climate change is wrong because the bible says so, or that intelligent design is a plausible hypothesis, this is not science so there is no argument, just a possibility of agreeing to disagree. To me the issue is no so much that a healthy debate can't occur, but that a healthy debate does not in general exist. For example a lot of people are focusing on the fact that climate change is not occurring as fast as it once was thought, or that we have a cooling cycle going on right now, as an indictment for the general idea that climate change is a problem. These people are trying to fit evidence to a preconceived notion, which is not science and really has no place in a scientific discussion.

OTOH, magazines such as Popular Science are not always reporting accurate science, and often go into editorials that attack others. There has been cases were such attacks have been unjustified and unsupported by objective evidence. In the past such attacks were unhindered by feedback within the magazine. Now people who are more interested in science that personal vendettas are free to point these out. There was a situation like this a few years back where a widely regarded 'skeptic' was attacking another person. The attack was based on false evidence. In the past the attack would have remained a black eye on the face of science. But now comments can be posted to show that not all science people are willing to forgo objectivity when their feeling have been hurt.

This obviously is an editorial problem. Honestly everyone else have been able to deal with comments. Free discussion is the basis of science, even if sometimes it get messy. This can only be taken to be a financial issue.

Re:Sour grapes (2)

geek (5680) | 1 year,25 days | (#44944101)

Yes and no. On one hand there is no point arguing when an opponent comes with absolute knowledge.

In this case its the Mag coming with "absolute knowledge"

 

When someone is saying that evolution is wrong because the bible says so

That's not their argument. The bible makes no mention of evolution. A small number of fundamentalists might say this but it's not founded in the actual religion.

 

or that climate change is wrong because the bible says so

No one has ever made that argument. You're just making things up now and trying to disparage people you disagree with. You're literally no better than the people who made the decision to disable the comments at this point. While they are silencing dissent by killing the venue you're trying to silence it through shaming them.

You need to seriously think about how you debate/discuss the sciences.

Re:Sour grapes (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,25 days | (#44944221)

In this case its the Mag coming with "absolute knowledge"

No, its not. And you're only proving their point.

Popular Science is not claiming to have "absolute knowledge", its detractors are and are using that same false, imposed claim to undermine them.

Re:Sour grapes (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,25 days | (#44944093)

It is up for grabs, but with good arguments. What you see in the comments are the same bullshit arguments used over and over again, that have been proven false/invalid countless times. And trolls/lunatics seems to have endless amount of time to write these comments.

Re:Sour grapes (1)

Dimwit (36756) | 1 year,25 days | (#44944127)

Yes, but if something groundbreaking comes about that shakes the foundations of evolutionary theory, it's going to be published in Popular Science, not posted in its comments section.

Re:Sour grapes (0)

geek (5680) | 1 year,25 days | (#44944189)

Yes, but if something groundbreaking comes about that shakes the foundations of evolutionary theory, it's going to be published in Popular Science, not posted in its comments section.

And now it wont even be discussed in their comment system.............. dissent effectively silenced

Re:Sour grapes (2)

the_B0fh (208483) | 1 year,25 days | (#44944237)

There is a difference between reasoned debate, and trolling. You appear to lump both together.

You are wrong. They are not one and the same.

Re:Sour grapes (1)

naasking (94116) | 1 year,25 days | (#44944257)

And here I was under the impression that everything in science was always up for grabs.

Everything is up for grabs, by informed opinions. Trolls and rants from ignorant people don't qualify.

Re:Sour grapes (1)

hsthompson69 (1674722) | 1 year,25 days | (#44944275)

Mod parent up.

I know for a fact that theists and creationists are completely bonkers and wrong - but I'm *always* willing to debate the issue. The exercise both helps me hone my own rationale, but also gives me empathy and insight to their beliefs and convictions.

first/last? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,25 days | (#44943815)

good idea! now lets get rid of slashdot comments!

We control the conversation, said PopSci (-1, Troll)

Kid Zero (4866) | 1 year,25 days | (#44943823)

All the better to just push an opinion.

Re:We control the conversation, said PopSci (4, Insightful)

Frosty Piss (770223) | 1 year,25 days | (#44943865)

All the better to just push an opinion.

A meaningless comment. In fact, pretty much a troll.

PopSci brings up a lot of good points, and they have made a decision that I think more and more on-line pubs will make. You are free to send them a Letter to the Editor, but these ugly snipe-fests that go on in many forums have little if any value.

The comments at the Seattle Times are a great example, having been taken over by extremists who apparently have no voice anywhere else.

The fact is that in most forums that don't have a "moderation system" become flooded with trolls that render the whole forum concept useless for any real conversation.

PopSci isn't the first to ditch forums, and will not be the last.

Re:We control the conversation, said PopSci (-1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,25 days | (#44944153)

Isn't it better to have a virtual outlet, instead of say shooting up a Navy yard?

Re:We control the conversation, said PopSci (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,25 days | (#44944179)

Isn't it better to have a virtual outlet, instead of say shooting up a Navy yard?

What's your address, bro?

Re:We control the conversation, said PopSci (5, Insightful)

turkeyfish (950384) | 1 year,25 days | (#44944173)

I couldn't agree more. My time is valuable and its too precious to waste on wading through troll droppings.

There really are many with an ideological bent, who are actively seeking to disrupt sites discussing science for purposes that have nothing to do with science, but rather to influence discussion that may come from the consequences of scientific findings.

The reality is that modern science has become so specialized that few commenters are really capable of adding anything to a meaningful discussion anyway. For example, what kind of meaningful input might one expect of the average commenter provide say on the discussion of the importance of Uryshon's Lemma or Gershgorin's Circle Theorem to modern bioinformatics or aerodynamics? It is a shame that the electronic equivalent of graffiti artists have vandalized so many useful commenting sites to suit their own personal and ideological fantasies, Particularly, since it denies so many a peek into the intrinsic beauty inherent in such discussions.

You're right, however, and without some form of moderation or peer review the entire effort takes on the character defined by the lowest IQ posting. Many may complain that scientist are retreating to their ivory towers, but the sad fact is that the vandal's sacking every website they can overrun make such towers the only safe haven to continue to do science. If they want into the ivory towers, they will first have to develop the credibility to enter.

Its far better to submit "letters" to the editor, with comments and let them make the best judgement as to which most advance the topic under discussion. This can be done by a few moderators on most sites. I would be quite happy not to see my own posts or questions, if I knew I was instead reading better or more informative ones.

Re:We control the conversation, said PopSci (5, Insightful)

TrollstonButterbeans (2914995) | 1 year,25 days | (#44944177)

In the earlier days of the internet, forums and news groups and such led to incredibly brilliant discussions. And I think some people at the time felt this would eventually lead to a paradise of "mass human thought engine" resulting into some sort of "hive brain" of human collective thought.

But in the real world, most people are just bored or bigoted or want attention --- and humans as a whole are more Homer Simpson or Miley Cyrus than Albert Einstein or Carl Sagan.

And this reality won. For now. Scientific and intellectual thought will find a new way to win again. Given enough time.

Re:We control the conversation, said PopSci (1)

CheshireDragon (1183095) | 1 year,25 days | (#44944021)

I think this comment can serve as an example of why they are halting comments.

Re:We control the conversation, said PopSci (2)

bmo (77928) | 1 year,25 days | (#44944027)

But the only people who really control discussion these days are the pig-headed dolts who won't give up a lost argument for anything, and the trolls, who aren't there for legitimate argument anyway.

Anything else sane is lost in the noise.

I'm not mourning the loss of comments on a lot of sites. As a matter of fact, to protect my sanity I have been avoiding comments for the most part.

There are precious few places that have a comments section that have a decent moderation system.

And lastly, your post is content-free BS.

--
BMO

Re:We control the conversation, said PopSci (2)

noh8rz10 (2716597) | 1 year,25 days | (#44944107)

there's a safari plug in that hides comment sections on sites. it's nice.

All well and good, but... (0)

djupedal (584558) | 1 year,25 days | (#44943831)

If they really want out of the mess they say they're in, they need to get off the internet entirely. As it is said, the 'net views and blockage as an outage and works to go around it. Blocking comments on their site does nothing when they can still pop up at will on others.

It's time for scientists to come down from there ivory towers and let the masses participate, rather than treat them as audience.

Re:All well and good, but... (1)

pitchpipe (708843) | 1 year,25 days | (#44943899)

If they really want out of the mess they say they're in, they need to get off the internet entirely. As it is said, the 'net views and blockage as an outage and works to go around it. Blocking comments on their site does nothing when they can still pop up at will on others.

I view this comment as a blockage. Does that mean my comment popped up to go around it?

Re:All well and good, but... (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | 1 year,25 days | (#44943995)

It's time for scientists to come down from there ivory towers and let the masses participate, rather than treat them as audience.

Any scientists in favor of the paywalled hellholes that are many contemporary journals has something to answer for; but how far do the scientists get to expect the masses to come to them, rather than they to the masses?

Science isn't a Holy Mystery Untouchable By The Unanointed; but it isn't exactly a series of simple, lucid, concepts accessible to the everyman; were it not held in thrall by sinister obscurantists. It is certainly possible to flimflam people with jargon just because you can; but that in no way implies that it is possible for people without (often nontrival) background knowledge to understand or usefully participate in a given subject.

Re:All well and good, but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,25 days | (#44944117)

As computer scientists who are more familiar with the advantages of open source and open access get more involved in biology I have seen the quality of PLOSone articles begin to surpass the paywalled journals. Eventually the people who simply compare two averages that have risen to the top the last few decades will be made irrelevant by those who create models that predict things. The faster this happens the better.

Re:All well and good, but... (1)

CheshireDragon (1183095) | 1 year,25 days | (#44944119)

I really don't think it matters if it pops up somewhere else. At least it's not popping up on their site causing it to look like a bunch of dim bulbs and spam trash everywhere.

I also think you hold scientists up on a false pedestal. They don't think they are all that and what you may have thought of, they already thought of a decade ago. There is nothing the masses can offer that they haven't already thought of or tried because it 'might just work'. There are probably a few who can add to the table, but they are in school right now working on their PhD for their field of study ready to put their ideas to the test when they start their science career.

Re:All well and good, but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,25 days | (#44944183)

There is a huge lack of communication between diciplines with little professional opportunity to learn from other fields.PhD students are forced to focus on the minutia of their own field. They do not have time to go gather possibly relevant info and wade through the jargon from experts in other fields. Comment sections on news articles are an opportunity for this to occur.

Re:All well and good, but... (2)

pla (258480) | 1 year,25 days | (#44944157)

It's time for scientists to come down from there ivory towers and let the masses participate, rather than treat them as audience.

Don't confuse academia for science, even though most of the latter happens in the world of the former.

That said, the masses count as complete idiots. They will prefer the argument by the guy with the best hair over the one with actual supporting evidence. They prefer to hear about how great everything looks over the possibility that we as a species have caused an ongoing global extinction event which may yet climax with our own extinction. The give more weight to what their friend Steve's mother's best friend heard about Fukushima Daiichi at the hairdressers than they do to the IAEA with boots-on-the-ground in Futaba.

If the masses count as mere audience, they do so out of choice - "Math is hard, let's go shopping!"

2013: The Year the Web Died (5, Insightful)

dcollins (135727) | 1 year,25 days | (#44943833)

Between these sites slamming the door shut on public comments, walled login gardens, and NSA slimy fingers on everything, it's just super depressing. Feels like a mortal wound.

Seriously, critique the Slashdot comment system if you like, but it's a thousand times better than 99% of the sites out there. And it's pretty simple. Sites not ripping off this system seem like they conscientiously want a reason to slam the door on public conversation.

Re:2013: The Year the Web Died (2)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | 1 year,25 days | (#44944037)

The slashcode itself is pretty creaky; but the conceptual structure beats the hell out of most anything I've seen.

Non-threaded boards are totally hopeless unless the number of comments per topic is tiny (Oh, sure, I want to sort through 30 pages of comments, manually parsing them to see who is quoting what... like hell); but the 'moderation is basically a presentation problem' approach( where you can, fairly easily, see whatever you want, nothing goes down the memory hole; but you can also get a quick 'best of' at +3 or so) beats either unmoderated fora, which are cesspools, or all but the most virtuous and energetic moderators (who aren't easy to find, and tend to be unequal to the tide of slime that any site with real traffic gets).

Re:2013: The Year the Web Died (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,25 days | (#44944125)

Between these sites slamming the door shut on public comments, walled login gardens, and NSA slimy fingers on everything, it's just super depressing. Feels like a mortal wound.

Seriously, critique the Slashdot comment system if you like, but it's a thousand times better than 99% of the sites out there. And it's pretty simple. Sites not ripping off this system seem like they conscientiously want a reason to slam the door on public conversation.

No it's not. The number of times I use to log in and put my name to the comment only to have it voted up on down not on merit but on popularity was depressing. If slashdot is so good why do we continually hear from people about how downhill it has all gone.

I call BS. Keep patting yourself on the back while the Titanic sinks.

Re:2013: The Year the Web Died (5, Informative)

LordLimecat (1103839) | 1 year,25 days | (#44944135)

You actually have no idea what the web is about do you?

Heres a hint: practically free self publication to an entire world with no effort. That part hasnt changed, and is easier than ever. Have Windows? 3 buttonclicks, and you have IIS up and ready to go. Have Linux? One or two commands and you have a LAMP stack ready to go.

What youre lamenting is apparently that a few freebies are being retracted because people are figuring out that giving randoms a soapbox on your site doesnt improve the quality of your site.

Re:2013: The Year the Web Died (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,25 days | (#44944193)

I agree. Information really does want to be free!

Re:2013: The Year the Web Died (1)

turkeyfish (950384) | 1 year,25 days | (#44944229)

"Sites not ripping off this system seem like they conscientiously want a reason to slam the door on public conversation."

My sense is that far too little of what gets posted on science or technology sites, such as /. can be seriously taken as "conversation". More like one graffiti artist spray painting over what someone else scribbled. Claim that its a violation of freedom, creativity etc., if you like, but such arguments rarely enhance the quality and understanding of the science within most threads, merely generate many useless sub-threads that are a waste of time mining for that one gem of wisdom.

The only reason to visit slashdot anymore is that it is one of the few sites that provides a rather broad array of news concerning recent technological developments in a timely fashion. If I could find a better one, not plastered with ads, I would use it. One would think that /. readers would be better trained in science, but my experience is that most know far less science than they think they know and consequently, its hardly worth the time to try to enter a discussion. Obviously, I do recognize that there are educated readers who from time to time prove me wrong, but I think in general we need to do a much better job in trying to elevate the value of the better and more well formed comments.

Re:2013: The Year the Web Died (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,25 days | (#44944277)

B.S. - there's so many multiple account using trolls here it's not funny. Not being able to see who downmodded you is another fault that lets the same little pricks with their multiple sockpuppet accounts do even more damage with their non justifiable downmods. You change that, to let anyone see who downmodded them, things would change around here. The little morons doing these games would be put to a halt, fast.

Trolls and Spammers (2)

Esion Modnar (632431) | 1 year,25 days | (#44943855)

And this why we can't have nice things. Thanks a lot!

Re:Trolls and Spammers (3, Insightful)

TrollstonButterbeans (2914995) | 1 year,25 days | (#44944205)

> And this why we can't have nice things. Thanks a lot!

We can. But nice things require a lot of attention, the lesson is more that "nice things just don't happen by themselves".

Nice things have to be perpetually earned and re-earned. Sucks but true. There are always barbarians at the gate; there always will be.

Hurrah Slashdot! (5, Interesting)

rueger (210566) | 1 year,25 days | (#44943863)

Seriously. I can't think of a better system for comment handling. Just move the sliders aaaaaaall the way to the right and never see another troll!

For some reason The Register also seems to have good quality comments. As does The Guardian, so it can be possible to build a commenting community that works. Maybe it's a British thing?

On the other hand it's been years since I bothered looking at comments on any Canadian media site..... CBC pays a lot of money to contract out comment moderation and still manages to have a worthless stream of dreck.

Re:Hurrah Slashdot! (4, Funny)

Frosty Piss (770223) | 1 year,25 days | (#44943913)

Seriously. I can't think of a better system for comment handling. Just move the sliders aaaaaaall the way to the right and never see another troll!

Sliders? I'm viewing this in Lynx.

Re:Hurrah Slashdot! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,25 days | (#44944015)

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Re:Hurrah Slashdot! (1)

Joshua Fan (1733100) | 1 year,25 days | (#44944075)

I can't fathom why an institution grounded in the scientific method couldn't scientifically develop an effective participant-moderated comment system.

Re:Hurrah Slashdot! (3, Insightful)

geek (5680) | 1 year,25 days | (#44944137)

For some reason The Register also seems to have good quality comments. As does The Guardian, so it can be possible to build a commenting community that works. Maybe it's a British thing?

Good comments or comments you agree with? I ask because they aren't necessarily the same thing.

Re:Hurrah Slashdot! (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,25 days | (#44944159)

Seriously. I can't think of a better system for comment handling. Just move the sliders aaaaaaall the way to the right and never see another troll!

...or any other comment of worth or interest that doesn't conform to group think. Hurrah for patting yourself on the back and confirming whatever the group tells you to think.

Popular science has become a junk mag, and slashdot has become a junk "news for nerds" site. Both are constantly criticised. Pretending that their way is the only way because you happen to like never leaving your own comfort zone and being told what to think is your choice. I'm not cheering.

Metafilter (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,25 days | (#44943889)

Personally I like the metafilter commenting system. You have to pay a $5 one time fee to comment. It keeps out the spambots.

Perhaps slashdot could do something similar with their subscriptions:

Anonymous: You comment defaults to 0
Logged in: Your comment defaults to 1
Subscription: Your comment defaults to 3

Of course you could still be up/downvoted based on the quality of your idea.

Re:Metafilter (5, Insightful)

istartedi (132515) | 1 year,25 days | (#44943983)

As a long-time user who sometimes choses to post AC and is always logged in, I start at 2. It's my understanding that the 2 comes from having good Karma. I've been around long enough to remember when numeric Karma was visible to users. This resulted in contests to see who could rack up the most points, which became a problem. Sometimes people like myself would get bored and commit "Karma Suicide" to re-start the game. They hid numeric Karma to stop that. I haven't read SlashCode; but I understand the number is still lurking in there so that the system can decide where to start our posts.

Anyway, I digress. I don't want money factoring into the equation. The Slashdot moderation system went through several changes early on and has stabilized quite nicely AFAIK. Would any actual Slashdot employees care to comment on the last time a major change was made to the algorithm? It isn't broken. Don't fix it.

I don't think it's patented either. I too wonder why more sites don't adopt it.

Re:Metafilter (2)

geek (5680) | 1 year,25 days | (#44944339)

I too wonder why more sites don't adopt it.

Because it still rewards group think and creates a popularity contest rather than a forum for actual discussion. I can say this as one of the first people to ever post on slashdot back when it was hosted in Cmdr Taco's dorm room in college. I even contributed some of the code once upon a time.

That said most comment systems have this issue. In reality, all they need to do is allow you to block anyone you wish. No points, no popularity contest. Just block the people you dislike and move on. You dont see them, they dont see you, everyones happy in their bubble.

Re:Metafilter (1)

lister king of smeg (2481612) | 1 year,25 days | (#44943991)

if subscribers had a automatic 3 then we would be inundated with high ranked shills

Hire an intern to moderate the posts (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,25 days | (#44943897)

Don't post anything until they've been accepted, and hire some fresh college grad with a BS in English (great job prospects!) for $20/hr to moderate the posts.

Old Rag Is Old (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,25 days | (#44943959)

What's really happening here? We have an old and floundering magazine that tried to turn itself into a blogzine. Being an old rag, they don;t know how the bloggy business works and aren't able to manage the userbase to their expectations. The fix? Cut the userbase off and go back to being a magazine, but it's an e-magazine. How trendy!

Meanwhile subscriptions and advertizing revenue continue to plummet.

Ta ta.

Amen: (4, Insightful)

Delusion_ (56114) | 1 year,25 days | (#44944017)

> A politically motivated, decades-long war on expertise has eroded the popular consensus on a wide variety of scientifically validated topics.

True worldwide, alarmingly so in the US, where "it inconveniences my politics" carries the same weight in discussions as "there is no evidence for this hypothesis".

Back to Usenet (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,25 days | (#44944029)

Well I guess we'll all have to go back to usenet if we want to talk about things outside the narrow spectrum of approved speech.

Popular Science will be gone in three years. (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,25 days | (#44944041)

When you deny your most hard core readership ( they are the people who
take the time to comment ) the chance to interact with your writers and
editors, you have just committed suicide as a magazine.

Comments were always a feature back in the print days when those
with sufficient motivation would actually send a snail mail letter to the
editor. And now that the comment process is easier, all Popular Science
is really saying is that they are too damned cheap to pay a human to filter
the comments. And that is truly pathetic. So they deserve to go out of business.

=

Maybe we ll finaly see the google plus killer app? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,25 days | (#44944053)

YouTube and Google Plus... Hmm I like the idea. This could bring air to Google Plus which frankly is a great interface.

Maybe we ll finaly see the google plus killer app? (1)

Jean-Philippe Martin (3216973) | 1 year,25 days | (#44944059)

YouTube and Google Plus... Hmm I like the idea. This could bring air to Google Plus which frankly is a great interface not used much at the moment .

Re:Maybe we ll finaly see the google plus killer a (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,25 days | (#44944263)

Nice try Mr. Gundotra.

"bedrock scientific doctrine" ??!! (2)

iggymanz (596061) | 1 year,25 days | (#44944065)

there are no "bedrock scientific doctrines", the teachings and models of science get replaced or refined. Scientists want that and are glad when it happens.

journalists not asking questions (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,25 days | (#44944091)

Journalists around the web are cheering the decision and not asking serious questions. Interesting.

Walling Up The Wall.... (-1, Flamebait)

zenlessyank (748553) | 1 year,25 days | (#44944109)

on the walled garden. Evolution, as I have understood it, is related to increasing abilities from learning from previous mistakes. Yet our society is dumbing down so fast it is astonishing. And yet another wall to prevent one seeing the wall with the writing on it. Fuck me running.

Popular Science (2)

ruvablue (2571043) | 1 year,25 days | (#44944213)

Popular Science's headlines are way too sensationalistic, many commenters only comment on the headline and never read the article or its references anyway. Like the one about not teaching higher algebra in school as a default, headline was something like: "Let's stop teaching math in school". What a disaster in the comments. Some people just want to be able to say [in their own minds]: "I'm smarter than these obviously stupid experts". That's the kind of thing that needs to stop or be downvoted into oblivion.

Re:Popular Science (1)

EmperorOfCanada (1332175) | 1 year,25 days | (#44944327)

I love the breathless way that they report things that all boil down to: "Utah scientists will have us in flying cars in 5 years.".

Slashdot has a habit of doing the same thing in a subtly different way: "Biofuel company producing diesel from trees." But when you read the article it is two guys and a tiny test tube of a precursor to a precursor to diesel that they produced at huge cost but "Plan on increasing efficiency."

Figures, when your primary objective is... (2)

hsthompson69 (1674722) | 1 year,25 days | (#44944255)

..."bedrock scientific doctrine"

Do they even realize the inherent contradiction between "scientific" and "doctrine"?

Science is the ruthless pursuit of truth through falsifiable hypotheses, and *requires* challenges to any "doctrine", and *requires* the admission of error.

The lady doth protest too much, methinks.

Who cares... (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,25 days | (#44944281)

Popular science the magazine reached 90% pure ads years ago.
I imagine their website is the same way and have no desire to visit at all.

Most were pure spam (1)

EmperorOfCanada (1332175) | 1 year,25 days | (#44944291)

Nearly every article that I read in PopSci had comments about: "I have been earning $74 per hour since I learned the secrets of web sales." but this is not limited to PopSci. New Scientist (which I respect much more except for their stance on climate change) almost always has comments along the lines of "Feynman and Einstein are both about to be proven wrong by scientists in Utah who have been testing viable zero point energy units."

I am not exaggerating the above comments. I felt dirtied by their comments in that they had no system to eliminate them. Just as long as they don't cram in some external system like Discus (which I hosts file blocked a long time ago).

Simple "report this" or voting would easily eliminate the worst. Just take a look at the -1 comments in this very post. There is one titled "Walling Up The Wall" which I don't even understand. Why did someone waste their time typing that?

the only certainty (-1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,25 days | (#44944299)

is that the actions of man presently have no effect on climate.

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