Comments on the internet got a lot of attention yesterday around the web. Two different sources took two very different approaches to how it will handle what can be the worst place on the internet. Google announced that it will give users the ability to moderate comments and thereby try to curb trolls and haters. Popular Science just went ahead and did away with comments completely.
According to the Washington Post, Google is allowing YouTube video creators to moderate the comments by being able to block certain words and automatically approving certain people. Google is also giving G+ preferential treatment by surfacing comments from people who are in the video creator's circles. Other comments that will be pushed to the top are from the creator, well-known commenters, and those actively involved in a discussion.
By incorporating Google+, Google is pushing their social media site, encouraging users have non-anonymous names and finding a way to further push for a one-name concept for all of Google's services.
Also on Tuesday, Popular Science explained why, rather than trying to fix the commenting system, they're going to abandon it altogether. The magazine published an article online explaining, for scientific reasons, why comments on their articles can do more harm than good. Online Editor Suzanne LaBarre wrote, "But even a fractious minority wields enough power to skew a reader's perception of a story, recent research suggests."
That study showed that when a reader read a comment with an insult or an epithet, which usually come from biased commenters, the reader's perception was altered and it completely changed the way the reader interpreted the text. All it could take to undo an article on scientific findings is a, " How could you morons not understand this?"
Now, that alone wasn't the reason the comments got the axe. Their logic follows: “If you carry out those results to their logical end--commenters 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."
With these two approaches, it will be interesting to see how internet commenting can change. Obviously, Popular Science doesn't account for the majority of readers on the internet, but if trolls enjoyed those particular avenues for hawking their hate, they might take their pageviews elsewhere. And internet trolls will never go away, but it's refreshing to see Google take on what has become an uncomfortable truth on the internet.
Do you think these changes with positively impact hateful and irrelevant comments on the internet?