Popular Science and the Impact of Trolling


It’s exceptionally sad to me to see a 141 year old magazine, Popular Science, shutting off commenting on its website because the effect that trolling comments is actually having on shaping people’s opinions about the issues presented. 
People still fear trolls. Or, at least, they avoid them. Maybe cross the river at other bridges, or decide not to cross the river at all?
It is precisely this type of story that motivates me to implement activities such as the Collaborative (T)Role-driven Reading Response. UW-Madison students, like others in higher education (and all students, I’d argue) should be able to negotiate past the trolls as they sift and winnow
I invite you to help me think through and develop more of these and other crucial “non-academic”  skills.
John Martin

One thought on “Popular Science and the Impact of Trolling

  1. I see this more as the unintended consequences of online commenting. The cost is very low, certainly compared to writing a Letter to the Editor, and the nature of the reader feedback changes. Shoot, there’s likely folks who barely read the articles commenting on them based on a Twitter feed or Google search looking for buzzwords like Climate. We have seen changes in publishing and what gets published the print format has changed with desktop publishing and the web. What’s common here is that as the cost of “publishing” goes down, the overall nature (and some argue quality) of what’s being written/read has changed.

    What I anticipate happening with Popular Science, and other mags, is they setup a digital style Letters to the Editor. Or maybe they already have. A filter, the Editor, which raises the cost. And perhaps the quality, I know I prefer this now, if the “trolls” are going to overrun the feedback channels (with a rather low signal to noise ratio). Sifting and winnowing, don’t ya know…

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