Originally posted on Finally, A Feminism 101 Blog:
I have had a long post in the works about comment moderation following on from Part 1 in this series from September last year, but RealLife™ intervened and I hadn’t been able to complete it.
Luckily Bora Zivkovic at Blog Around The Clock has a long and detailed post full of relevant links which includes pretty much every point I wanted to make. I’m providing a summary of his headings with some meaty quotes below, but please make sure to click through and read his post in full in order to see all the points he makes and the many link citations he provides.
A couple of weeks ago, an article was published in Science about online science communication (nothing new there, really, that we have not known for a decade, but academia is slow to catch up). But what was interesting in it, and what everyone else jumped on, was a brief mention of a conference presentation that will be published soon in a journal. It is about the effect of the tone of comments on the response of other readers to the article on which the comments appear. [...]
They specifically chose a topic about which most people know very little and do not already have any opinion. Neither the article nor the comments contain sufficient information to turn the readers into experts on the subject. So they have to use mental heuristics – shortcuts – to decide what to think about this new subject. Uncivil, aggressive comments resulted in quick polarization. Readers, although still not well informed about the topic, quickly adopted strong opinions about it.