Online Comment Sections Going Extinct: Reader Reactions, Discussions, Migrating To Social Media

Read a story or column online lately that prompted a reaction you wanted to communicate? But when you scrolled down to leave your comment, there was nowhere to do so?

Well, expect more of the same, as many websites do away with their online comment sections, a reaction partly due to internet trolls, but also the natural evolution of social media.

While the ability to leave online comments has become something often taken for granted, in the pioneering days of the internet, the ability to express one’s thoughts and reactions, debate, belittle, and sometimes be anonymously rude, was revolutionary, such real-time interactive forums jumping seemingly light years ahead of similar, more traditional print forums like letters to the editor.

But also like CDs, MySpace, and American Idol, most revolutionary things come to pass, and such may be the case with website’s online comment sections, as some emerging trends show they’re on the conveyor belt toward cyber-doom, reports CNN.

One website, Re/Code, a popular and well-regarded tech blog, announced Thursday that they’d dropped the curtain on their online comment forums, instead guiding their users to social media for comments and discussion. Though Re/Code was also making changes to enhance the overall performance of their site for their users, losing the comments section wasn’t a thoughtless decision.

“The biggest change for some of you will be that we have decided to remove the commenting function from the site. We thought about this decision long and hard, since we do value reader opinion. But we concluded that, as social media has continued its robust growth, the bulk of discussion of our stories is increasingly taking place there, making onsite comments less and less used and less and less useful.The announcement was just the latest in a recent wave of prominent websites removing or significantly scaling back their comment sections. Reuters, Popular Science and the Chicago Sun-Times have recently nixed comments.”

One plague of online comment forums has always been the internet troll, a creature often perceived to be destitute and isolated in their mother’s basement, hacking away on their keyboard to design online comments that are as rude and obnoxious as possible.

Where the trolls migrate remains to be seen, but many of the websites that are parting ways with their comment sections are reportedly doing do so because of a “lack of civility” showcased in their online comment boards.

Popular Science is another entity that felt getting rid of their comments section was for the best.

“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.”

So if you want to fire off an online comment to Popular Science or Re/Code, please proceed to a social media outlet.

Meanwhile, any online comments for this story, troll driven or otherwise, feel free to enter below… At least for now.