'Nasty effect' of user comments
Flaming comments distort perceptions of what an article really says.
User comments help keep blogs like the Daily Dose alive and interesting. The information superhighway, as the Web was once known, is a two-way road on which those who produce the content and those who absorb it now share the same lanes. The internet is a great equalizer and a powerful democratizer.
It’s a fantastic design with mixed results.
In our experience, user comments are sometimes flattering, sometimes funny and often add insight. But more than any other quality, they are polarizing — and are often written to cut either the writer or other commenters to the quick.
Some users wield sharp words while others convey their thoughts more bluntly. Stories touching on religion, sexual orientation and constitutional rights have been the flashpoints for some especially fiery exchanges.
More from MSN Living: The powerful women who wear bangs
Anonymity seems to play some role in viciousness, we’ve noticed, as the attacks are harsher here in the messageboards than on our Facebook page, where the connection between one’s comments and identity seems to play a role in responding more thoughtfully and civilly.
User comments have a significant impact on a reader’s perception of an article, not only polarizing the reader’s opinion but altering his or her understanding of what the story actually says.
Two professors of science communication at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, have observed this phenomenon and nicknamed it “the nasty effect.” In yesterday’s “New York Times,” Dominique Brossard and Dietram A. Scheufele described a study in which they asked 1,183 participants to carefully read a news post about a new technology on a fictitious blog, review other users’ comments, and then respond to questions about the content of the article.
More from MSN Living: 2013 Good Housekeeping VIP (Very Innovative Products) Awards
Readers exposed to civil reader comments maintained their initial impressions about the fictitious post. But those exposed to rude comments – like, “if you don’t see the benefits…you’re an idiot” and “you’re stupid if you’re not thinking of the risks” — were polarized in their opinions about the technology covered in the article.
Reading other users’ attacks caused some readers to believe there were greater risks and problems with the technology despite what had been reported in the article.
The facts put forth in a scientific article were distorted when seen through the lens of nasty commenters. But users didn’t recognize the lens.
There’s a force behind the comments of fellow users that’s yet to be quantified or understood. As a footnote to their study, the authors noted hopefully, “It’s possible that the social norms in this brave new domain will change once more — with users shunning meanspirited attacks from posters hiding behind pseudonyms and cultivatins civil debate instead.”
Tell us what you think. You know, in a nice way.
Photo: Mark Bowden/Getty Images
inspire: live a better life
Summer and winter tend to hog all the glory when it comes to travel high seasons. Sure, you want to soak up all the time at the beach you can during the summer, and you just want to escape the cold during the last months of the year.
Who just wants to stand around and watch the red and gold leaves slowly fall from their tree branches to the ground as we move from summer to fall? Instead, take in the changing seasons while you're on the move.
In September, I'll turn 38. I'm at the age now where, when people ask how old I am, it takes me a minute to remember. I don't know if that's because I've already been 37 different ages and it's hard to keep straight which one I am now, or if it's because I'm in denial, or if it's because I am going senile. Maybe a combination of all of the above. Regardless, my 30s have flown by and soon they will be but a memory. So, in an effort to preserve the memory I have left (or at least keep a record of it), and to celebrate what has been an amazing decade so far, here are 30 things that have happened to me in my 30s (and will probably happen to you too):
Traveling doesn't have to be stressful. And what you can fit in your carry-on can make all the difference (and not just a fresh pair of socks), especially when you get that low battery signal.
Volunteering (and these other rituals) might be just as good as exercise when it comes to extending your life.
Use these tricks to set a better tone for the rest of the week.
Whether it involves a food fight, mermaids or a torch-lit procession, people the world over know how to have a good time. Here are some of the biggest, boldest, booziest celebrations around, along with some tips to get the full experience.
Research could mean more effective treatment for human disorders.
An entry a day might keep the doctor away (or at least the shrink).
One woman's shout-outs to daily moments of joy — and how to cultivate them.
Our best health and fitness tips including the one move that tones all, berry news, and more.