Why Blog Comments Matter

Long-time readers know that I enjoy the vibrant forum they have helped create at Collide-a-Scape. Yes, I sometimes get cranky in the comment threads and yes, I sometimes dish out the snark as well as anyone. But I’m conscious of this behavior and I strive to lead by better example. Overall, I’m gratified by the frequent high level exchanges that occur at this site and often learn from them.

I’m also delighted that overheated verbal jousting has been kept to a minimum since the blog moved to Discover. And by the way, I’m told that the comment system will soon be overhauled, which I believe will include a number of improvements that readers have suggested. (If you have any more suggestions, feel free to offer them in the comments.) For example, I’m anxious that permalinks be provided for individual comments, so I can start highlighting your excellent observations and insights in my posts, which helps to maintain particularly interesting conversations that take shape in the threads.

Along these lines, I wanted to direct your attention to a new study published in the current issue of Science. You need a journal subscription to read it, so here’s how it’s being reported by one news outlet:

A new obstacle to scientific literacy may be emerging, according to a paper in the journal Science by two University of Wisconsin-Madison researchers.

The new study reports that not only are just 12% of Americans turning to newspaper and magazine websites for science news, but when they do they may be influenced as much by the comments at the end of the story as they are by the report itself.

So there it is. What you say matters.

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