A scientific study on reader comments to online articles revealed a very interesting thing -- uncivil, nasty comments poison the perception of the article itself:
Half the people saw the article with (invented) polite, civil and constructive comments. The other half was given the same article but with uncivil comments – essentially a flame-war in the fake commenting thread... [which] polarized the opinion of readers, leading them to misunderstand the original article.
Emphasis mine. After about ten (!) years of blogging, I've suspected something like this phenomena was the case, which is why comments on New World Notes are moderated by a "cocktail party" standard. They're pretty simple: If what you're about to write is something that would be considered rude or boorish at a cocktail party, best to think about rephrasing.
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