Women Who Stray

Notes on the history and current practice of female infidelity

Trolls Can Go Back to the Bridge

From now on, my blogs will not allow comments

Trolls and negative comments do more harm than good

Popular Science magazine has recently decided to ban comments on their site. This follows the publication of important research that demonstrates the negative impact of flamewars and ugly comments. I hope more sites dedicated to thoughtful exploration of science and research do the same thing. I think it is important to preserve the integrity and value of scientific dialogue. Fox News style debate now rules dialogue in our society, and whoever shouts the loudest and most repetitively seems to win an argument, and appear right, no matter the opinion of an educated, experienced expert. The attacks of trolls, negative commenters, profane and off-topic commenters negatively affects the impression of readers of the original article.

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There ARE thoughtful, creative and informative people who post comments on my blogs. Bless them. I'm sad to see their words go away. I hope they will email me their often useful, productive ideas. But, their ideas and words are not heard, any more than mine are, when comments sections devolve into libel and rhetoric.

Like most PT bloggers, I've received any number of hideous, inflammatory, attacking, off-topic, polemic, personal comments. When I delete them, I've been accused of censorship. Once, commenters on a blog began publicly attacking a prominent researcher in mental health, making untrue statements about his experience, training, perspectives and credentials. He asked me to delete the comments. When I did so, I was attacked.

  • Commenters on my blogs often hijack the comment section, to advertise their own blogs, beliefs and opinions. Comments on any of my blogs on erectile dysfunction or porn addiction are great examples, where commenters take over the comment section and use it to trumpet their own beliefs. This is not peer review. Let these people write their own blogs to challenge my opinions, experience, research and data. Better yet, let them publish in peer-reviewed literature, where their ideas and beliefs can be appropriately challenged. That's where, and how, scientific dialogue should occur. That's how science moves forward.
  • One or two of my blogs have had the comments sections become borderline porno story sections, where people post their sexual escapades with the kink I wrote about. I'll let you search them out, if you are inclined to do so. I'm leaving existing comments up, but will turn off comments on all future blogs (including this one).
  • Dialogue in the comments section is rarely useful or effective, and definitely not productive.
  • Comments to and about other professionals mentioned in my blogs have negatively affected those people, even leading to situations of Internet stalking.
  • I and many other bloggers have had commenters report serious mental illness, relationship issues and suicidal desires. When these statements are made on a site that bears my name, I feel an ethical responsibility to those people. But, my ability to respond effectively is limited. I think people with these needs deserve suport. But they won't get it on the comments section, and I'm no longer willing to allow them to think that they will find legitimate, useful help in the comments section.

If all commenters were this cute, I wouldn't have to turn off comments.

I do not have the time or inclination to moderate a discussion group on every one of my blogs. That's not why I write for Psychology Today. My blogs are intended to educate, promote dialogue, and to provoke thoughtful consideration. My intent is to invite readers to consider the scientific, psychological, and social issues involved in their decisions, opinions and actions.

Here are links to several discussion groups and forums where readers can discuss the issues I raise:

Mental Health Message Board

Women's Health on Sex

Men's Health on Sex

Readers who want to write me an email are welcome to do so. I can be contacted through the PT website. I may or may not respond. If you want to have a useful, productive dialogue, I may write you back, if I have time. If you want to flame me, and attack me, feel free, but know that I will either delete your email, or save it to use for future purposes, if you continue to contact me.




David J. Ley, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist and author of Insatiable Wives, Women Who Stray and The Men Who Love Them, available from Rowman & Littlefield Publishers.


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