Science magazine reported on the effects of nasty comments about science stories online: Not only do they fail to improve debate, they also make people stupider. The "nasty effect," as the researchers call it, has a polarizing effect in that readers react by becoming more entrenched in their previous opinions, whether positive or negative.
—Stephen Marche, "There Are No Saints Online," Esquire, May 1, 2013
But the nasty effect isn't new, or unique to the Internet. Psychologists have long worried about the difference between face-to-face communication and more removed ways of talking—the letter, the telegraph, the phone. Without the traditional trappings of personal communication, like non-verbal cues, context, and tone, comments can become overly impersonal and cold.
—Maria Konnikova, "The Psychology of Online Comments," The New Yorker, October 24, 2013