[This] study contributes to the emerging literature on what some scholars have called the "nasty effect" of online user-generated comments โ€” an area that until recently has been much neglected by social scientists. Coe, Kenski, and Rains set out to examine the relative frequency of uncivil comments, whether there are certain contexts in which they are more prevalent, and how they affect the quality of debate. They analyze data from the Arizona Daily Star during late 2011; more than 6,400 comments, attached to 706 articles, were examined.

More than one in five comments (22 percent) contained incivility of some kind, and as a whole "55.5% of the article discussions contained at least some Incivility"; further, "The most prevalent form of incivility was name-calling, which took place in 14.0% of all comments." Those who commented only once over the period were more likely to demonstrate incivility than those commenting most frequently. Looking at associations with article content, the researchers found that "serious, 'hard news' topics appear to garner greater incivility. For example, articles about the economy, politics, law and order, taxes and foreign affairs all received roughly one uncivil comment for every four comments posted." One-third of articles containing a quotation from President Obama had an uncivil comment attached. However, when incivility was present, it was also more likely that someone in the discussion thread would cite evidence for her argument, suggesting that incivility can push debate in constructive ways, too.

"[C]ontrary to popular perceptions," Coe, Kenski, and Rains state, "those individuals who commented most frequently were not the ones proportionally most inclined to make uncivil remarks. Our data suggest that stereotypes of frequent posters dominating news sites with barrages of incivility are, if not unfounded, at least overstated."

Let's buck the trend : I think you smell and you suck.