The New York Times' Virginia Heffernan has taken a dim view of the phenomenon of reader comments attached to online posts. They disappoint, they fail to persuade, they rant and rave, they do everything but what they should set out to do, she asserts.
Heffernan's pt feels very much like the broad brush stroke she ascribes to those who take the time to comment on columns and perspectives. It's only anecdotally researched and fails to find any of the many valuable uses for the involvement of readers in the content.
Rather than explore the purpose of comments, she has chosen to decry them and spend precious little time on understanding the ways in which some outlets (like Slate.com, for instance) have modified the free-for-all to improve the quality of submissions.