We professional communicators have long known that using third-party influencers can be instrumental to building credibility with media and other stakeholders and catapulting your message, product or service to a new level.

This Story Stinks, an article from Sunday’s The New York Times about a study of the increasingly common “readers comments” feature on journalistic web sites and blogs, is frightening in its own way.

To quote the authors, “The results were both surprising and disturbing. Uncivil comments not only polarized readers, but they often changed a participant’s interpretation of the news story itself.”

What do you think? Do “nasty reader comments” affect your perceptions of an article? If so, in what way? Negatively or positively?