This article, This Story Stinks – NYTimes.com, received some bad comments itself, mostly for stating the obvious (or at least the obvious to some people on twitter). I think it is worth reading, though, because it verifies what we suspected: negative comments have an effect on a reader. Indeed, as the article states
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.
It would be great if more people learned to not read the comments, but they do. Bad comments, like spam, are one of the awful things about the Internet. It needs to be treated seriously and tackled with energy. Studies like this will help us decide how to do this and proceed.