Flaming as pollution

David Pogue (New York Times) worries about another kind of pollution overwhelming popular user-contributed content sites: flaming.

In 2007, the challenge may be keeping that conversation from descending into the muck.
As a Web 2.0 site or a blog becomes more popular, a growing percentage of its reader contributions devolve into vitriol, backstabbing and name-calling….One thing is clear, however: the uncivil participants are driving away the civil ones. The result is an acceleration of the cycle, and an increasing proportion of hostile remarks.

Interesting point. Flaming isn’t new, but that doesn’t mean it should be ignored: it does tend to degrade the quality of otherwise valuable open access resources.
Are there incentive-centered designs that could reduce flaming? Pogue mentions requiring real names, though he acknowledges that might drive away many desirable users. He concludes that people may just have to accept flaming the way they accept spam: can’t we do better?