We need to talk about article comments

There's no nice way of putting this: it seems like the standard of comments on Verge articles has dropped off a cliff in the last couple of weeks.

It used to be, at least as long as no one brought up a certain topic, you'd get a fairly high proportion of cogent comments by people who'd actually read the article. It was often worth reading the comments for insightful viewpoints, interesting references and relatively civil debate. Now articles have hundreds of comments within hours of posting, and mostly it's a roiling foam of trolls and morons that makes YouTube look like a Jesuit debating society. What went wrong?

Has there been some recent change behind the scenes that has altered the demographics? Something to do with SEO, or the way articles are prioritised? Or is it just a side effect of becoming more popular?

And would it help to have some kind of filtering / collective moderation strategy like Slashdot or Reddit? Can there ever be a technical solution to people being just awful?