well-prepared elk is astoundingly delicious
And there's the difference - A sadly large number of people's experience with elk is the elk that someone shot, threw in the back of their truck, then drove 12 hours before cleaning it. The best wild game (deer, not elk, but same principle) I've had was shot on a friends ranch, cleaned at the nearest tree, then immediately taken inside, wrapped, and frozen (to await the cwd results, of course).
Gawker, Jezebel, Gizmodo, io9 and Lifehacker have none of the above -- and if they have moderation it is heavy handed deletionary censorship. So all they get is drive-by shootings or white panel vans with painted over windows offering free candy.
As a regular of lifehacker, I dispute the way you placed it in the same category as gawker, jezebel, and gizmodo. The larger sites, with the larger audiences, attract a readership with a shorter attention span, who just come for the headlines. Denton himself (though I can't find the source at the moment, will keep looking) said that Lifehacker is one place where comments have succeeded - there's a lot of good discourse that happens there, and often gets incorporated back into the articles themselves. The other ones, I don't bother with the comments anymore.
It is masked but always present. I don't know who built to it. It came before the first kernel.