It’s that time again! In lieu of the top comments of the week, we’re using this last Sunday of the year to look at the comments that racked up the most funny and insightful votes in all of 2017. We’ll be highlighting the top three comments in each category, and noting where they ranked in terms of combined votes as well. (For those of you who are still interested in this week’s winners, here’s first and second place for insightful, and first and second place for funny.)
The Most Insightful Comments Of The Year
In the last week of January, we were still reeling from the inauguration and choking on the words “President Trump” when the cheeto-in-chief hit us with another gut-punch: the disgusting and transparently racist Muslim travel ban, enacted via a sloppy and ill-fated executive order. Mike, like most decent people with any kind of platform, felt compelled to speak out, and his post about “Our Humanity” became (unsurprisingly) a busy discussion which swelled to nearly 400 comments in less than a month, and yielded both of our 2017 winners on the insightful side.
In first place, it’s one of our most prolific commenters and frequent winners: Roger Strong. Roger got in with the first comment, and used it well to deliver a simple but highly appropriate quote:
“The way a government treats refugees is very instructive because it shows you how they would treat the rest of us if they thought they could get away with it.”
– Tony Benn, British Minister of Parliament for 47 years
Not only did this rocket to the top of the insightful leaderboard, it hit second place on the list for combined insightful and funny votes as well — not because it racked up any votes for comedy, but just based on the sheer weight of its insightful votes. Yup: to probably nobody’s surprise, 2017 has been a year that demanded more thoughtfulness than cleverness, with the first place funny comment getting just barely more funny votes than the third place insightful comment got in its category — and staying well behind the second place winner for insightful. That winner? Mike Masnick himself, in an early reply to a critic of the travel ban post. As a general rule, we exclude staff comments from the weekly posts, but let’s make an exception for the year-end round-up and for Mike’s response (which also scored quite a lot of funny votes, bringing it to first place on the combined insightful-funny list) to the accusation that we were cherry-picking and making an emotional argument, and that only children are convinced by this:
Really? Because that seemed to be the basis of the entire platform of the President of the United States.
In third place, we have our only true anonymous winner this year (though the funny side is entirely pseudonymous commenters). It came in on the last day of August, in response to our post about Jeff Sessions attempting to use Hurricane Harvey as proof that the police need to be militarized. Someone claiming relevant expertise (naturally this can’t be confirmed, but they sure appear to deliver on that claim with a very convincing argument!) offered a much more practical way of looking at things:
Speaking as a first responder/first responder trainer…
What’s needed instead are exactly the kinds of resources that this administration wants to strip out of FEMA: simple, basic essentials that are relatively inexpensive and save lots of lives.
Let me give you a timely example. The Cajun Navy, bless their hearts, showed up in force in Houston to do whatever they could to supplement the hopelessly-overwhelmed local, state, and federal personnel. And now some of them are dead, because they didn’t have lifejackets (PFDs). A minimal PFD for this kind of work costs about $100, a good one is about $250, a bulk order for several thousand would no doubt drive the price down.
No, it’s not very cool and sexy and oh-gosh-look-at-the-pretend-soldiers, but it’s a basic tool that keeps people alive in situations where they’d otherwise die. A quarter-million dollars worth of PFDs is chump change in comparison with the overall expense — flying helicopters is REALLY expensive — but it would yield value far beyond its price.
That’s just one example. There are a lot of others, including swiftwater rescue training — something that almost none of the Houston city personnel have had because there’s no money for it. But SWR is essential for anyone trying to perform rescues in fast water, particularly in urban areas where there are all kinds of hazards under the surface. Two days of quality SWR instruction costs $250/student and is probably enough to keep them from dying while trying to keep other people from dying.
Harvey. Sandy. Katrina. This is the new normal. There will be another one. Soon. And money needs to be spent on basic gear and basic training before one of these turns into a multi-thousand person casualty event. So don’t buy the cops AR-15’s: buy them PFDs and SWR training. Those are FAR more likely to keep them alive.
That’s it for the insightful side. Now on to…
The Funniest Comments Of The Year
In first place on the funny side, we have our one and only returning winner from last year’s list. In 2016, A Non-Mouse got a special category all their own with an impressive outlier comment that won third place in the insightful and funny categories separately, and first place in combined votes. As noted, things are rather different this year, with the insightful side dominating the charts: the first place winner for funny only managed to squeak into the combined leaderboard at ninth place (and is the only top-three funny winner to crack that chart at all). But the comedy didn’t start with the comment — it started with the operator of allofgarden.com, an Olive Garden review website, who in July responded to a frivolous legal threat with an hilarious letter that, among other things, demanded a response “in limerick form”. Naturally, the limericks began rolling into the comments — and A Non-Mouse’s entry won the day by purposely misreading the “brandenforcements” email address that sent the initial threat:
There once was a man Branden Forcements
who confused some reviews for endorsements
His threats that came after
caused so much laughter
that perhaps he should seek new employments
In second place on the funny side, we have what is undoubtedly the shortest winning comment in Techdirt history (possibly tied for that spot, though certainly not beaten!) In early August, after a psychiatrist filed a ridiculous lawsuit over a completely wordless one-star review, frequent pseudonymous commenter Baron von Robber swooped in with the one-character comment that had to be made:
Finally, for third place we head back to May, when a hacker tried to extort money out of Netflix by threatening to leak the upcoming season of Orange Is The New Black, only to discover that he had deeply misunderstood Netflix’s business model and its ability to actually compete with piracy. This rendered his threats facile and futile — something that Michael, another frequent pseudonymous commenter, elegantly summed up with a brief bit of dialogue:
Hacker: “Pay me $60,000 or I am going to advertise for you!!!!”
Hacker: “That’s it! I’m starting my advertising campaign!”
And that, folks, is our round-up of the winning comments for the year! Keep up the great work everyone — I’m looking forward to seeing what comes in 2018. Happy new year!