Funniest/Most Insightful Comments Of 2016 At Techdirt

from the a-whole-year-of-comments dept

Happy new year, everyone! It’s time for our annual look back at the highest-scoring comments of the year, and this time around we’ve got first and second place winners in both categories then a special third-place entry. (If you want to know this week’s winners, here’s first and second place for insightful, and first and second place for funny.)

Most Insightful Comments Of The Year

For 2016’s first place winner on the insightful side, we only have to head back to September, when terrorism scares in New York and New Jersey prompted Hillary Clinton to call on Silicon Valley, once again, to nerd harder and find a way to stop radicalization. Norahc racked up the votes with a smart rebuke:

Nerd Harder?

Perhaps if in her role as Secretary of State, she had “diplomat harder” we might have found a way to prevent the radicalization of people. Then again, that would entail people like her (including the other candidate) having to do real work instead of demanding other people work harder.

Next, we go all the way back to February, where we have the only one of this year’s winners who appeared on last year’s list. That One Guy took first place for insightful last year, and this year he made it to second place with a response to the latest (at the time) claim that people don’t need faster broadband:

“No one needs that much, no one will ever use it!”

Saying that no one needs a 25 Mbps connection because a single user/service won’t use it completely is rather like saying that there’s no point in building multi-lane roads or highways because a single car will never be able to take up more than one lane.

Funniest Comments Of The Year

At this point, there’s a well-established tradition among commenters here at Techdirt that most people reading this post are probably familiar with: whenever we are critical of Google (which is not too infrequent an occurrence) at least one commenter must sarcastically chime in to accuse us of being Google “shills”, in order to highlight the absurdity of the small community of trollish commenters who make the same claim sincerely. It happened many times this year, and one such time — after we expressed some serious irritation at a major fail by Google’s link shortening service in September — gave JD the chance to win funniest comment of 2016:

Just more proof …

Clearly this is just more proof that Mike Masnick is a Google shill.

Many people have bemoaned the celebrity deaths of 2016, to the point that it’s getting pretty tiresome — but there’s no denying that the loss of David Bowie back in January hit plenty of people pretty hard. Amidst the calls for radio stations to do all-day tributes and the like, we took a moment to point out that US copyright law generally makes such a thing impossible. Our second place comment on the funny side comes from an anonymous commenter who, in thinking even further about the bigger picture, beautifully highlighted the extent to which so much of copyright law just makes no sense:

The saddest thing is that Bowie only has an incentive to write new music for 70 more years.

The Special Third Place But Kind Of First Place Winner!

In last year’s annual roundup, we highlighted the top three comments on each side plus an extra comment that had only ranked on the combined votes scale but not in either category. This year, something a little different happened: one comment came in at third place on both the funny and insightful sides, and in doing so also came in first place on the combined votes leaderboard. It came way back in January, when cryptographer David Chaum announced worrying plans to help build a backdoored encryption system to please agencies like the FBI, which would supposedly be kept safe by being controlled by nine server administrators around the world. A-Non Mouse spotted a tiny detail that was equal parts funny and insightful:

Who holds the keys?

“…nine server administrators…”

Let me put that another way:


Amusingly, another commenter immediately replied to ask: “Is this the best comment of 2016?” Well, according to the combined votes for funny and insightful, it was indeed.

That’s all for this week year, folks!

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Comments on “Funniest/Most Insightful Comments Of 2016 At Techdirt”

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Anonymous Coward says:

Trumpology 101: Best ≠ Winning the Most Votes

This was fail for me.

The first part of the remark might have succeeded as funny, if left to itself.

"Perhaps if in her role as Secretary of State, she had "diplomat harder" we might have found a way to prevent the radicalization of people."

Alone, that statement would have incisively captured the impossibly difficult task of diplomacy with respect to the solution of radicalization. The problem for me came when the second part of the comment was added.

"Then again, that would entail people like her (including the other candidate) having to do real work instead of demanding other people work harder."

Now the author implies a meander into the land of the possible, the world not bounding the "nerd harder" meme. "Nerd Harder" is about foolish/ignorant/lazy people pushing responsibility for the impossible onto others. The first half of the latter, winning, funny comment implies a belief that doing "real work" in diplomacy might possibly succeed at reducing radicalization, and that kills the humor.

Once again 2016 proves that getting the most votes doesn’t really make you the best.

Paul Renault (profile) says:

Re: Trumpology 101: Best ≠ Winning the Most Votes

Grrr! I have to go work harder – five minutes ago – in my nerd-like job. So I can’t properly demolish this anonymous comment:
I have met many people who seem to think that their position in life entitles them to a job that consists of ordering other people to work; work that these entitled people have no idea how it’s done, or how it works.
In that particular story, the nerds, after telling these entitled people that the laws of mathematics make their requests impossible, are told that “Oh, no, it’s that you’re not working hard enough”.


Meanwhile, in this particular case, I’m with the insightful-winning commenter: What, oh what, has Clinton ever done/achieved? Not what has she ever claimed to have done, but really done? For women? For children? For world peace?

I’d accept failing after trying. But she never even tried. says:

Nine Kings

“Who holds the keys?

“…nine server administrators…”

“Let me put that another way:


Keys go on rings, right? If so, it’s not the 9 NSAgul that worry me… it’s their boss.

“One Ring to rule them all, One Ring to find them,
One Ring to bring them all and in the darkness bind them”

I can type that without worrying about copyright, right?

Leigh Beadon (profile) says:

Re: Long tail?

Yeah on a year-long scale, the tail of comment voting is too short to make much of a difference. Maybe it’s a little longer than a few days for a very popular post, but even then it’s not a long tail. Also, comments buried deep within ongoing threads on a post tend to be at a disadvantage too, versus higher-level comments and especially the first few comments (though truly brilliant later comments do frequently enough buck this trend).

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