Funniest/Most Insightful Comments Of The Year At Techdirt

from the 2019-edition dept

2019 has come to a close, and now it’s time for our annual round-up of the comments that racked up the most insightful and funny votes in the entire year! As usual we’ve got the top three in each category — and if you’re looking for this week’s winners, here’s first place and second place for insightful, and first place and second place for funny.

The Most Insightful Comments Of 2019

Back in April, we wrote about the Music Modernization Act and the problems with legacy industry players handling the royalties for independent songwriters. This garnered our first place winner for insightful in 2019 from Rico R. who shared his personal story as an example of how our copyright systems simply don’t serve smaller creators well:

I’m an independent musician, and this is the first time I’m hearing about this comment period on the Music Modernization Act, and it’s almost over! I say this with the utmost respect, but if Techdirt, a non-major small-time news operation, is the first time I hear about a potentially troubling implementation of updated copyright law in a way that directly affects me, there’s a major disconnect between legacy gatekeepers and actual creators. I have to wonder if legacy players are hoping that smaller independent artists (like myself) just don’t do anything so they can make money off of works they don’t own or represent. And they say that copyright law is designed to protect small creators like me? Yeah, right!!

For our second most insightful comment of 2019, we only have to head back a few weeks to when Teespring took down our Copying Is Not Theft gear (which you can now get on Threadless) based on confusing accusations of copyright infringement and/or some sort of unexplained policy violation. Anonymous Anonymous Coward arrived with the first comment on that post, and racked up the votes by expanding on the needlessly controversial slogan:

Not only not theft, but perfectly legal.

Recording broadcast programs is perfectly legal. That is in fact making a copy. It isn’t theft and the Supreme Court of the United States of America ruled in Sony Corp. of America v. Universal City Studios, Inc., 464 U.S. 417 (1984) that that was the law of the land. Now if one records a program and then tries to sell that copy, that would be wrong, and is definitely against the law. But this slogan ‘Copying is not theft’ says nothing about copying and then selling copies.

Conjecture, therefore leads me, for one, to believe that Teespring is bowing to pressure from some copyright maximalists who may or may not be threatening to remove their business from Teespring (or are pressuring them in some other way), and Teespring appears to value their volume of business (or fear whatever other threat was made) more than the volume of business from Techdirt. That tells us a lot about the integrity of the folks at Teespring.

I hope the new venue stands up better than the last one did.

Finally, for third place on the insightful side for 2019, we jump straight back to April and the release of our latest Sky Is Rising report about the state of the entertainment industries. We made reference (as we often do) to Jack Valenti’s infamous claim to Congress about the VCR: “I say to you that the VCR is to the American film producer and the American public as the Boston strangler is to the woman home alone.” Usually we talk about how wrong that notion is, but Mason Wheeler made his way to third place by taking a different angle:

Valenti was probably right… just not in the way he thought.

During the 1960s, the population of Boston was between approximately 640,000 and 700,000 people. Statistically, approximately half of them would have been women, and between approximately 65-70% of Americans were children during that time. A bit of quick math gives us approximately 100,000 adult women.

All those possible targets, and the Boston Strangler murdered a grand total of 13 of them.

The VCR was to the American film producer as the Boston Strangler was to the woman home alone: very scary to talk about, but the amount of actual damage done was negligible.

Though that figure about percentage of children appears to have been misread from an absolute figure, the point is well made! And that’s all for 2019’s most insightful comments. Now on to…

The Funniest Comments Of 2019

Though named commenters with active accounts dominated things on the insightful side this year, on the funny side we’ve got anonymous commenters taking the top two spots. In November, we wrote about the ridiculousness of claiming that the booming revenues of music collection societies somehow indicates the need for more draconian copyright laws. One commenter disagreed and quickly deployed the common assertion that strong copyright is the only way to prevent piracy and will inevitably only increase revenues, leading an anonymous respondent to win the most funny votes in the entire year with a thematically appropriate rejection of such well-debunked nonsense:

Bro that excuse is so old and busted that it?s in the public domain under current copyright laws.

Just two weeks before that, we wrote about the frustrating story of a California man who built a haunted house in his garage then later attempted to bully a theme park with trademark threats (only managing to get himself sued for his trouble). After the post suggested that the man should add an intellectual property wing to his haunted house (now that’s scary…) one anonymous commenter won second place for funny in 2019 by running with the idea:

Yeah and one of the monsters can be a 91 year old mouse that just. wont. die.

<whisper> the horror… the horror…

For our final winner, we head back to March when Steven Spielberg was making waves by lashing out at Netflix and trying to stop them from winning Oscars. His objection didn’t really seem to go beyond the fact that the Netflix model for making movies was different, and after one commenter pointed out that “we’ve always done it this way” is generally a terrible justification for anything, Boba Fat won third place for funny in 2019 by pushing back against this judgement:

Nonsense! We’ve always used that as our justification! We shouldn’t change it now.

And that, folks, is your winning comments for 2019! But before we go…

The Double Whammies

Though our comment rankings have always focused on the Insightful and Funny categories separately, we also keep track of which comments score the most combined votes across both. But this generally isn’t worth mentioning, as the leaderboard for combined votes is usually populated with the same comments that reached the top in either Insightful or Funny, driven entirely by their votes in that one category. And when there is a comment that racks up a lot of votes in both, it’s usually enough to win both individual categories as well. But this year’s leaderboard is very different: not only did none of the top three comments in either category make it into the top three for combined votes, only one of them (Mason Wheeler’s third-place winner for insightful) even made it into the top ten! And indeed, even if you dig deeper down into the leaderboards for Insightful and Funny, there’s very little overlap with the combined leaderboard at all — for once, there were lots and lots of comments that people thought were just about equally good at being funny and insightful even if they weren’t the best-of-the-best at either.

While we’re not going to start digging through this whole additional category in full, this unusual pattern was worth noting, and for those who are curious here’s first place, second place and third place for combined Insightful and Funny votes in 2019.

That’s all for 2019, folks! Keep the amazing comments coming, and we’ll be seeing you in the weekly rankings.

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Comments on “Funniest/Most Insightful Comments Of The Year At Techdirt”

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Funniest/most insightful comments of the decade

Maybe also a rolling count since voting was implemented. That would keep someone busy.

But really, i’m grateful for, and impressed by, the amount of community engagement and stats work. Another thing which makes this place unique (and even fun despite the sometimes somber and angering news discussed).

Anonymous Coward says:

Many tech companys copied the gui and mouse interface created at xerox park,
they refined it made it better, hence windows and many versions of linux with a gui and mouse based interface .The public was served cos it had the choice of various operating systems that used the idea of windows, files ,folders controlled by a mouse and a keyboard .
Copying is good for the public,
most tv remotes work in the same way ,with a similar design,vol,-.
+,channel – ,

  • a row of no,s ,which you press, eg press 10 to select channel 10.
    so when you buy a tv or a pc, you have a basic idea of how to use it.

Adrian Cherry (profile) says:

Most flagged comment award

Just for fun and sheer entertainment I think there should be an award for the most flagged comment. Just to see what the most outlandish claim could be – probably no shortage of candidates that I’ve missed. Or stats on the number of times Mike has been called a shill.

This sort of thing. 🙂

This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it.

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
Leigh Beadon (profile) says:

Re: Most flagged comment award

The idea has come up from time to time, but yeah, ultimately it just provides bad incentives and validates the wrong people. We don’t even actually have the Report tallies in our standard backend interface that shows the top-voted comments (though we could of course check if we really wanted to)

This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it.

This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it.

David says:

Curated audience

The most insightful and most funny comments do resonate with the tenor of the site which sort of reinforces the filter bubble problem. Now it would be educational to see what the "most insightful" and "most funny" comments "self-rated" by users of the Fox News side (and while we are at it, Breitbart?) are.

I said "educational". Not insightful or funny. And if you say "I don’t even want to know", we are back at the filter bubble. In the end, the largest bubble wins the elections.

Stephen T. Stone (profile) says:


I would bet real money that, in your experiment, both an “insightful” comment and a “funny” comment would involve insults aimed at Democrats, LGBT people, people from other countries, people of color, atheists, or any combination of the above. The cruelty, as they say, is the point — and for the Breitbart/Fox News crowd, the cruelty is all they have left.

This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

Well obviously it’s because they’re different, and since different is wrong clearly they are just begging to be mocked for shoving their wrongness in people’s faces by existing.

Ah the mind of a bigot, like wading through a cesspit, except unlike bigots cesspits don’t choose to be like that and therefore shoulder no blame for it.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Breitbart/Fox News crowd

“Those people you mention invite insults by their very existence. So what’s the problem? I know a lot of those people and they’re so used to it, they don’t even shrug anymore.”

Your people are the ones with the problem bro. What with being most precious snowflakes in existence bro. As evidenced by the frequency and volume with which thou doth protest.

David says:

Re: Re: Re:

Your contempt does not solve the problem. People want to be proud of who they are. We don’t just have white supremacy, we also have black pride, gay pride and so on. All those messages are unwelcoming or at least non-committal for most and garner their own filter bubbles, and the largest filter bubble with representation wins the elections. And the Fox bubble is larger than the Techdirt bubble.

And talking down the other bubbles is what gives them leverage and motivation to ignore you. Your contempt justifies theirs.

Good luck fixing the U.S. before it crash lands on top of the rest of the world.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Good luck fixing the U.S. before it crash lands on top of the rest of the world.

No chance. It may take a while longer but the US is destined to die a death at least as glorious as the Constitution’s framers imagined its birth to be. Hate and corruption will be the cause. Those invested in the US should pull out now, or very soon, to avoid the inevitable total devaluation of US currency.

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
Leigh Beadon (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Can I just bring us back down to earth for a moment and note that the subjects of the six top-voted comments featured in this post are (1) copyright (2) copyright (3) copyright (4) copyright (5) copyright+trademark and (6) movies.

Now as it happens I do strongly suspect (happily) that we have a lot fewer white supremacist fans than Fox News – but if we’re talking about "the Techdirt bubble" well… personally the only issue I’ve ever had is occasionally forgetting that most people don’t know anything about copyright.

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: 'One of these things is not like the others...'

We don’t just have white supremacy, we also have black pride, gay pride and so on.

Yeah, if you can’t figure out the difference between groups that have historically been maligned trying to stand up for themselves and show both those within and outside their group that there’s nothing wrong with said group, and a bunch of racist losers from a category that very much has not faced that sort of problem and is just trying to stroke their egos by trumpeting about how much better they than other races you really need to spend some more time thinking about the issue, because a conflation like that is not only bad it’s flat out insulting to those that are not racist losers but who you placed alongside as similar if not no different from.

This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it.

David says:

Re: Re: Re:2 'One of these things is not like the others...'

See how you want to make sure that people only find comfort within a single bubble proper for them? And once you do that, the largest bubble wins. That’s the Achilles heel of democracy.

Factionalisation works for majorities only. If you make minorities pride themselves on their skin color, heritage, uniqueness, culture: guess what the majority will do in return.

Inclusiveness works a lot more awkwardly psychologically/biologically: humans have a tribal history, and genocide is a natural impulse. It is also utterly incompatible with a civilized world order. If you teach the minorities to contain themselves in their bubble, the majorities will not be interested in going there.

"Alternate facts" sounds like an absurdity, but the bubbles make it feasible to entertain them.

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
Leigh Beadon (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 'One of these things is not like the others...'

Again I will remind you that you brought all this up, apropos of absolutely nothing, on a post highlighting popular comments that are almost all about the geeky minutiae of copyright law.

I think you might be the one trapped in a bubble and imposing a very narrow viewpoint on everything you see…

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
Leigh Beadon (profile) says:

Re: Curated audience

I totally get that it’s easy to forget this in our present moment, but: everything isn’t always only about the next election or America’s culture war.

We don’t base our decisions about our weekly community posts on some vague goal of being competitive with and/or opening a dialogue with Fox News. I don’t think that’s ever crossed my mind and really it strikes me as a pretty weird suggestion – why is America’s largest cable news network the counterpart to Techdirt for this comparison?

bhull242 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Curated audience

Come to think of it, has this site even mentioned Fox all that often? I see more criticism directed towards the NYT and WSJ and other print-based media than anything else. And when Fox is mentioned, it’s less a criticism of the outlet or its content and more of a criticism of people being interviewed on there, or it’s being lumped in with other news outlets, some of which aren’t even right-leaning.

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
bhull242 (profile) says:

Re: Curated audience

When I’ve had my comments vote “Insightful”, they were generally either detailed rebuttals or filled with facts and logical reasoning. That also appears to be the case for a number of other “Insightful” comments. So “Insightful” includes “Educational”.

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