As we did last year, I’m going to use today to do a post on the comments that you, the community, voted as the funniest and most insightful comments in the year 2012. Normally the weekly lists include some “editor’s choice” comments, but that doesn’t make much sense on the yearly list, so instead you get the top five comments, as per their voting scores in each category. There was only one comment that made both lists (as you’ll see below), but it did surprise me that 7 of the 10 comments were “replies” to other comments, rather than thread-starting comments. If you’d asked, I would have said that thread-starters tend to get more votes, but that wasn’t true with so many of these comments. Also, five out of the 10 comments came from anonymous commenters — which (yet again) makes me wonder why so many sites insist that anonymous commenting is a bad thing. Either way, let’s jump right in on the insightful side.
First up, we have an Anonymous Coward, responding to a comment on in article from all the way back in February. The post was about companies looking to move their web businesses out of the US due to over aggressive law enforcement taking down entire websites. Someone in the comments suggested that the world needs agreement that the internet is not controlled by any government, and that resulted in the following comment which topped the most insightful category:
As long as there are governments that consider “information” or “content” to be dangerous, we’ll be dealing with this.
That includes (but not limited to) the following:
National security secrets
Bomb and weapon-making information
If you stand for unfettered freedom-of-speech and information sharing, you must also be capable of accepting much of the above.
Personally, I think the above examples of information are not nearly as dangerous as some make them out to be – I’d rather live in a world where global transparency and honesty is more important than my personal safety – we stand a better chance of surviving the future that way.
In second place, we’ve got JEDIDIAH, who responded to a story in September about how the content industry keeps “punishing” those of us who actually pay for our content by limiting/crippling it. In response, JEDIDIAH tried to add some insightful perspective:
Remember the bottom line.
If you’re really worried about the money, a pirate and a lost customer “doing without” look exactly the same.
Being sanctimonious gains you nothing.
Coming in third was John Fenderson, responding to the bizarre claims of a Canadian politician who argued that ripping your legally purchased CD so you could listen to it on your musical device of choice was like buying socks, but then stealing the shoes to go with them. No, it didn’t make any sense then either. But John tried to help out with a better analogy:
Let me fix that for him
Ripping a CD to your iPod is like buying a pair of socks then wanting to wear them with one of your other pairs of shoes.
In fourth place… we actually have the most voted on comment of the year — when you count both the insightful and funny scores. This comment was actually voted the funniest overall comment of the year and the fourth most insightful. Oh yeah, and it’s by an anonymous commenter. It was from a story from June about the RIAA’s own admitted cluelessness over how Google’s DMCA takedown tools worked. The RIAA made a bunch of claims attacking Google, which were simply not true, as could be easily observed if you just looked at the tool in question. In response to this story, one commenter joked that the RIAA wouldn’t be satisfied until Google had a “click here to stop piracy” button. That resulted in this awesome comment that so many of you liked:
Actually, Google should on April 1st should have a “Click HERE to stop piracy” button.
When you click it a message pops up “Piracy has been stopped!”
Then two seconds later a message pops up “Oh noes! They’ve figured a way to work around our measure! Click the button!”
Repeat as necessary.
Coming in fifth on the insightful side, we’ve got Chosen Reject’s comment from back in February, in response to a story about why innovation was the best way to deal with the entertainment industry’s concerns about piracy, because focusing on “stopping piracy” was an impossible task. One critic responded in the comments with a pithy retort about how that was like saying we should make murder legal since it was impossible to stop. In stepped CR with this insightful response:
I’ll leave aside your asinine analogy as others have already pointed that out and just say that you forgot the other part concerning innovating. So let’s run with your analogy: Who cares if murder is wrong if stopping it is impossible and innovating provides better solutions?
For example, what if, rather than just increasing penalties for murder and hiring more law enforcers, we hired more counselors and arbitrators to provide counseling and arbitration free of charge to angry people. Let’s say we try this and find that it reduces the murder rate more than increasing penalties and detectives does. Would you still say stand up on your soapbox and shout that penalties need to be stiffer and more detectives need to be hired?
What if having job location services, education opportunities, and access to medical and mental health care were to reduce violent crime (including murders) more than banning guns would? Would you still petition for stricter gun control laws?
This can be applied anywhere. What if lowering the tax rate and simplifying the tax code were to reduce tax fraud and raise revenues? Would you be asking for more IRS workers to conduct more tax audits? What if building sidewalks overpasses or underground streets in school zones reduced car accidents? Would you still be advocating 15mph speed zones? What if legalizing drugs and providing addiction recovery help and other self help systems for drug addicts reduced the amount of drug users and/or drug related crime? Would you still be crying for longer jail terms?
What if Hollywood provided a service that was better than the Pirate Bay and that reduced infringement and brought in revenue? Would you still be asking for increased fines for infringement? Oh wait, you are. Never mind, I guess you don’t care about results, you only care about what you think is “right”.
Moving over to the funny side, we already had the top voted comment above (as the fourth most insightful), so we’ll add in a freebie at the end. Starting with the comment that came in second on the funny scale, we’ve got Jay responding to a story back in August about how non-sponsor condoms were banned in the Olympic Village (though 150,000 sponsor-laden condoms were distributed). Jay had a simple question about sex at the Olympics:
I have to wonder: do you still get a gold medal if you come in first?
By reading this comment you agree to be legally bound to immediately throw your computer out of the nearest window.
Unfortunately, the original commenter proceeded to engage in complete cognitive dissonance, pretending that the situation was different, and continued commenting, almost certainly without throwing his computer out of the nearest window. Shame.
The forth funniest comment came from another anonymous commenter, back in July, in response to the story about the MPAA pointing to a bunch of crappy online movie/tv services to insist that no one should complain that it’s impossible for them to legally watch Game of Thrones online in the UK. Of course, none of those services provided Game of Thrones in the UK. That resulted in this comment highlighting the insanity of the situation.
Consumers: We would like to pay you for x
Distributors: We don’t want your stinking money.
Distributors: We aren’t making as much money as we think we should be making.
Politicians: How about we pass laws effectively tax people but give you the proceeds.
Distributors: That’s not enough.
Politicians: Well what do you want?
Distributors: We’re spending a fortune trying to enforce copyright against the vast bulk of the global population.
Politicians: Ah, so that’s why you’re making less money.
Distributors: Well strictly speaking no, but if you’re willing to believe that against all evidence, then why not.
Politicians: How about we take over the vast bulk of those costs that you are currently wasting on ineffective recourse to the law to fix a problem that isn’t actually affecting you?
Distributors: Well, that’s something but we still get the feeling that you’re not really trying.
Sounds about right.
The fifth funniest comment, also from an anonymous commenter, is in response to a nutty story about the NSA spreading FUD about how Anonymous might one day hack power grids. That story included a really ridiculous argument: “A stateless group like Anonymous doesn’t yet have that capability, officials say. But if the group’s members around the world developed or acquired it, an attack on the power grid would become far more likely, according to cybersecurity experts.” In other words, they can’t do x, but if they could do x, maybe they’d do x. That led to the following comment noting that Anonymous might, you know, kinda want to keep the power up for its own purposes:
Anonymous doesn’t yet have the capability to run computers without a power source, officials say. But if the group’s members around the world developed or acquired it, an attack on the power grid would become far more likely, according to cybersecurity experts who spend their time giving stupid quotes for stupid articles.
And, since we lost the top “funny” comment to the insightful list, you also get the sixth funniest comment, from ahow628, responding to a story about how a conference of IP maximalists had a panel discussion on the importance of social media to counter the claims of people who were questioning the value of IP. The panel discussion noted that some IP maximalists actually have their own blogs and a few even use Twitter and Facebook, and thus they were ready to create an effective social media campaign in favor of IP maximalism. We suggested this was silly, but ahow628 suggested we were underestimating what was going to happen:
In your face, Mike…
Boy are you going to look stupid when their millions of blog readers, Twitter followers, and Facebook likers stand up and say, “We want – NAY, DEMAND – the content we consume be more expensive, less convenient, and of lower quality!”
Egg. On. Your. Face.
Rightfully shamed into submission, I’ll end this post now. Have a happy New Year’s, and we’ll be back on Wednesday with the next batch of posts for those of you who want to shoot to top next year’s “funniest/most insightful” comments list…