The world of anonymous internet discussion is an odd one. It’s also a pain in the media’s side. Finding balance between censoring comments and moderating for personal attacks and trolling is a difficult and relatively new conundrum. But when done right, it can also be an enriching and helpful exercise. Put simply, online discourse ranges on a spectrum from society’s worst that can include racist, hateful, or even violent threats to a modern-day “marketplace of ideas” that promotes and encourages mutual understanding and amplifies, rather than detracts from, the reporting itself.
At Poets&Quants, we see it all. We read comments thoroughly throughout the year and also take stock of them at year’s end. Again this year, we decided to compile our favorites. Some are rebukes to trolling and mean comments. Others are witty rejoinders that made us laugh out loud and share with fellow staffers in the P&Q office. And some are so simply outlandish that we had to give them a second airing.
Below, see our ten favorite reader comments from this past year. Above all else, thanks for reading and commenting.
One of the more prominent commenters on P&Q is C. Taylor. And in an article about the Wisconsin MBA debacle towards the end of 2017, C. Taylor got caught up in an odd exchange with a commenter named “Guerilla.” C. Taylor kicks off the comments by posting:
“Solid piece, John. Wisconsin’s MBA is too great to shut down. Shares the lead for best in its tier.
“I don’t see anyone going into a deanship planning on announcing the closure of the MBA program within two months of starting.
“Someone was playing hardball in the no-dean-zone between Ortalo-Magné and Massey. Only blame that can be laid at Massey’s feet here is the failure to knock a few heads and put the plan on ice pending more serious examination.
“Who? The PhD program and centers would be the first place I’d look for an ossified goat or five. This power play / act of guerrilla warfare should be laid directly at their feet and used as kindling where appropriate.”
Except at the time, C. Taylor wrote “gorilla” instead of “guerilla.” For which “Guerrilla” had some input.
“Yo my dude it’s ‘guerrilla’ not ‘gorilla.’ Please get it right,” Guerrilla responded.
C. Taylor took the feedback well.
“Haha! Thanks for catching that, Guerilla. I hereby award you two bananas,” C. Taylor wrote. “You can’t beat free human spellcheckers.”
That is nice of C. Taylor, but if the commenter is Guerrilla and not Gorilla, we’re confused as to if she/he would actually want bananas.
Some things can be counted on to rile our commenters. Rankings. Rising GMAT scores. And, apparently, Yale’s School of Management. One particular comment thread contained all three necessary ingredients for nuclear comment mode. The article, published in September, was a rundown of the average GMAT scores being reported by schools for the incoming Class of 2017. Nearly all top schools reported year-over-year gains, many of which had record averages. Stanford’s Graduate School of Business, Northwestern’s Kellogg, Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, and Chicago Booth posted the top four scores.
“It’s pretty clear that the top 4 schools are Stanford, Kellogg, Booth, and Wharton. If you go to those elite schools, you’re likely pretty smart,” a commenter named “trey” said.
That of course got a smattering of responses from all sorts of commenters, including our Editor-in-Chief, John Byrne. But our favorite?
“Whatever you are smoking, it’s potent… you should bottle it up and sell it to Yale SOM,” Anon wrote.
Speaking of Kellogg and Booth, their rivalry or pseudo-rivalry popped up in multiple comment threads throughout the year. In a November article that dissected Booth’s Class of 2017 employment report, things got heated. And then not heated. It started — as it so often did last year — with avivalasvegas, who riled other commenters throughout the year.
“Truly a sad day for Boothies. I’m forecasting a rankings slide, as this deviation from their focus is exactly what happened at Kellogg, their rival program,” avivalasvegas wrote.
Of course in the world of anonymous internet posting, it’s unclear who exactly avivalasvegas is, whether she or he holds an MBA, and if so, where they went to school. Regardless, the pot was stirred, and M7hopeful took the bait.
“Leave it to aviva to leave a comment about Kellogg on an article that has nothing to do with Kellogg,” M7hopeful wrote, making a fair point.
“Ah M7Hopeful, our resident, perpetually naive, Kellogg fanboy resurfaces,” avivalasvegas responded. “Booth has so much to do with Kellogg. It’s the b-school rivalry to end all rivalries.”
To which M7hopeful responds, “You’re either hopelessly disconnected from reality or purposely making things up. I’m still not sure which.”
“You don’t really know where I went to B school M7 – I could have been sitting next to you in the Jake for two years for all you know ;),” avivalasvegas responded, earning a spot in this article and quite possibly the creepiest comment we saw this year.
Once again, C. Taylor provides a witty, albeit sarcasm-drenched, comment. In early March, we covered a study that ranked business schools by the number of unicorns — privately held companies valued at at least $1 billion — their alumni had founded. A commenter named “smartie” posited that “valuations are meaningless” until the company sold or went public. C. Taylor engaged. An argument ensued over the relevance of the unicorn valuation for business schools.
“Well many are no longer unicorns,” smartie wrote, “that’s exactly my point and many others might not continue to be unicorns next year unless the company is sold or IPOed, the value is here-say and cloud money so ranking schools on cloud money is futile.”
Thankfully, C. Taylor set smartie (and the rest of us) straight on what exactly a unicorn is.
“Actually they are just the unicorns which got away. From Britannica:
‘Unicorns are good and pure creatures with magical powers. They are strong, often white in color, and difficult to catch.'”