As 2017 comes to a close, we’re taking a look back at the past year through the voices of our commenters.
While the comments section can have its share of trolls, it can also be a rewarding experience to see readers respond to stories with wit, elegance and thoughtfulness. All told, there were 1.43 million comments left on Philly.com in 2017. Readers can also up-vote good comments and down-vote bad ones. Last year, commenters placed a total of 1.53 million votes.
People with strong opinions can obviously clash, but the diversity of viewpoints and the humor that is often on display in our comments section is something we hope to see even more of in 2018 and beyond. Here are 10 of the most up-voted comments made on Philly.com this past year:
Jan. 2: During the Eagles' final game last season against the Cowboys, Inquirer beat writer Jeff McLane was ejected from Lincoln Financial Field after an argument with a member of the Eagles’ media relations department over how loudly reporters in the press box were discussing a penalty.
Commenter Montcogwm was disappointed other reporters didn’t follow him out:
“The rest of the press corps didn’t have the guts to walk out with him.”
Jan. 22: In January, a group of Philadelphia School District teachers encouraged educators to introduce optional curriculum and activities related to the Black Lives Matter movement, from “The Revolution Is Always Now” coloring pages for very young students to a science lesson about the biology of skin color for older ones.
Not all educators agreed. Neither did commenter Henna Orno, whose opinion was the most up-voted comment on Philly.com in 2017:
“When your school district ranks educationally at 511 out of 577 school districts in PA, I would think getting back to teaching the ABCs, then moving to “Reading, Riting and Rithmatic” would benefit the students much more and should be the teachers’ priority.”
Feb. 4: Columnist Bob Ford declared last year’s Super Bowl the end of the “NFL’s season of unending misery,” citing declining television viewership caused by a myriad of factors, including overexposure, officiating problems and fantasy football. “People don’t want to sit still and watch an entire game any longer,” Ford wrote.
Commenter Vote for Dickie received a large number of up-votes for admitting to fatigue following the NFL season:
“Anyone else feel over saturated with football? I feel like it jumped the shark with Thursday night football. There was something special about football on Sunday where I’d arrange my whole day around the Eagles game. Then maybe once a season you had the special Monday night, where everyone was watching. But now there’s Sunday Night, Monday night, Thursday night……. I just feel fatigued. All I do now is watch the Eagles, then turn it off for the rest of the day.”
Feb. 9: After the Nordstrom department store chain announced it was dropping Ivanka Trump’s accessory and clothing line, White House counselor Kellyanne Conway went on Fox News and possibly broke federal law by encouraging viewers to buy products being sold by the president’s daughter. “Go buy Ivanka’s stuff,” Conway said on Fox & Friends.
Commenter WeirWolf thought the timing of Conway’s statement was poor:
“Sooooooo glad that the White House has so much time to spend talking about Ivanka’s trash clothing line in the wake of their botched/failed Yemen raid that left a Navy Seal dead, $75 Million in equipment destroyed, several civilians slaughtered, zero intelligence gathered, and a terrorist on the loose. But hey everyone…go buy Ivanka’s clothing line and support the Chinese economy!!!”
Feb. 21: Two months into Philadelphia’s controversial sweetened-beverage tax, supermarkets and distributors warned of impending layoffs due to drops in beverage sales of up to 50 percent. The tax has now been in effect for a year, and as my colleague Laura McCrystal recently reported, the results depend largely on which study you consult, and maybe even who paid for it.
Like many, commenter habitualloser2 figured out a way around the city’s new tax:
“Only an idiot didn’t expect this. I’ve posted here several times on this. Live in the NE. Not far from the Bucks County line. Used to shop at the Shop Rite on Frankford Ave by Morrell. Now I buy all groceries at the Acme in Bensalem by Woodhaven Mall. A 5 min drive from the Shop Rite.”
May 5: During routine work replacing a water line on the 900 block of Spruce Street, workers discovered 200-year-old wooden water mains likely installed between October 1811 and October 1812.
Commenter El_Hambino immediately made a connection between the historic find and a quirk in the dialect of many Philadelphians.
“And thus, the term “Wooder” was born!”
Aug. 16: During the summer, critics called on the city to remove the iconic bronze statue of former Mayor Frank L. Rizzo, claiming it was a monument to his oppressive tactics against black citizens as police commissioner in the 1970s. Columnist Stu Bykofsky mockingly wrote that the city should take things further and rename the Ben Franklin Bridge and Parkway, because Franklin was a slaveholder and a womanizer.
Commenter Robert Fox surprised himself by actually agreeing with Bykofsky:
“Can it be? The voice of reason appearing in the Philadelphia Inquirer? Can’t be, can it?!!!!”
Commenter Mick Bodine also agreed with Bykofsky, receiving a large number of up-votes for a quote pulled from George Orwell’s dystopian nightmare 1984:
“Every record has been destroyed or falsified, every book rewritten, every picture has been repainted, every statue and street building has been renamed, every date has been altered. And the process is continuing day by day and minute by minute. History has stopped. Nothing exists except an endless present in which the Party is always right.”
Orwell – 1984
June 13: A Christine Flowers column about entertainer Bill Cosby being a stand in for all men who might have mistreated women in the past received such a strong response from readers that Sandra Shea, the managing editor of opinion, wrote a piece about working with Flowers.
Commenter Jen D took issue with Flowers’ contention that Cosby, who created a character that was a father figure for a generation, must at some deep level “possess those nurturing characteristics.”
“No, it is not ridiculous to argue that. He is an actor, paid to create illusions and fantasies, like all actors. Does this mean that every actor who has played a creep, jerk, murderer, rapist, abuser, etc. possesses *those* characteristics ‘at some deep level’? Equally ridiculous. Critical thinking is a beautiful thing. And so is the ability to tell the difference between fantasy and reality.”
Aug. 26: Going into the season, months before quarterback Carson Wentz would go down with a season-ending injury, columnist Mike Sielski was worried about the Eagles’ backup quarterback situation. He suggested that the team should consider whether it was worth signing Colin Kaepernick, the former 49ers quarterback who was the first player to take a knee and protest racial injustice during the national anthem.
Commenter Just Joe was pretty adamant about not wanting to see Kaepernick don an Eagles jersey:
“I have been watching the Eagles for 60 years. Been through the bad and very bad years. Also served our country in uniform. I would rather see the Eagles go 0 and 16 than see him in Eagle green. If he never wears another uniform for an NFL team I would be happy. It took decades for the men and women who served during Vietnam To finally get the respect they deserve. Our flag is from Philadelphia, our freedoms born here, and to have this person disrespect the flag, the national anthem, the men and women in both the military and police force is unacceptable. If I never hear his name mentioned again, that would also be fine.”