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    Comments are annoyingly hard to search considering there have been some real gems. Does the public dump allow for searching for the highest voted comments? If not, I think it might be fun to compile a list by hand, maybe put them on a website somewhere with screenshots.


    See also this thread. You can get such a list from the public dumps. I would do it with the following command:

    sort -t \" -k 12 -n -r comments.xml | head -n 17

    The -t \" -k 12 means "look at the stuff between the 11-th and 12-th quotation mark" (actual quotation marks in comments are encoded as " so this always gets the right field). The -n -r means to sort all the comments numerically rather than lexicographically, and in reverse order, so that the biggest numbers come first. Piping it to head -n 17 means, "just show me the 17 most highly voted comments" ... if you leave this off, you'll end up with a list of all comments sorted by score in descending order.

    • CommentAuthorMariano
    • CommentTimeAug 26th 2010

    So much for XML :)

    Any luck, Qiaochu? I'd be interested to see your findings!

    @Mariano: Simple tools for simple jobs. When I want to answer more complicated questions, I bust out the XML parser.

    @cmcleman: if you want to whet your appetite, here are the top twenty (broken up because of this forum's character limit):

    • <row Id="4170" PostId="4022" Text="That is, anyone whose best friend isn't the contrapositive isn't a mathematician." CreationDate="2009-11-04T04:21:11.797" UserId="250" Score="57"/>
    • <row Id="53524" PostId="25403" Text="can't argue with that...." CreationDate="2010-05-20T19:45:07.14" UserId="5575" Score="53"/>
    • <row Id="70823" PostId="31650" Text="OMG, please learn about algebraic varieties first! (Over an alg. closed field, don't worry about other ground fields; they will be nicely incorporated later when you are ready to learn about schemes.) It's where so much of the intuition comes from. Even the arithmetic applications and ideas, which are some of the most spectacular successes of the theory, are inspired by analogues in a more classical algebro-geometric setting. You can learn many basic things with just A&M, and pick up the rest as the need arises. Definitely no need to digest Eisenbud before any geometry. " CreationDate="2010-07-13T03:08:06.407" UserId="3927" Score="46"/>
    • <row Id="35972" PostId="18629" Text="Personally, I strongly dislike the misuse of the relation symbols `$<$` and `$>$` instead of the appropriate `$\langle$` and `$\rangle$` angle brackets. I dislike it so strongly, in fact, that I edited this answer." CreationDate="2010-03-18T19:16:14.94" UserId="802" Score="46"/>
    • <row Id="54316" PostId="25403" Text="Neither can I..." CreationDate="2010-05-24T06:35:04.467" UserId="766" Score="45"/>
    • <row Id="8823" PostId="7122" Text="We can safely file that quote under "Hardy has been known to talk like a pompous ass"." CreationDate="2009-11-29T21:54:02.6" UserId="121" Score="44"/>
    • <row Id="58191" PostId="27299" Text="Don't spend too much time on MathOverflow." CreationDate="2010-06-07T02:35:39.92" UserId="1119" Score="44"/>
    • <row Id="49203" PostId="23605" Text="And as Ehud de Shalit mentioned to me, some once they understand that 0.9999... = 1 think that 0.8888888...= 0.9 " CreationDate="2010-05-05T18:44:36.083" UserId="1532" Score="43"/>
    • <row Id="6971" PostId="5892" Text="fpqc, I think it's of interest to plenty of practising mathematicians (including me). Convolution is important, and intuition about important things is important." CreationDate="2009-11-18T10:16:04.063" UserId="586" Score="41"/>
    • <row Id="48815" PostId="23484" Text="umm Z/4Z contains Z/2Z?" CreationDate="2010-05-04T21:30:51.943" UserId="1384" Score="41"/>
    • <row Id="7039" PostId="5954" Text="I find this strange. What's so bad about Andrew's question? A questiomn that has as an answer a full-fledged math article that at least 7 people so far indicate is useful can't be that bad. What is off-topic here? The fact that the question involves high-school math? Are questions involving high-school math off topic here? They can still be pretty hard to answer! I find there are plenty of questions on the forum that are not as suitable as this one. Puzzles me. " CreationDate="2009-11-18T18:20:16.79" UserId="381" Score="38"/>
    • <row Id="48998" PostId="23505" Text="Incredibly common? The number of people who can even understand the statement, let alone believe it, isn't all that large..." CreationDate="2010-05-05T06:57:40.003" UserId="5740" Score="38"/>
    • <row Id="48908" PostId="23521" Text="When I was 11 y.o. I was screamed at by a teacher and thrown out of class for pointing this out when he claimed the false belief stated (it wasn't class material, but the teacher wanted to show he was smart). I found the counterexample later at home. I didn't let the matter drop either... I knew I was right and he was wrong, and really had a major fallout with that math teacher and the school; and flunked math that year." CreationDate="2010-05-05T01:19:05.237" UserId="2051" Score="37"/>
    • <row Id="4205" PostId="1241" Text="Ribet once told me that he was sent a generic UG textbook by a publisher for free, with the suggestion that he use it in his UG course. He decided not to, and took the book to Black Oak Books (2nd hand book store in Berkeley) and sold it for a few $$. On the walk back to the department he bought some coffee with the money, and then realised to his amusement that he'd done precisely what Noah mentioned above." CreationDate="2009-11-04T11:24:25.507" UserId="1384" Score="35"/>
    • <row Id="72488" PostId="32225" Text="-1 because I'm ornery and think that MO has more than enough of this type of question." CreationDate="2010-07-17T02:23:39.7" UserId="78" Score="34"/>
    • <row Id="48872" PostId="23501" Text="Take three distinct lines in R^2 as U, V, W. All intersections have 0 dimensions. The LHS is 2, the RHS is 3. The problem is that $(U+V)\cap W \neq U\cap W + V\cap W$. " CreationDate="2010-05-04T23:38:13.2" UserId="3948" Score="34"/>
    • <row Id="17831" PostId="11467" Text="Not directly a comment on your question I guess, but I can't help but mention this: As an undergrad, the worst instructor I ever had got glowing reviews by students (because he was funny and he required literally 0 work), and perfectly competent instructors got slammed because their courses were just a little bit challenging. I find the fact that someone is making decisions based on these evaluations absolutely terrifying. " CreationDate="2010-01-11T22:43:00.76" UserId="1902" Score="34"/>
    • <row Id="1025" PostId="1110" Text="a 5-isogenie grants you 5 identical wishes." CreationDate="2009-10-19T00:48:23.367" UserId="143" Score="34"/>
    • <row Id="33874" PostId="17807" Text="No, actually "non-native English speakers" would like more English translations as well. It's hard enough to learn one foreign language - learning few more just to be able to read mathematical literature feels like waste. Since just about everything is either written or already translated into English, it would be really nice to have the rest. Of course, I am not complaining - there are so many great translations into Russian I rarely see books not available in either language. In fact, there used to be even a journal with Russian translations of the best contemporary math papers... " CreationDate="2010-03-11T03:59:44.547" UserId="4040" Score="33"/>
    • <row Id="27979" PostId="15376" Text="I don't agree that blogs are the new journals. I would need to write an entire response to explain this, but briefly: blogs are neither refereed nor reviewed. The blog format imposes length requirements and discourages repeated, substantial revision. Blog-writing receives no academic credit. And so forth." CreationDate="2010-02-15T22:41:30.66" UserId="1149" Score="33"/>
    Awesome. Thanks for that, Anton...made my morning.
    • CommentAuthorWillieWong
    • CommentTimeAug 31st 2010

    Whoa! I have a highly voted comment?