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Flame Wars

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Since there’s no way (yet) to physically hurt someone over the Internets, people are forced to take out their hostilities on one another via flame wars. During these violent confrontations, people resort to all sorts of underhanded tactics, including troll-like behaviors. The use of private messages, excessive swearing, remarks regarding an opponent’s appearance or sexual preference, image macros, etc. are all common practice.

Individuals who regularly participate in or attempt to spark flame wars purely for the sake of amusement are often called flamers.

Contents

History of Flame Wars

The first true flame warrior was the Roman statesman Cicero, who wrote various insulting letters to other Romans in the provinces. A classic example is this missive to Marc Antony:

Marce! Ede stercem meum et morere! (Marcus! Eat my shit and die!)

To this, Marc Antony replied:

Cicero! Noli dicere!!! Malus vir es et crassus! (Cicero! Don't say that! You are a bad man, and you're fat)

Marc Antony, clearly, had been pwnt.

Flame wars have not progressed much over the course of the past two millennia.

Flame wars today

A flame war is essentially an online argument initiated by one or more of the following:

For all of the above, replace "The poster" with "The reader" for an indication of what the poster assumes about you. Also consider that someone you think to be a flame warrior and/or a troll may not be and may harbor exactly the same assumptions about you.

Remember that discussion forums are argumentative in nature, an online equivalent of the Russian Parliament. If you find yourself in an online argument, you've probably lost already; quit the argument as early as you can with as much dignity as you can salvage before the rampaging packs of online dogs smell blood and mass ranks behind the perceived upper dog, thereby assuring their place in the internets pecking order.

Flame wars continue because their participants imagine that they can deliver the killer blow and get the last word in, an absurd premise when posting to a website with at least 100 members.

The Flamer's Bible

(as composed by Joe Talmadge; also see B1FF).

The Twelve Commandments of Flaming

  1. Make things up about your opponent: It's important to make your lies sound true. Preface your argument with the word "clearly." "Clearly, Fred Flooney is a liar, and a dirtball to boot."
  2. Be an armchair psychologist: You're a smart person. You've heard of Freud. You took a psychology course in college. Clearly, you're qualified to psychoanalyze your opponent. "Polly Purebread, by using the word 'zucchini' in her posting, shows she has a bad case of penis envy."
  3. Cross-post your flames: Everyone on the net is just waiting for the next literary masterpiece to leave your terminal. From rec.arts.wobegon to alt.gourmand, they're all holding their breaths until your next flame. Therefore, post everywhere.
  4. Conspiracies abound: If everyone's against you, the reason can't possibly be that you're a fuckhead. There's obviously a conspiracy against you, and you will be doing the entire net a favor by exposing it.
  5. Lawsuit threats: This is the reverse of Rule #4 (sort of like the Yin & Yang of flaming). Threatening a lawsuit is always considered to be in good form. "By saying that I've posted to the wrong group, Bertha has libeled me, slandered me, and sodomized me. See you in court, Bertha."
  6. Force them to document their claims: Even if Harry Hoinkus states outright that he likes tomato sauce on his pasta, you should demand documentation. If Newsweek hasn't written an article on Harry's pasta preferences, then Harry's obviously lying.
  7. Use foreign phrases: French is good, but Latin is the lingua franca of flaming. You should use the words "ad hominem" at least three times per article. Other favorite Latin phrases are "ad nauseam," "veni, vidi, vici," and "Fettuccine Alfredo."
  8. Tell 'em how smart you are: Why use intelligent arguments to convince them you're smart when all you have to do is tell them? State that you're a member of Mensa or Mega or Dorks of America. Tell them the scores you received on every exam since high school. "I got an 800 on my SATs, LSATs, GREs, MCATs, and I can also spell the word 'premeiotic'."
  9. Accuse your opponent of censorship. It is your right as an American citizen to post whatever the hell you want to the net (as guaranteed by the 37th Amendment, I think). Anyone who tries to limit your cross-posting or move a flame war to email is either a communist, a fascist, or both.
  10. Doubt their existence: You've never actually seen your opponent, have you? And since you're the center of the universe, you should have seen them by now, shouldn't you? Therefore, THEY DON'T EXIST! This is the beauty of flamers' logic.
  11. Lie, cheat, steal, leave the toilet seat up.
  12. When in doubt, insult: If you forget the other 11 rules, remember this one. At some point during your wonderful career as a flamer you will undoubtedly end up in a flame war with someone who is better than you. This person will expose your lies, tear apart your arguments, make you look generally like a bozo. At this point, there's only one thing to do: insult the dirtbag!!! "Oh yeah? Well, your mother does strange things with vegetables."

Types of Flame Wars

There are many types of Flame War:

Tools of the Trade

Salt the Earth

Salting the Earth is the most effective and ultimate way to completely and utterly pwn another flame warrior in a flame war. A good flame warrior will always Salt the Earth behind them.

This phrase originated from the Roman method of raking salt into the soil of Carthage, a destroyed city. The salt poisons the ground, ensuring that nothing can ever grow there again. In The Simpsons, Homer rakes salt into Ned Flanders' lawn.

In a similar manner, a flame warrior (Prima) can destroy the character of another person (Secunda) to such a degree that Secunda can never show their face in that community again. If Secunda ever does resurface, the memory of that fateful pwn4g3 floods back and taunts them a second time without any input from Prima. This eventually forces Secunda to delete her LiveJournal and possibly quit IRC until the end of time.

Two choice examples of assholes whose earth was salted are Nathanr and Essjay.

Flames To End All Flames

Okay, This is a Little Too Damn Literal

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Featured article November 28, 2005
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