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“Y0U ARE TEH SSUCK111111!! PwN3d!!”
“Im gonna buy a gun and start a flamewar ”
“You have no basis for these ridiculous claims, sir! Have you ever even read a history book? What kind of asinine school system were you subjected to that could have possibly spawned these baseless, blatantly retarded claims?!?!”
Since there’s no way (yet) to physically hurt someone over the internet, angry web users have been forced to partake in bouts of unmitigated verbal aggression, commonly known as Flame Wars. During these violent encounters, people resort to a variety of attack methods, ranging from the well-worded, grammatically astounding commentary to all out nonsense (including 1337, haxxor, and spam). The use of private messages, excessive swearing, remarks about an opponent’s looks or sexual preference, image macros, etc., are all fair game and common practice in these epic battles.
Individuals who regularly participate in or attempt to spark flame wars purely for amusement's sake are often called flamers.
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 was this to Marc Antony:
Marce! Ede stercem meum et morere!1 ("Marcus! Eat my shit and die!")
To this, Marc Antony replied:
Cicero! NoLi DiC3rE!!! Malum vir es et cra5su5! ("Cicero! Don't say that! You are a bad man, and you're fat")
Marc Antony, clearly, had been pwnd.
Flame wars have not progressed much over time.
Flame Wars Today
Though no one is really sure exactly why flame wars begin, a few telltale signs of an impending war can be linked to the following sources:
- The poster is an idiot.
- The poster is a troll.
- The poster just hates you.
- The poster is a dumbass.
- The poster is doing it for LoLz.
- The poster is prepubescent and still addicted to Pokemon.
- The poster makes untrue assertions about historical figures (such as Ben Franklin or Benito Mussolini)
- The poster claims to be an "internet humor/drama" guru but is in fact a fuckwit of giant proportions.
- The poster thinks he/she is completely anonymous because they are hidden behind a computer screen.
If all of the above statements are accepted as true, removing "The poster" and inserting "The reader" forms the basis of a soon-to-be-hilarious online battle of wits. In such a case, a determining factor in the magnitude of the oncoming war is the intelligence gap between its participants. The greater the gap, the greater potential for humor.
Flame wars generally begin with an initial negative exchange, and rapidly snowballs into more lengthy arguments. Flame wars can be perpetuated for months on end, mainly because all involved in the battle firmly believe that they can assuredly deliver the killer blow, thereby getting the victorious final blow. This is of course not the case in any community populated by more than 100 members.
Flame wars are a highly efficient method of weeding out weak posters, acknowledging strong posters (or Knightly Flame Warriors), and establishing a pecking order amongst a site's contributing members.
The Flamers Bible
And the lord said: Lo, my children, though art a pack of asshats. Live thy lives by this, my law. For the word is the law, and the law is the word. Pwn'd
The Twelve Commandments of Flaming
- 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."
- 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 'carrot' in her posting, shows she has a bad case of zucchini envy."
- 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. This will also inspire maximum visibility and increased forum participation (ie. more n00bs for you to pwn! yay!)
- 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.
- 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, this woman has libeled me, slandered me, and sodomized me. See you in court, Bertha."
- 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.
- 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 nauseum," "vini, vidi, vici," and "fettuccini alfredo."
- Tell them 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, ACTs, PDQs, GREs, MCATs, and I can also spell the word 'premeiotic'."
- Accuse them 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.
- 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.
- Lie, cheat, steal - ...and leave the toilet seat up.
- When in doubt, blindly 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:
- The Almighty Pillage
- The Armada
- The Cat fight
- The Inane Flame
- The Kamikaze
- The Me versus the World
- The Philosopher Attack
- The Bible Fight
- The Tag Team
- The Thread Occupation
- The Vulture
- The WikiWar
- The Resurrection
- The Occupatio
Salting the Earth
The phrase comes 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. A good flame warrior will always Salt the Earth behind them.
A master flame warrior can destroy the character of lesser poster (using techniques such as ad hominem) to such a degree that the poster can never show their face in that community again. Some excellent destructions have meant such a poster could also never again show her face in any public community again. If that poster should ever resurface, the memory of that fateful pwn4g3 floods back and taunts them a second time without any input from the original master flamer. This eventually forces the defeated poster into deleting his LiveJournal and possibly quitting IRC forever.