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flame ~ n. insulting criticism or remark meant to incite anger
A Guide to Flaming

Flayme.com | Home | Confession | Definitions | FormFlame | Twelve Commandments | Causes | Profiling


Profiling Flamers

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I get the occasional accusation that this site, while claiming to be about resisting and surviving flaming, is actually intended as a training course for would-be flamers.

I can understand that from critics who haven't actually bothered to read what's on the pages (most of them), but lest there be any misunderstanding, let us explore the profit and loss account of the flamer.

Now, flamers really do come in all shapes and sizes, ages, genders and life choices. I can believe the Mom who claimed her three year old's first email was a flame, and I've come across many who are really old enough to know better. But rather than simply list a bunch of risks and gains, I thought it might be more interesting to select a few 'classic cases' - and leave it to you to see which you can relate to.

Warning - these examples are based, loosely, on real people, but enough detail has been changed to ensure they can read here and not realise (OK lots0?). These are sweeping generalizations, intended to make a point and encourage a bit of lateral thinking. I repeat, flamers come in all shapes and sizes; always try to work out who you are dealing with.

1. The Ambitious Geek

Flaming was born in the early days of Usenet, a direct descendant of some cro-magnon dweeb in days of yore. To this day, some academics want to 'reclaim' flaming as an art form. Well, that's academics for you! University still nurtures lonely, highly intelligent people, but fails to give them social skills. Like any other group, they have fears and insecurities, but their territory is often the Internet. More real than a city bus station, they know its strengths, it's weaknesses, its Dark Side and it's opportunities to wield power.

What they often don't appreciate is its size; they cannot tell the difference between being a big fish in a small pond - or being a bit of plankton in Google's supplementary results. They get delusions of grandeur. Their endless repetitive posts, with their anime avatars and cliche signatures are just a virtual form of graffitti - telling the world they exist.

There are fewer of them than a few years ago; simply because the Internet is more a part of the real world, and dinosaurs are on their way out. This group now includes females as well as males (not that seems to reduce the level of misogyny).

AGs live in a very small world, and they see themselves at the very center of that world; their tender spot is their whole being - any comment is open to misinterpretation, and will unleash a storm as they attempt to show who's the boss.

The best response is usually "Well, Pardon Me For Living", and just move away, leaving them to consider the things that matter in life, like wouldn't it be great to have a time machine and see who shot Kennedy, or even the vital issues, like 'Will Star Trek be back?"

These are 'personal space' flamers. Enter their world, and learn their rules instantly, or be abused. Move away a little bit, and you are invisible to them. By the nature of the web, there's always a supply of new people to stumble across their unmarked territory.

2. The Hungry Homeworker

The Internet has distorted the rules of the universe. Nowhere else has such an ocean of get rich schemes, nowhere has such a supply of people who would give never their money to a stranger with silly idea - but a solid belief that everyone else will.

They ignore the logic that says okay, one or two made millions, but one or two million made nothing - they just helped the one or two! They endlessly tell you that Amazon started in a garage. Sure, a garage plus $50,000 from dad. They tell you Google was built by two college students - yup, at a top university, where any student can walk into a bank for money to develop and idea. I'm not knocking these people - I'm their greatest fan. But I know I can't do what they did. The Hungry Homeworker has no such limitations.

He - and often She - wants two things; information and suckers. Already being a sucker makes it hard for them to identify others, so there's a first line of frustration. They want information on how to get rich quick, and simply cannot understand why others are not getting in line to get them that first million.

They go on ebay newsgroups and ask people to reveal where they get their wholesale stuff cheap (duh!); they pop up all over plugging their new website - affiliate number 447294 - "How can I get more visitors to my website, I got two last week".

Their dual tragedy is their undying faith that if they spend a few more bucks making someone else rich, they will succeed - plus a total lack of a sense of humour. So when questioned on the merits of their latest scam - sorry, scheme - they are mortally offended, and will excoriate the world. the only Big Word they know is 'unAmerican', which is thrown generously at anyone who doubts their ability to succeed. Any attempt to explain why selling fake viagra to schoolboys is both unethical and doomed to fail, is sure to upset them.

Sadly, the best way to deal with them is to respond exactly as they ask: "You won't find cheaper than Wal-Mart" or I sell stuff on ebay that I buy on ebay". "You want more visitors? - you need to advertise". "You want to sell viagra to schoolboys? Best ask the local police for a license"


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Guide to flaming