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

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Definitions of Flaming

Damp Squib |  Detonator |  Dictionary Flame | Eurotrash | Firefighter |  Flamage |  Flame Bait |  Flame Master |  Flame War |  Name Flame |  Spelling Flame |  Troll |  Two-Cent-er

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 Damp Squib: the Flame Master needs a focus for the attacks, and the Damp Squib is that person. Often, the Damp Squib was the poor sap who started the whole thing - but the Flame Master may choose not to tangle with the Detonator, and so selects someone else. Not quite an innocent bystander, the Damp Squib may have self-selected by butting in as a two-center or firefighting.

The Detonator: intentionally or not, the detonator started it. Often by mistake, but sometimes as a calculated act of revenge for a previous encounter, the Detonator makes a comment that is 'inappropriate'. If you are in a group for any length of time, you can see flamebait coming - and you can often tell if its deliberate or not.

Dictionary flame: An attempt to sidetrack a debate by insisting on meanings for key terms that presuppose a desired conclusion or smuggle in an implicit premise. A common tactic of people who prefer semantic argument to reality. Compare spelling flame

Eurotrash: A troll dialect; exaggerated and hysterical responses to deliberately misunderstood comments.

Firefighter: The Firefighter is the one who tries to cool the debate with the introduction of sweet reason. Doomed to failure, because the flame war is essentially a private campaign in a public place - the Firefighters cannot hope to influence anyone, and half the time they probably saw one posting and did not realise there was a war on.

Flamage: Flaming verbiage; the collective noun of flaming. High-noise, low-signal postings to USENET or other electronic fora. Often in the phrase 'the usual flamage'.

Flame bait: A posting intended to trigger a flame war, or one that unintentionally invites flames in reply; sent by the Detonator  

The Flame Master: there's always a couple of people at the centre of the war; one of these may be a Flame Master. Usually self-selected as the owner of the 'moral high ground', the Flame Master has survived previous campaigns and even enjoys it. The Flame Master leads the attacks and carries the thread forward.  

Flame War: a barrage of postings in response to one poor sap who spoke out of turn. Traditionally, this takes place in a News Group - someone phrases something rather tactlessly, and instead of emailing the poor sap with a hint that the mistake should be acknowledged, everyone mails the whole group. Pretty stupid, really, as half the flames are simple insults, with no reference to the reason for it. Flame wars start because people press the reply button, instead of writing direct. Once started, the cause is often lost in the midst of insults, and loyalties change as insults get stronger and all inclusive.  

Name Flame: A reply posting to a newsgroup which is fairly mild, but accidentally on purpose mis-spells, mistakes or otherwise misuses the original sender's name. Most readers will not notice; certainly won't care - but the person misnamed may well lose their cool totally. Surprisingly effective.  

Spelling flame: A posting ostentatiously correcting a previous article's spelling as a way of casting scorn on the author, instead of actually responding to that point (see dictionary flame). Of course, people who are more than usually slovenly spellers are prone to think any correction is a spelling flame. Spelling flames often contain spelling errors. Go figure!  

Troll: unlike the detonator, the Troll makes a career, of sorts, out of starting Flame Wars. Usually starting with an obvious dig, such as 'Gays should be castrated' on the gay groups, and similar mind-stetching analysis of the world. Someone will bite, leaving the Troll to fan the flames, then sit back and bask in the firelight.
The Troll is a sad little thing - often a lonely teenager; it feeds off attention, any attention (let's face it, it cannot afford to be fussy). With thousands of newsgroups available, the Troll will soon move on if there is a poor response - ignore it, and it will go away. Guaranteed. If you have to respond, perhaps to warn others in the group, do it by talking about the troll, never to it. See Trollshifting  

Two-Cent-er: someone who really has little or nothing to add, but gets a vicarious thrill from participating; they tend to repeat what has already been said, or drop in a pithy bit of homespun wisdom. The internet equivalent of someone getting a crafty kick at the thug - after some else has knocked him out. Always ends with "Just my two cents worth". The Meek may well inherit the Earth - but not if they make a career out of it!


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Guide to flaming