Tuesday, April 05, 2005

blogger asbestos

how to extinguish the flames Posted by Hello


Flaming, or personal attacks in a digital medium, are common in both business and personal blogs.

There are many types of flamers and many ways to deal with them, i.e., many types of fire extinguishers .

This article is merely a brief peek at the vast subject, to help you in your noble combat. Even debate pacifists and overly diplomatic peacekeepers can pick up a few pointers.

Please excuse the non-scholarly approach, but this seemed the most comical and enlightening way to deal with the subject.

Mental combat makes us tough.

Constant praise makes us soft, weak, spoiled, pampered, impulsive, instant gratification-oriented, unappreciative, grandiose, vain, reckless, rash, self-impressed, manic, comfort-obsessed, and insensitive.

Keep in mind this important point: never allow them to upset you, doubt your good intentions, or make you react in haste.

And never let them win.

You must defeat every enemy, whilst acting like it’s a matter of total and complete indifference. (which, ultimately, it is.)

Flamers tend to be crybaby bullies, and generally, like terrorists, tend to strike only their favorite targets: those they assume to be unarmed and unprepared.

May this article transfer you into the ranks of the armed and dangerous to mess with.

Experiment: How to Attract a Flamer

Have you ever been flamed, personally attacked in an email discussion list, bulletin board, blog comment, or other online forum?

You know, where everyone's supposed to be searching for truth, not expressing immature aggressivity stemming from extreme [whatever] frustration?

If not, then I strongly suggest you get off your butt, quit lurking, and start posting comments at various internet locations, that accurately express your opinions.

State your position clearly and powerfully, with all the zeal and intelligence you've got.

Disagree when you really have a different viewpoint that you think needs to be considered. Point out an overlooked fact.

Try to bring some objectivity and rationality to a heated discussion, about, for example, usability principles vs. narcissitic random design. Or how politics is for people who are afraid of psychology.

Then watch what happens.

Chances are, if all goes well, you'll get flamed.

Go ahead. I'll wait right here. Dumdeedum. Floober-fladdleedee. Okay. Done? Did you get flamed by anybody? You did? Good.

Now you're ready for my Secrets of Online Flame Retardation.

These notes were inspired by my own experiences and the Flame Wars site:


How to Keep Yourself
From Getting Burned
by Online Flamers

Types of Flamers &
How to Respond to Them

(1.) Easily Offended, Fast Response Flamethrower

Is easily insulted by any comment not praising, adoring, or idolizing him.

Reacts like a spoiled and pampered child to any unflattering comment.

Usually retaliates so quickly, gets so upset at a word or phrase, that he fails to read your entire comment, or fails to take the time to understand what you mean.

May even keep whining about a comment that you have since modified or apologized for in later comments, but he is too busy feeling hurt to notice.

Your Response:

Express heart-felt concerns about his sadly disabling ADHD, his inability to pay attention and focus on what is being said.

Quote the portion of the comment that he ignored or didn't catch.

Tell that in his haste to attack you, he failed to grasp the exact wording and meaning of what you said.

Point out his super-sensitivity to the slightest, mildest constructive suggestions for improvement. Ask him if he's aware of how this extreme touchiness appears to others. Tell him to go sit in the Naughty Chair, with no laptop.

Ask what his parents did to him to make him so dysfunctional in normal society.

Say: "Calm down. No one here wants to harm you or ruin your fun. Now slowly re-read my comment of last Tuesday.

When you've read it and meditated on its complex but profound brilliance and paradoxical ease of application, we may be able to have a sober and meaningful discussion about this issue.

Until then, I must politely refrain from paying any attention to your extraordinary and disturbing outbursts of temper."

(2.) Exalted Nitpicky Scholastic Flamer

Thinks every forum is school in which he may instruct others about the fine points of grammar, word usage, syntax, semiotics, spelling, rudimentary logic, etc.

Tries to make others, with whom he disagrees, feel inferior due to a lapse in perfection, which is his sovereign domain.

Rather than debate the issue, he prefers the safer, easier tactic of exposing a defect in your language or reasoning process.

You said, "Women are more nurturing than men tend to be."

He says, "Female ducks and octopus mothers eat their young when they're defective. Some nuturing that is."

Your Response:

Use his own tactics against him, even if absurdly. Clarify, and if possible, throw in more details, to confuse and confound. Make these details up, if an encyclopedia is not handy.

Say: "I meant normal human mothers, who are not alcoholics, not all females in the animal kingdom."

Or say: "The female duck and mother octopus are actually nurturing even in this instance. You see, they're concerned for the survival and evolutionary progress of the whole species. They feel obligated to nurture, not just their own brood, but the entire extended clan of fellow and future ducks or octopi. They are thus more nurturing than most human mothers."

(3.) Obstinate, Rock-Hard Flamer

This one is 100% convinced that he is 100% correct in every detail, and is 100% convinced that you are 100% wrong.

He is never going to permit himself to modify or reverse his position, not for all the beer and money in the entire world.

In cases where he feels himself to be losing an argument, he will waste no time shifting his argument to other points, or adopting another style of flaming, or simply making one last snide remark and leaving the debate.

Your Response:

Sarcastic congratulations on his amazingly brilliant analysis that led him to that dumb-ass conclusion.

Minimize his victory, take the moral high ground, let it be known to the other forum lurkers and debaters that he is excessively rigid, inflexible, intolerant, and unwilling to at least listen to other points of view.

Clarify how sad it makes you to see someone who is so prejudiced, old fashioned, frenzied, unrealistic, so unwilling to compromise, so resistant to granting that an opponent might have brought up some good points.

Emphasize his belligerance and question why it's so important that he "always win" every debate, relate it to his apparent insecurity.

Claim that this strident arrogance is a reaction formation, compensation for a severe inferiority complex.

Say: "Oh, I know your type. You're the kind of person who says, 'Don't confuse me with the facts, my mind is made up!'...

...and quite frankly, I pity bigoted, uptight, holier than thou, superior acting clowns like you. I'm sorry we all don't see things the way you do. Too bad the world is full of people who secretly cherish opinions that differ from yours."

(4.) Bitter, Sour, Chip on Shoulder, World-Hating Troller

Hates you. Hates me. Hates everybody and everything.

Seeks to pick fights with anybody who will pay attention to him.

Doesn't really care about the truth or what's right.

Just wants to fight somebody. Those of this type who frequent bars instead of online forums and blogs are called "brawlers", "pain addicts", or "cranky pants".

Will say the most hateful, obnoxious, mean-spirited, vulgar thing they can think of, as they view all work and thoughts of others as threats to their inert sluggishness.

Your Response:

Lure him, in a sly and crafty manner, into violating the forum rules, or the blog author's sensibilities of proper, civilized conduct and decorum.

Goad him, in a subtle and psychoanalytically sophisticated manner, into dramatically escalating his attacks and increasing his vulgarity. Help him to become as unpleasant and repulsive as he truly wants to be.

Keep repeating your position, state it in a million different ways, never bending a bit, which will make him intensify his attack.

Don't act offended, exasperated, or wounded. Ignore the hostility he's expressing toward you as a person, and focus on pretending to try to convince him intellectually.

Pretend you don't notice his vile and filthy language and his racist, homophobic, or sexist slurs.

Don't respond to his disgusting insinuations, his rancid insults, or his hot temper.

Act like you're trying to convince a calm, rational, scholarly gentleman, who seems to be right on the verge of conversion to your point of view.

Keep it up, remain innocent and sweet, and the site administrators or moderators will eventually step in and deal with the jerk.

He'll probably be issued a stern warning in front of the others, if not banned forever from the site. In either case, you win and also gain sympathy.

(5.) Moderator/Administrator Hater Flamer

Seeks to disrupt the entire online community, blog devotees, or forum members.

Masochistically desires to be scolded and banned.

It's not clear, to sane persons, what the point is, unless the under-achiever seeks bragging rights, seeks to claim he's so controversial, he's been kicked off forty seven web sites, just this month alone.

Some bar dwellers and tavern haunters like to boast of getting thrown out of various pubs and saloons, so perhaps this is the same syndrome: mental dysmorphia.

A self-defeating delight at not fitting in anywhere.

Your Response:

Expose this person for what he is.

Warn him once or twice. Explain the forum rules, the blogger's sensitivities, or the site administration's policies. State them clearly and firmly, but nicely.

If bad behavior and vile attacks persist, ask him if there was something he didn't understand about the rules. Patiently clarify. Then quite interacting with him altogether.

Let others deal with him, while you look up the moderator, administrator, or blogger's contact info.

Alert moderator, administrator, or blogger of the person's actions, language, and intentions, as evidenced in his blatant disregard for rules and etiquette. Politely inquire as to why he's allowed to get away with it.

Speak of how it may not be technically fair to others to allow him to blatantly violate the rules and policies. Request that something be done.

(6.)Innocent Angel Flamer

Soft spoken. Mild mannered. Gentle. Phony, fake, and misleading.

Uses a cherubic exterior to hide seething envy or animosity boiling within.

If you try to caution others about some common, but dubious practice, this type will say, "I've been doing it for years, and so have my colleagues, and there have never been any problems. What are supposed to do, turn off our computers and go live on a desert island where no stalkers or predators can ever afflict us? I think you've got a wild imagination or a morbid mentality."

Tries to make you look evil, paranoid, or zealous about something you don't understand very well, but they do this in a very subdued and educated manner.

Your Response:

You must use facts, references, URLs, quotes from reputable sources on this person.

Imply that they're not aware of the latest research.

Take the moral high ground. Express your sincere concern for the well being of others. Question why they display less regard for their fellows than you would expect of a refined person, which they otherwise seem to be.

Mention actual experiences, your own or of people you know, who have been victims of whatever you're trying to warn them about.

Speak calmly but intensely about your personal experience, which cannot be denied by anyone.

Say: "Well, say what you will, but my brother posted photos of his little girl on his blog, and three weeks later, she was getting filthy emails from a pervert. I just want to prevent this from happening to anyone else, if I can possibly can. Do you yourself have children? No? Then you cannot really relate to what I'm saying. But the moms and dads out there, I'm speaking to them now, not you."




This post is a partial joke, only half-serious.

I don’t think any professional or business person would “ridicule” or even waste time dealing with a flamer. But this material shows what some of us would perhaps liked to have said in certain situations.

I really think that the best way to handle most flamers is to act insanely, excessively, obliviously kind.

My “Your Response” for #4 “Bitter, Sour, Chip on Shoulder, World-Hating Troller” comes closest to a real, professional, yet delightful strategy…

…that is, ignore the flaming, and pretend you’re having an erudite discussion with a scholar.

Poke a little fun at yourself, admit you're not omniscient (but working diligently on it), gently mock certain facets of your own opinions, throw the flamer into confusion, compliment him on something. If it’s his blog you’re at, tell him you like the design of it.

This is not “killing with kindness.” (I hate that phrase: killing is killing, whether it’s “kindness” doing it or animosity.) Rather, it's more like “confusing with niceness”, or “befuddling with benevolence”.

Nothing drives a flamer into bannable frenzy as your pretending to misunderstand his attacks as agreements.

Put words in his mouth, twist his statements, find some way of misinterpreting him (in a Derridean sense, the elision of meaning, the slurring of sense and the slanting of seeming), and point out clearly how he is supporting your position.

I’m not saying that CEOs and business leaders should start playing childish games with flamers.

I’m just providing some funny ways to comically halt the attacks with humorous counter-assaults. So lighten up and laugh...er, please. Thanks.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the smile. Reminded me of a long favorite... http://redwing.hutman.net/%7Emreed/

steven edward streight said...

Well, thank you for doing the smiling. You mean it wasn't funny enough to induce hysterical chuckling and upchucking of your lunch?


Guess I gotta work harder at the humor.

And I shall, too.