[ Article reposted from alt.fan.furry ]
[ Author was Scott Kellogg <email@example.com> ]
[ Posted on Sat, 18 Oct 1997 17:01:07 GMT ]
The Art of Flame.
I have had the, unfortunately not unique, opportunity to learn
something of the art of flame from the hands of some of the masters.
These expereinces have given me some insight into the strategy and
tactics of how to skillfully conduct a conflict by using flames.
Persons interested in taking up the art of flaming people may have
a carreer open to them as a politician or lawyer or any other
profession which requires a supple spine and no morals.
First off, take the lessons of Machiavelli's "The Prince" to heart.
His instruction on how to conduct yourself in conflict to achieve
your aims are very useful. However, Machiavelli does note that
lying, cheating and betrayal are still immoral. In order to be
successful it is critical that the flamer must be absolutely sure
that his actions are completely justified. Therefore, a good
grounding in Sun Tzu's "The Art of War" is also critical as his work
is unencumbered by any sence of right or wrong.
If you have any doubt of this, recall the nature of flames. Flames
are not to prove right or wrong, but only used to bolster weak
arguments by making personal attacks, and to drive your opponent
off by attrition.
Rule One of Flames:
Be Aggressive. Do not hesitate to use profanity, abuse and many
capital letters. Remember that 98% of people are sheep and are easily
led or impressed by a strong personality and conviction. It does not
matter if you are the literal embodiment of evil, people will agree
with you and admire you simply because you are strong and determined.
Remember: the most widely popular character of Star Wars is Darth
Vader. Also, remember that Adolf Hitler's cult of personality has
long outlasted Churchill's, FDR's and even Stalin's.
98% of the people will bow to your wishes if you are aggressive
enough. Some will stay silent, which allows you to win. Other's will
be so impressed by your strength of personality that they will flock
to agree with you. By doing so, they hope to gain your favor. It is
doubtful that you would ever want such toady bootlickers as your
actual friends, but they do make useful allies, so don't hesitate to
use them. They are your cannon fodder. Let them happily lick your
boots and give them a pat on the head and they will follow you,
shouting your name.
If you are at all inhibited about using strong language and fighting
words, shrug them off. Remember, this is not pistols at ten paces,
nor rapiers at five, not even daggers at three. This is Usenet posts
at 500 miles. Even an abject coward can shake his fist at that kind
Rule Two of Flames:
Beware of your opponents, but be grateful for them. Without your
opponents, life would get pretty dull and your cult of personality
will loose interest when you don't have someone to shout at anymore.
You may therefore find it necessary to range into other newsgroups
to scout out potential opponents.
When first you encounter opposition, insult them as loudly and
obnoxiously as you can. If you are lucky, your opponent will be
so angry as to make mistakes. If you can get him to angrily type
off a message before taking the time to think about it, study that
message carefully. This will probably allow you the best access to
holes in his arguments. Your followup must exploit that weakness to
the fullest, forcing him to re-align his defences in the weakest
part of his armor. With any luck, you can get him to have to defend
himself on absolutely rediculous grounds.
Ask leading questions. If you can lead your opponent to have to
take up a rediculous defence, so much the better.
Never answer questions. Avoid answering any leading question at all
costs, especially if it could potentially weaken your argument.
Simply edit the question out of your reply. If pressed and the
question is repeated, quote non-sensical rules that make answering
the question irrelevant. If no such rules exist, make them up. If
you can do it in Latin, so much the better, as it impresses the
bootlikers. If really pressed, attack the question. Try "That's
not the question. I think the *real* question is..." then go on to
make a statement of your own.
There is NO rule six.
Remember to make use of pseudo-intellectual remarks and quotations
from sources like Monty Python. The bootlickers will all laugh and
be reaffirmed what a great and hilarious person you are.
Make up rules as you go along. By making up net-ettiquite rules,
you are in control of what is polite and what isn't. This creates
the illusion that you are a gentleman in the minds of the
bootlickers. Remember that net-ettiquite is inconsistent and
varies from group to group, so by making up a rule, you don't have
to list it's origin. Remember though, these rules are fluid and do
not apply to you.
Remember: The golden rule is not "He who has the gold makes the
rules." It's "He who makes the rules takes the gold, and redefines
the word 'steal'."
Lie. Posts and e-mail are not made under oath. If you ever are put
in a position where you have to defend yourself, lie. You never said
*that*, you clearly meant something else. If your opponent confronts
you with a quotation from earlier posts, insist loudly that you were
quoted out of context, and smear your opponent by comparing him to
tabloid reporters and the Paparazzi.
Also, when lying, it is important to accuse your opponent of lying
to help cover your tracks. It doesn't matter if he has lied or not,
but by accusing him of lying when you yourself are doing so, you win
points by obscuring the facts. It then would require that quotations
be pulled out, which would either be so long as to cloud the issue,
or if trimmed could be said to be quoted out of context, see above.
If you are accused of lying, deny it. If repeatedly accused of
lying, say that you already covered that and proved that you were
Appearance is everything in this medium. Remember: Flame wars, and
political campaigns are not a question of being right -- They are a
question of *sounding* right.
Cross-post frequently. If you cross post to other groups, and are
abusive and aggressive enough, other groups of bootlickers will flock
to your cause. If someone complains about the cross posts, fervently
maintain that they are relevant to all groups. Also, don't forget to
use your ability to make up rules to defend your cross posting. Say
that by convention, the maximum number of groups cross posted to is
15, or more should you need them.
Claim victimhood. Make certain that you paint yourself as a helpless
moral victim in a cruel world, and that your opponent is part of the
group that has oppressed you, or is in aide to them. The bootlickers
will see this as depth in you, as you confess your weakness. They
will love you even more.
This allows you to not take responsibility for your actions. The
bootlickers certainly don't assume responsibility, and they don't
like to see their heroes do it either. It helps to remind them how
pathetic they are. There's no use in grinding your superiority in
their faces. Lie, cheat and bully and then blame it on someone
else. This way you can proclaim yourself a Robin Hood, fighting
the oppressors in a guilt free environment.
If your opponent tries to point out that victims aren't liscenced to
do anything they please, you can point out how unsympathetic he is to
your cause. The world has made "Politically Correct" into a very
sharp sword; don't be afraid to use it, but don't stick too closely
to it as it has drawbacks. Not adhering closely to being PC is a
great advantage as it makes you appear to be kind, but not
unrealistic. Use PC when it is to your advantage, throw it away
when it isn't. Produce artificial rules when it applies and when
it doesn't. Calling your opponent a racist is always to your
Lying about your racial background can be useful too. Recall it only
takes One grandparent to allow you to register as a Native American
in the USA. You can always claim to be a minority even if you aren't,
and reap the rewards. It doesn't matter if victimhood is irrelevant
to the case at hand. Always remember that OJ Simpson is free today
because he played the victim. And that was in a court of law where
people were under oath.
Take the moral high ground if possible. It is always easier to fight
from such a stance as you can claim to be a man of principle while
you smear your opponent as a scum of the earth oppressor. The
bootlickers love this.
Use dramatic, descriptive and imaginative hyperbole often. It
impresses the bootlickers who will be amazed by your inventive mind.
If it can put your opponent in a bad light, so much the better.
Note! This can easily be overdone. Comparisons to Hitler tend to be
overboard. You have to know your audience well enough before you can
use that one, but if you have the bootlickers really on your side, it
can make a devastating point.
Be emotional. Logic comes off as boring. Emotional, self-righteous
indignation goes down well with the bootlickers. Being emotional
allows you to contradict yourself at whim.
Know your enemy. Try to read several of his posts before attacking.
Gather information so you know where to strike. Strike his weak
points hard enough and you'll get an incoherantly angry reply which
can signal his doom as he overextends himself, loses his temper and
alienates his allies.
Know yourself. Watch out for emotional 'pushbuttons' in yourself.
Try to avoid subjects which upset you, as you will tend to give too
much of yourself away. This allows your opponent access to your
Rule Sixteen: (Optional)
Know the subject. It is often helpful if you actually know what you
are talking about. But, this is not always necessary. It will
usually suffice if you only sound like you know what you're talking
about. The bootlickers can't tell the difference. A useful technique
to sound like you know the subject is to make up fictitious article
titles in fictitious journals. "Well according to the article in
'The New Journal of Psychological Society of Austria' on March 5th,
1994 page 46, available in any descent University Library, you are
very very wrong." No one will bother to research the article.
Make up statistics. Statistics are very impressive sounding and make
devastating arguments. Produce imaginary studies out of thin air to
back up your conclusions. Or, better still, reinterpret actual
studies until they appear to say what you want them to.
Remember that a convincing lie is more persuasive than an actual
fact. Facts can be contradictory, and don't always lend themselves
to support you. Lies work better as you can tailor make them to
suit any situation.
Dangerous Last resorts, and claiming victory in defeat:
Every once in a while you may actually find yourself outmatched by
someone who can out argue you, or actually knows what they are
talking about. The following ideas are risky and only to be used
as a last resort.
E-mail your opponent with your reply. You can always claim that this
was a mistake, but don't apologize. Say something went wrong with
your connection that wouldn't allow you to post or respond by normal
E-mail has the advantage that you can continue the losing debate
while cutting it off from your throngs of bootlickers. It also allows
you to cut off your opponent from his allies. Divide and conquer.
Ignore his requests that you stop e-mailing him. Continue the debate
as normal. You may find it less satisfying without your throng of
bootlickers to cheer you on, though by telling them that it is
continuing in private will lend more credence to your image as a
Your aim at this point is to build up a few letters back and forth,
so that then you can demand that he stop sending you mail, and then
you can claim that he is stalking you. With letters in hand, you can
claim that he has been harassing you, and threaten to use lawyers.
The risky part here, is that he may do the same to you.
If he takes your e-mail and posts it back to the newsgroups, you can
then make up rules about net-ettiquite to attack him for doing so.
Your bootlickers will heartily agree that you were 'betrayed' by your
opponent, because to them, you obviously took the time to settle
things peacefully with that opponent. This gives you the illusion of
being a peacemaker which, of course, wins points with the bootlickers.
At that point you can claim victory by declaring that you no longer
wish to debate with such a dishonorable person. Smear his character
as best you can as loudly as possible and exit. This way you can
claim victory, even though you were losing badly. Remember that
Saddam Hussain claimed victory after the Gulf War and his
bootlickers still believe him.
With due consideration on the tactics necessary to win at this, I
think I'm rather proud of the fact that I've lost every flame war I
ever participated in.
"A strange game: the only winning move is: not to play."
-- War Games.
Reverend Modemac (firstname.lastname@example.org)
First Online Church of "Bob"
(FINGER email@example.com for a FREE SubGenius Pamphlet!)