[ Article reposted from alt.fan.furry ]

[ Author was Scott Kellogg <kelloggs@netcom.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

of range.

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.

Rule Three:

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.

Rule Four:

Ask leading questions. If you can lead your opponent to have to

take up a rediculous defence, so much the better.

Rule Five:

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.

Rule Six:

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.

Rule Seven:

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'."

Rule Eight:

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.

Rule Nine:

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.

Rule Ten:

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.

Rule Eleven:

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.

Rule Twelve:

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.

Rule Thirteen:

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.

Rule Fourteen:

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.

Rule Fifteen:

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

weak points.

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.

Scott Kellogg

"A strange game: the only winning move is: not to play."

-- War Games.


Reverend Modemac (modemac@tiac.net)

First Online Church of "Bob"

URL: http://www.tiac.net/users/modemac/

(FINGER modemac@sunspot.tiac.net for a FREE SubGenius Pamphlet!)