The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Flamers
by Una Persson
(composed while sitting in another God-awfully boring meeting about Synergizing)
1. Be proactive.
This simple sentence carries two meanings. First, it tells us “Don’t wait to be flamed. Seize the initiative and put the smack-down on their ass, before they can do it to you.” Remember – just like in D&D, she who has the initiative is starting out with a distinct advantage. You must put your enemy off-balance with an overwhelming rush of words that conveys clear proof of your master intellect and the sheer force of your towering, iron will. If you flame first, and compose a masterpiece of an OP, you can sometimes carry the day without having to fire another proverbial shot in the battle. You will reduce the flamee to sad, half-hearted responses like “fuck you!”, or even “I know you are, but what am I?” Often, if your OP is brilliant enough, hordes of admiring contemporaries/fans/sycophants will chime in with “LOL!”, “You rule!”, or even “Note to self – do not make (insert name) mad!”
Second, you don’t want some lame-ass to flame the person before you. Most likely, they will screw everything up with a lame/poorly-written/too-kind OP that gives a clear advantage to your enemies, who will pick the poor person apart and send them bawling from the Board. Eventually a Mod will come by and close the thread, and your opportunity will be lost. If you start a new thread about the same, failed flame, you will be called a stalker and shunned – or possibly flamed yourself.
2. Begin with the end in mind.
What is your ultimate goal in flaming this person? You need to decide this before you start, so you can lay out your 6-month plan of Machiavellian mischief in your head, and have a clear path to achieving your goals. Brainstorm a bit about what your goals are – are they any of the following?
Drive the person from the Board/get them banned? A very satisfying result, if you can swing it. Few people have the ability to goad someone into a complete Board meltdown, but it has happened. If you can do it, you are truly a Board Goddess/God.
Have the person be openly reviled and mocked? Discreditation is always easier than forcing a meltdown. This is the typical goal of a flame, but perhaps it should not be. Always evaluate the situation carefully as it evolves, and redefine your goals should it look like lesser measures are needed, or the person seems to be walking an unraveling tightrope over the abyss of a meltdown.
Chase them away? Not bad, but there is no guarantee they won’t be back – sniping at you in random threads, trash-talking you in chat, starting e-mail “whispering campaigns”, turning every ICQ or AIM message into Part 1-376 of their manifesto of the crimes you have committed against them…ugh. It’s often better to have a more permanent solution to the problem.
Get them to apologize and acknowledge your superiority? Really, the best possible result. You can then look magnanimous and gracious as you raise them up from kissing the hem of your dress, and tell them they may have been misguided once, but now you are happy in your heart that they accept your wisdom and benevolent leadership – and that they are profoundly sorry for forcing you to undertake such action as flaming their sorry ass. You can even be their friend now, if they are contrite enough. This will build good-will towards you from all directions.
3. Put first things first.
The next step, after you have your goal in mind, is to come up with a game plan. Compose yourself. Make an outline, so your flame is coherent and follows an orderly path. Build your case, step-by-step, so your flame reads like a fine novel whose climax and conclusion are not only universally accepted as being the fundamental truth of the universe, but are also an entertaining read as well! An orderly flame make you appear intelligent, smooth, accomplished, worldly, urbane, all-knowing – and even kind, if you can twist reality enough. A disorderly flame makes you look like a pouty, whiny child who is ready to bawl because Britney Spears didn’t write them back.
An outline might look like:
I. Enter The Dingus A. First appearance of his screaming slack-jawed stupidity in print. 1. His love of Pokemon. 2. His worship of the Teletubbies. B. His post in MPSIMS on 7/12/01 1. He called G.W. Bush “History’s greatest monster” 2. He called **AssClown** a Nazi! II. The Insanity Mounts …
and so forth
4. Think win/win.
This is important. There must be two winners as the result of a successful flame. These winners are:
- You, and
- The Board community in general, since you are, after all, chiefly flaming this person to make the Board a better place – right?
That you should win is painfully obvious. What is not often obvious is that the Board and the community as a whole should share in your victory.
Make sure that you always acknowledge the Mastery of the Moderators and Administrators. Tell them how your heart is filled with sorrow, that once again you have been called forth to defend both themselves and the Board from the assholishness of the flamee. Show how you really wish things hadn’t come to this, but honor demanded it. Defend the Board and its staff well, so it maintains a good reputation, and the Board wins along with you.
Remember that should the flamee be a Moderator or Administrator, you are most likely not allowing for the Board to win – and thus violating Habit Number 4. Therefore, that is why flames against Moderators and Administrators normally backfire completely on the flamer. So don’t do this, unless you are the person actually having the Board Meltdown. In which case, dear reader, I can’t help you anymore.
5. Seek first to understand, then to be understood.
Make sure that you understand just how much of a scumsucking bottom-feeding brainless low-life waste of skin your opponent is before you start. Make sure you have fully grasped the sheer overpowering stampeding idiocy of their statements. You must understand exactly how handicapped and utterly mind-scramblingly insane their point of view is, relative to yours, if you are to flame them properly. Peer into the depths of their dark, gibbering brain and learn the true measure of this person who you are flaming.
And then, make sure your message is clear and unambiguous. List their crimes against you, the Board, and humanity in general in a neat and orderly fashion. I recommend chronological order. Use quotes properly to organize and attribute both their words and your own. If you are on a Board that allows HTML and graphics, then include tables and pie charts or histograms that fully detail their lunacy. Sometimes, a link to a set of Powerpoint[sup]TM[/sup] slides online can easily illustrate their idiocy to even the most mentally handicapped.
Synergy essentially means that the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. Applied to flames, it can mean two things. First, it can mean that your OP must somehow have a certain je ne sais quoi that raises it from the level of a simple bitch about someone up to a profound statement of the overwhelming mediocrity of the person. Your flame should leave the reader with a feeling that they somehow have learned a whole new Fundamental Truth about the Universe, and have gained enlightenment without actively trying to do so. It should not make the reader feel lost, empty, needing - like they have somehow been offered the golden apples of the sun and had them snatched away at the last minute. Coming up with a flame that can roast its target royally while still putting an enlightened smile on the faces of most of its readers is a difficult skill to master. Some have it, some can gain it through determined practice, and some will never succeed.
Second, this means that one should always look out for ways that they can make their OP build and grow stronger – more iron-clad, if you will – when combined with the supporting opinions of those who agree with your righteous flame. Now that in mind, know that one should never have sock-puppets – whether they be your own, or in the form of sycophants who conveniently jump in right after your OP to say “me too!” That is the lowest of the low – if you can’t defend your OP on your own, then you don’t deserve to post it in the first place. But aside from that – look for ways that other posters use their arguments in your favor, and weave these together with your OP to create the “aftershock” flames that you sprinkle throughout the thread. Combine their power with yours effectively, and you will create an awesome tsunami of your own that will sweep the thread clean of all of your enemies and their supporters.
7. Sharpen the saw
Remember to always keep your flaming skills ready, current, and deadly. Practice occasionally by roasting newbies and trolls, since nobody really cares too much about that. Remember that it can look really bad if you spend too much time flaming people on one Board. The solution is to join many other Boards to spread your flames out. Choose Boards that deal with controversial subjects and feature lots of posters filled with righteous indignation. For example: join a fundie Board and flame Jesus – that always gives you a good workout.
Enhance your Word-Power[sup]TM[/sup]. Read a lot of literature to be able to create flowery, insulting phrases and insults that show off your intellect. Study and learn other languages, so your flames are not limited to English. Believe me, there’s nothing like the joy of learning how to say “snapperhead” in Serbo-Croatian.
Read and heed the words above, and remember to enroll in our 3-day seminar at the St. Louis Airport Marriott, October 19-21! This three day course will present a new paradigm in Board behavior by use of Powerpoint[sup]TM[/sup] slides, lectures, technical presentations, and a Round-Robin Teambuilding session on the final day. Come see the energetic Dr. Persson as she leads you through the do’s and don’ts of Board flaming.
Fees are $1299 ($1799 after September 15), and do not include lodging and meals. See you in St. Louis!