It was a peaceful and productive forum; lively, congenial and a bounteous source of useful information. Then one day, completely without warning, Godzilla arose from the depths and blew his scalding breath on everything in his path.
A phalanx of Warriors mobilized to attack the monster, only to be crushed like so many toy tanks under Godzilla's mighty feet. Godzilla soon reduced the forum to searing and consuming flames. Just as abruptly, he rumbled back beneath the waves, leaving all to tremble in fear of his return.
Net life would never be the same. Sadly, many netizens who survive a Godzilla attack will become Xenophobes.
Forums often contain one or more unacknowledged sub-societies, but everyone except the most clueless know that these groups exist and constantly feel their influence. Such alliances congeal because of similarities in ideas and attitudes, or for the desire for power and influence within the forum. Since human beings are hierarchical creatures each of these these little mafias always have a Godfather who is surrounded by a cadre of loyal henchmen. Unlike Rebel Leader, Issues, Furious Typer and other noisy Warriors, Godfather only occasionally deigns to enter into discussions, but when he does everyone listens to him respectfully and his pronouncements have an air of finality. Though Godfather himself never engages in battle, it is commonly understood that his utterances should not be challenged, and when an unsuspecting Newbie or ambitious wannabe mounts a challenge to his authority Godfather’s henchmen viciously silence or drive away the attacker.
In the beginning, before bandwidth, there was nothingness. Out of that endless void God and His heavenly host created... A planet, and it was good. But the scientific, military and computer angels Who dwelled in Arpanet were lonely, so They brought forth Browser, and the Web was born. It, too, was good and the children of the internet lived in peace and harmony and were fruitful and multiplied, but God warned His people not to eat of the forbidden fruit of commercialism. Alas, they disobeyed and soon barbarians drove the children of the internet out of Paradise. God, in His wrath, turned away from His people and condemned them to wander in the digital wilderness, but from time to time He will suddenly appear in mailing lists, chat rooms and discussion forums to remind us sinners that we could be saved if only we would hearken unto Him.
Furious Typer’s combat strategy is to drown her adversary in a tsunami of angry verbiage. She is absolutely immune to subtlty and ignores all but the barest essentials of any argument.
After briefly appraising the gist of her opponent’s counter attack she puts her head down and rapidly fires off long rambling messages replete with grammatical and factual errors. The typical Furious Typer lacks endurance, however, and if the other combatants can weather the initial assault she will quickly exhaust herself and retire from the field.
Fragile Femme is very needy and insecure and regards the discussion forum as her personal support group, and will lash out when her feelings are not "validated" by the others.
Fragile Femme will often refer to the forum participants as her "family" and becomes distraught at disharmony of any kind. She regards a minor disagreement with her as devastating personal assaults and will often dissolve into hysteria when confronted. Her hyperactive sense of injury renders her fighting tactics fairly ineffective, but Innocence Abused, Cyber Sisters or Weenie will often spring to her defense.
Ferrous Cranus is utterly impervious to reason, persuasion and new ideas, and when engaged in battle he will not yield an inch in his position regardless of its hopelessness. Though his thrusts are decisively repulsed, his arguments crushed in every detail and his defenses demolished beyond repair he will remount the same attack again and again with only the slightest variation in tactics.
Sometimes out of pure frustration Philosopher will try to explain to him the failed logistics of his situation, or Therapist will attempt to penetrate the psychological origins of his obduracy, but, ever unfathomable, Ferrous Cranus cannot be moved.
Though annoying and often disruptive, Fanboy is a relatively harmless Warrior because his interests and knowledge are strictly limited a single obsession.
He's fixated on a particular video game, a celebrity, a television show, a sports team, – almost anything, really. Fanboy’s compulsion makes him very easy to identify, but it also arms him with supernatural tenacity.
The most benign criticism of his beloved immediately provokes a cascade of virulent abuse. Once alerted to Fanboy's sensitivities Evil Clown, Troller and Jerk will goad him mercilessly.
CAUTION: ANYONE can become a Fanboy, but the warning signs of an emerging Fanboy are subtle and easily overlooked. For example, are you a little hasty to defend Linux?
Evil Clown is very quick with a joke, but his jests always have a barb. He has little patience for in-depth discussions and will often disrupt exchanges between serious forum participants by introducing irrelevant topics, fatuous quips, and offhand comments. His greatest thrill is to taunt and humiliate weaker or more plodding Warriors with his snappy ripostes. Not a particularly powerful Warrior, Evil Clown will attempt to avoid defeat by accusing his attacker of having no sense of humor.
A Social Media Survival Guide
"Flame-Warriors" date back to the dawn of the Internet as a medium for communal discourse - the newsgroups and mailing lists of the 1980's and earlier were often home to bitter disputes among legions of people with little better to do, often, than snipe at each other via hostile "flame" messages. From the splitting of virtual hairs and the picking of virtual fights to the ad hominem attack and even the threat of cyber-violence, internet denizens have gone at it hammer and tongs since long before Facebook.
It Started Like This..
A web historian gives us this first hand battlefront narrative..
Some years ago a minor spat ignited a searing flame war that threatened to consume a once-placid discussion forum. While the forum burned I amused myself by caricaturing the chief antagonists. Confounded at seeing themselves thus revealed, the combatants fled the field in disarray.
Over time the roster of online belligerents expanded and eventually congealed into the netizen's guide to Flame Warriors. My own bad internet behavior would certainly have provided sufficient material to populate an extensive rogue's gallery, but suggestions and comments from astute observers continue to enrich the Flame Warriors collection.