Absolute Beginner's Frequently Asked Questions

6. What are Flames, Flamebait and Flame Wars?

A Flame is an angry message, usually posted by someone you have offended.

Flamebait is a message posted with the deliberate intention of attracting flames in response. This is usually a form of trolling.

A Flame War is a series of messages which contains nothing but flames.

Some methods of responding to a flame -

  • Totally ignoring it.
  • Killfiling the author.
  • Replying in kind - this will usually provoke further flames and you will find yourself in a Flame War. This will continue until one or other retires or one accuses the other of being a Nazi at which point Godwin's Law is invoked and the thread dies.
  • Replying with excessive courtesy - this will probably infuriate the flamer even more but if you have done it correctly they will back off as not to do so would make them look like a complete idiot. You win.

There are those who make a Usenet career out of flaming. You can amuse yourself seeing how many you can spot on the Flame Warriors website.


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