ARCHIVED: What is a flame?

This content has been archived, and is no longer maintained by Indiana University. Information here may no longer be accurate, and links may no longer be available or reliable.

In Internet parlance, a flame is a posting to a newsgroup, mailing list, or similar forum that attacks another person or group of people, usually in response to an earlier posting.

People post flames for a variety of reasons. Sometimes discussions of emotional issues in newsgroups degenerate into angry name-calling. Sometimes new users posting to a newsgroup are flamed for not being familiar with the content of the discussion or not showing proper netiquette (Internet manners). And sometimes people flame one another because they are aggressive, rude, or short-tempered.

Because flames often involve personal insults, they can destroy the possibility of further constructive discussion. They can also waste network resources and frustrate people who are trying to carry on substantive discussions. Responses to flames may also take other unpleasant forms, such as email harassment or complaints to system administrators. Ask yourself the following questions before posting a flame:

  • Will you later regret posting this?
  • Are you sure you haven't misinterpreted what the previous poster wrote?
  • Was the person you are responding to trying to get attention or provoke angry responses from others? (This is usually called "trolling".)
  • Would you be insulted if someone responded to one of your own posts in this way?
  • Is this a personal matter in which other readers will have little or no interest?
  • Should you resolve the issue by personal email instead of posting?

Please try to deal with flames constructively, and in general avoid flaming others. You will help make the Internet a much more enjoyable forum for discussion.

This is document afha in the Knowledge Base.
Last modified on 2018-01-18 09:56:45.

Contact us

For help or to comment, email the UITS Support Center.