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Flame wars

I'm going to reword this from the original post, to be less confusing, and hopefully less curiosity inducing.

Its generally bad etiquette to participate in a flame war on a blog, when the author of the blog isn't even participating, as that flame war invades that author's personal space. I breached that etiquette, and in retrospect, I should have done differently. It would be nice if there were an easier way to take a conversation that's getting out-of-hand, and move it elsewhere, an online version of "let's take this outside," or, ironically, "let's take this offline," but conversations on blogs are "sticky": they hold you there. Trackback comes close to doing this, but it's more of a technological, rather that social solution. Perhaps, someday, it will become a social convention, and someone can say "let's trackback this to my blog," and everyone will understand. But I digress.

My apologies.

Comments (4)

Does this resemble spam?

Where is this thread? I looked for it but couldn't find it.


It defeats the purpose of this post if I point out the location of the thread, which is why I reworded the post in the first place. It's really not as interesting as it sounds.

I'm going to disagree. Nobody reads my blog but if they did, I wouldn't have a problem with heated flaming discussion. I do concure that it is a personal issue but I would have no problem if two people went at each other in my blog as long as the respected my athority to end it.

I view a blog especially and entry that isn't about "What I learned today" as published work. The commennts are a public forun to discus said work. If two people want to go back and forth on it I don't consider it inappropriate. (I'm not trying to start a flame ware here!)


The points you make are valid, but you also expressed them as personal preferences. You wouldn't mind if these types of flame war discussions occur, and you would end it if it displeased you. Some people might mind, though, and it does seem annoying to always have the responsibility of moderating the conversations on your blog, when in some cases people can follow etiquette and moderate themselves.

It's annoying for the author, because the choice to end the flame war frequently involves closing the comments entirely, which means no futher discussion on the original post. You can delete the comments and keep the thread open, but in many cases this feels wrong as you may not necessarily find the comments offensive, as much as they are just off-topic.

It's annoying for the participants as well, as they may wish to continue the discussion, but now have suddenly have nowhere to keep discussing. As an author you may say, "tough luck," but personally, I'd rather let discussions run their course.

I use the analogy of being at someone's talk. The blog entry is like the person's presentation. After a presentation, there is a discussion. In this discussion, you wouldn't expect two people in the audience to start going at it without the participation of the presenter. In this situation, you would probably expect the people arguing to say, "let's take this outside."

To use an actual flame war as an example, as I didn't post to the flame war in question, I was reading a thread on Cory Doctorow's Eastern Standard Tribe ( awhile back, and one person (tribeless) commented that he though that Cory releasing the book for free online was bad for book publishing in the long term. Naturally, this person suddenly found himself the focus of every subsequent post, and any possible discussion about Cory's book was diverted by people flaming the inadvertent troll. tribeless even recognized that this was quickly becoming off-topic (about him, rather than the book), but he had no alternative for moving the discussion elsewhere, and naturally, he felt compelled to respond to all the attacks levied against him.

Cory did allow the discussion to continue, but it would have been nice if this discussion thread could have been easily set aside to open up the thread to other inquiries, i.e. it would be nice if there were a social etiquette for blogs, in which conversations were more free to move to the appropriate locus, so that authors don't feel that they have to interfere, and commenters don't have to feel like they are being trolls/flamebait/off-topic.

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This page contains a single entry from kwc blog posted on March 23, 2004 5:51 PM.

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