In the time I have been posting to net, I have encountered flame wars of epic proportions, and flame wars of a more modest nature. Flaming has evolved into a highly-stylized art form, complete with unwritten rules and guidelines.
Here, I have attempted to document the Art of Flaming, in such a way as it will be interesting to old hands (flame masters) and novices (virgins) alike. Without a further ado, then, I present:
The twelve commandments of flaming
Make things up about your opponent: It's important to make your lies sound true. Preface your argument with the word "clearly." "Clearly, Fred Flooney is a liar, and a dirtball to boot."
Be an armchair psychologist: You're a smart person. You've heard of Freud. You took a psychology course in college. Clearly, you're qualified to psychoanalyze your opponent. "Polly Purebread, by using the word 'zucchini' in her posting, shows she has a bad case of penis envy."
Cross-post your flames: Everyone on the net is just waiting for the next literary masterpiece to leave your terminal. From rec.arts.wobegon to alt.gourmand, they're all holding their breaths until your next flame. Therefore, post everywhere.
Conspiracies abound: If everyone's against you, the reason can't possibly be that you're a fuckhead. There's obviously a conspiracy against you, and you will be doing the entire net a favor by exposing it.
Lawsuit threats: This is the reverse of Rule #4 (sort of like the Yin & Yang of flaming). Threatening a lawsuit is always considered to be in good form. "By saying that I've posted to the wrong group, Bertha has libeled me, slandered me, and sodomized me. See you in court, Bertha."
Force them to document their claims: Even if Harry Hoinkus states outright that he likes tomato sauce on his pasta, you should demand documentation. If Newsweek hasn't written an article on Harry's pasta preferences, then Harry's obviously lying.
Use foreign phrases: French is good, but Latin is the lingua franca of flaming. You should use the words "ad hominem" at least three times per article. Other favorite Latin phrases are "ad nauseum," "vini, vidi, vici," and "fetuccini alfredo."
Tell 'em how smart you are: Why use intelligent arguments to convince them you're smart when all you have to do is tell them? State that you're a member of Mensa or Mega or Dorks of America. Tell them the scores you received on every exam since high school. "I got an 800 on my SATs, LSATs, GREs, MCATs, and I can also spell the word 'premeiotic' ."
Accuse your opponent of censorship. It is your right as an American citizen to post whatever the hell you want to the net (as guaranteed by the 37th Amendment, I think). Anyone who tries to limit your cross-posting or move a flame war to email is either a communist, a fascist, or both.
Doubt their existence: You've never actually seen your opponent, have you? And since you're the center of the universe, you should have seen them by now, shouldn't you? Therefore, THEY DON'T EXIST! This is the beauty of flamers' logic.
Lie, cheat, steal, leave the toilet seat up.
When in doubt, insult: If you forget the other 11 rules, remember this one. At some point during your wonderful career as a flamer you will undoubtedly end up in a flame war with someone who is better than you. This person will expose your lies, tear apart your arguments, make you look generally like a bozo. At this point, there's only one thing to do: insult the dirtbag!!! "Oh yeah? Well, your mother does strange things with vegetables."
The Golden Rule of Flaming
My flames will be witty, insulting, interesting, funny, caustic, or sarcastic, but never, ever, will they be boring.
Here endeth the scriptures.