Flaming is basically a very harsh message from one person to another online or via email. Social media in particular is completely on fire and if you are an active participant, it would be odd if you have not yet been flamed.
One thing I’ve witnessed over the years is onliners have grown increasingly bold when hiding behind these screens. To the point that if you have yet to have the pleasant experience of being flame, you are on borrowed time.
Be wary of anonymous accounts that do not display or expose their true identity. There are a healthy amount of folks online who relish in hiding behind their screens and typing things they would never say to your face.
You can also get flamed if you participate in a forum, group or discussion boards. However, having a difference of opinion is not the only thing that instigates a flamer.
Why will you get flamed?
In today’s online environment, the level of flaming, varies by venue and by topic. In my experience most smaller intimate groups and forums are more personal and therefore folks know each other and are more reasonable and understanding.
That’s why it is always wise to lurk when you join any new group or website. You want to make sure it is a good fit for why you are there. Lurking also provides the opportunity to experience the personality (and personalities) of the group before you jump in.
Play by the Rules
If you break the posted rules of any website, forum or group (and it is clear you didn’t take the time to read them) the regulars may flame you. Some will be nicer than others.
Established forums are a pretty tight-knit group and don’t take kindly to “newbies” not following the posted guidelines. Hint: Always read the charter, guidelines or rules before posting.
You might get flamed when information that is available to you by doing a simple search with minimal effort is not read. When you post mistruths or clearly type comments not based in any facts, you’ll raise the ire of those that are informed.
Flaming can also be someone just being nasty because they are having a bad day or misunderstood something you typed. When that happens, quickly clarify what you meant will help to diffuse the situation.
Then there are those that are just plain jerks (a.k.a. a troll).
I remember an SEO forum I joined a while back. The guidelines were standard and customary and it appeared there was a lot of knowledgeable folks sharing information and being helpful. Just what I was looking for.
I did notice that one moderator was a bit of a bully but didn’t think that would impact me. I searched for the topic I wanted to know more about, found nothing. So I posted.
Yikes! Did I get a dressing down. He also threw in some assumptions and insinuations. I apologized and explained that the forum search I had done did not produce the results he referenced. And he came back at me again…
No amount of good information was worth that treatment. This particular forum, that had been online for well over a decade, eventually shut down. It had become stagnant. I saw comments elsewhere noting the arrogance of the moderator and the forum owner being partially to blame.
The lesson here is if you start a forum or group, your choice of moderators and the rules that they abide by are just as important. Or folks will go elsewhere.
How to Handle Nasty Flamers
If you did break rules, and receive a nasty email pointing that out, take the high road and apologize. If you didn’t take the time to review available resources or guidelines, simply offer your humble apology. In most cases the “flamer” will probably understand.
The last thing you want to do is flame back when you are in the wrong. You won’t like the response to that at all. Nor will that help you to become a respected and welcomed member of the group.
However, whenever you run into a troll, the best response is no response. There is nothing you can do to appease a nasty flamer. It is all about their ego and getting under their skin. Don’t feed that beast.
Now, if a flamer gets threatening, lodge a complaint through the appropriate channels. Take a screenshot of the threatening communication so you have that on file in case the flamer deletes it. Which is very common.
Online you’ll find all kinds of folks. Gravitate to those you enjoy that have the same reasons for participation that you do. And do your best to ignore the rest.