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B.7: Dealing with flamewars and obnoxious posters.


This article is from the Digital Broadcast Satellites FAQ, by Brian Trosko btrosko@primenet.com with numerous contributions by others.

B.7: Dealing with flamewars and obnoxious posters.

From time to time a particularly annoying or obnoxious thread, discussion,
person, or flamewar shows up. Although there is no sure-fire way to make such
disturbances cease, so the group can get back to more reasonable topics,
the following suggestions may help:

- Avoid the mess in the first place. Look to Subjects B.3 and B.9 for advice.
Stick to DBS matters. Don't start off-topic threads just because "someone
might know," or "it's a convenient place."
- Ignore the annoyance. Some people post inflammatory or inaccurate
information just to get a response ("trolling"). If nobody reacts, they'll
get bored and go away.
- Killfile the person or the thread. Many newsreaders allow you to killfile
articles based on the author or the subject, so you never see potentially
annoying articles. See your newsreader's online help file for more
information. With a killfile you don't have to look at the mess, and if
enough people killfile something, nobody will be reading it and posting
follow-ups. Killfiles should be used with caution, since they can cause
you to miss worthwhile articles.
- Eliminate crossposts. If the Newsgroups: line looks like this:
Newsgroups: rec.video.satellite.dbs,alt.clueless.nimrods,misc.test,alt.flame
edit it to look like this:
Newsgroups: rec.video.satellite.dbs.
You can also add a follow-up-to: line in the headers if you wish to redirect
the discussion to a certain newsgroup:
Follow-up-to: rec.video.satellite.dbs.
- Move the discussion to another newsgroup. If there are no valid DBS topics
left in the discussion, move the discussion elsewhere. Edit Newsgroups: and
Follow-up-to: lines to suit the situation.
- Go to email. If the subject has become a bitching match between two people,
shift to email. If one party refuses to go to email, the other should
be mature enough to take the argument to a private forum. A follow-up
line can be adjusted to send replies to the post through email:
Follow-up-to: poster
- Change the Subject: line. To extract a valid topic from a flamewar,
change the Subject: line to something new:
Subject: UHF Remote? (Was DSS vs. E*)
When doing this, you should also delete the References: line and the
message IDs that follow it. This will ensure that all newsreaders treat
the article as a new thread.
- Respond with facts. Nothing annoys someone who is looking for flames
more than a reasoned, well thought-out, accurate rebuttal.
- Don't resort to insults. Calling everyone a "fucking idiot" won't end
a flamewar.
- Don't mailbomb. Mailbombing hurts everyone on both systems, puts your
account in jeopardy, doesn't end the argument, and invites equally nasty
retaliation. It's a silly, immature, childish tactic.
- Request that the discussion be taken elsewhere. Sometimes, a short,
courteous, polite note emailed to both parties can have desirable
- Complain to the postmaster. If the mess is particularly bad, you may
wish to complain to the offending party's postmaster. If the offending
person is person@site.domain, send email to postmaster@site.domain. The
note should be short, polite, and contain proof of the offense,
including valid message IDs. Don't send email to postmasters just
because you happen to be insulted; they're busy people, and their time
is valuable, so save this response for more serious offenses, like
mailbombing, binary bombing, newsgroup bombing, threats directed against
you, activities that _seriously_ disrupt the newsgroup, ongoing
long-term problems that can't be solved by any other means, and
activities that can or do deny service to you or others. Postmasters
are most likely to respond to denial-of-service issues.


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