Flaming is a hostile and insulting interaction between Internet users. Flaming usually occurs in the social context of a discussion board, Internet Relay Chat (IRC), by e-mail or on Video-sharing websites.
An Internet user typically generates a flame response to other posts or users posting on a site, and such a response is usually not constructive, does not clarify a discussion, and does not persuade others. Sometimes, flamers attempt to assert their authority, or establish a position of superiority over other users. Other times, a flamer is simply an individual who believes he or she carries the only valid opinion. This leads him or her to personally attack those who disagree. In some cases, flamers wish to upset and offend other members of the forum, in which case they can be called "trolls". Most often however, flamers are angry or insulting messages transmitted by people who have strong feelings about a subject.
Jay Forrester, in discussing participants' internal modeling of a discussion, says:
Mental models are fuzzy, incomplete, and imprecisely stated. Furthermore, within a single individual, mental models change with time, even during the flow of a single conversation. The human mind assembles a few relationships to fit the context of a discussion. As debate shifts, so do the mental models. Even when only a single topic is being discussed, each participant in a conversation employs a different mental model to interpret the subject. Fundamental assumptions differ but are never brought into the open. Goals are different but left unstated. It is little wonder that compromise takes so long. And even when consensus is reached, the underlying assumptions may be fallacies that lead to laws and programs that fail. The human mind is not adapted to understanding correctly the consequences implied by a mental model. A mental model may be correct in structure and assumptions but, even so, the human mind--either individually or as a group consensus--is apt to draw the wrong implications for the future.
Some equate flaming with simply letting off steam, though the receiving party may be less than pleased. Similarly, a normal, non-flame message may have elements of a flame—it may be hostile, for example—but it is not a flame if its author seriously intends to advance the discussion. The word "flaming" is also sometimes used for long, intensive and heated discussions, even though insults do not occur.
Although the trading of insults is as old as human speech, flaming on the Internet, like many other online 'actions,' started in the Usenet hierarchies (although it was known to occur in the WWIVnet and FidoNet computer networks as well). Recently, several online forums have actively encouraged flaming amongst fellow posters.
Eristic, from the ancient Greek word Eris meaning wrangle or strife, often refers to a type of dialogue or argument where the participants do not have any reasonable goal. The aim is to win the argument, not to potentially discover a true or probable answer to any specific question or topic. Eristic dialogue is arguing for the sake of conflict, fighting, and seeing who can yell the loudest.
Plato often contrasted this type of dialogue with the dialectical method and other more reasonable and logical methods (e.g., at Republic 454a). In the dialogue Euthydemus, Plato satirizes eristic.
Different from Plato, Schopenhauer considers that only logic pursues truth. For him, dialectic, sophistry and eristic have no objective truth in view, but only the appearance of it, and pay no regard to truth itself because it aims at victory. He names these three last methods as "eristic dialectic"
According to Schopenhauer, Eristic Dialectic is mainly concerned to tabulate and analyze dishonest stratagems, in order that in a real debate they may be at once recognized and defeated. It is for this very reason that Eristic Dialectic must admittedly take victory, and not objective truth, for its aim and purpose.
Argumentation theory is a field of study that asks critical questions about eristic arguments and the other types of dialogue.
The Art of Being Right
The Art of Being Right, is a short treatise of the German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer. In it, Schopenhauer examines a total of thirty-eight methods of showing up one's opponent in a debate. He introduces his essay with the idea that philosophers have concentrated in ample measure on the rules of logic, but especially since the time of Immanuel Kant not engaged with the darker art of the dialectic, of controversy. Whereas the purpose of logic is classically said to be a method of arriving at the truth, dialectic, says Schopenhauer,
In Internet slang, a troll is someone who posts controversial, inflammatory, irrelevant or off-topic messages in an online community, such as an online discussion forum, chat room or blog, with the primary intent of provoking other users into an emotional response or of otherwise disrupting normal on-topic discussion.