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This article is about the internet term, not about people who are conspicuously gay

Flaming is the practice of posting messages that are deliberately hostile and insulting to a discussion board (usually on the Internet). Such messages are called flames, and are often posted in response to flame bait.

A flame may have elements of a normal message, but is distinguished by its intent. A flame is never intended to be constructive, to further clarify a discussion, or to persuade other people. The motive for flaming is never dialectic, but rather social or psychological. Flamers are attempting to assert their authority, or establish a position of superiority. Occasionally, flamers merely wish to upset and offend other members of the forum, in which case they are trollss.

Similary, a normal, non-flame message may have elements of a flame - it may be hostile, for example - but it is not a flame if it is seriously intended to advance the discussion.

Flame wars

A flame war is a series of flaming messages in an electronic discussion group or message board system such as usenet, mailing lists or forums. There are a number of characteristics of electronic communication which have been cited as being conducive to flame wars. Electronic communications do not easily transmit facial expressions or voice intonations which may serve to moderate the tone of a message. Also, there is typically a lag time between the time a message is transmitted and the time a reply is read. These two characteristics can cause a "positive feedback loop" in which the emotional intensity of an electronic exchange increases to extremely high levels.

Alternatively, flame wars may be instigated deliberately by Internet trolls. Not all trolls are successful, though.

Some flame wars have entered into internet folklore, such as the Meow Wars between Harvard students and the "Meowers".

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